Disney movies are not helpful. Fun, but not helpful. Fortunately all mothers (and occasionally fathers as well) do not need to die for their children to build character and have marvelous adventures.
And not all stories turn out all right in the end. Happy Ever Afters do happen in real life but never simply… since, after all, they are happening in real life.
Our family is going through divorce. I say our family because it affects the children as much as it affects us. It is everything one fears divorce would be, and ours doesn’t even have a dramatic storyline.
Even though my children recognize the reality of this, they – completely understandably – just don’t want it to be their family’s storyline. Everyone else seems to have fantastically uncomplicated happy lives where everything works out and the mommy and daddy stay together. Well, as seen through the eyes of eleven and eight, they all certainly seem to be happy.
Like their parents, the children are in a grief curve. They have descended into anger and denial and now, after several months, are nudging toward adjustment. But then a new day breaks, reality smacks them in the face and they swing back toward denial.
As their mother, I try to guide them gently toward the truth of our new life. There is no feet stamping nor fierce tears into clenched fists that will change it. The reality we all are finding hard to face is, nonetheless, reality. It is an exercise in childlike futility (and of course they are kids) to wish it would stop or go away.
Here is what I hold onto in the midst. Real life is often more difficult to face than fantasy, but experience shows me it is infinitely more rewarding once grasped. Therefore I trust that Reality with a capital R will serve my kids far better than fairy tales.
Because our own stories don’t just end ‘Happily Ever After’, do they? Everyone’s story changes over time. And how you adapt to the changes will largely influence how happy your story may become until you too go off into that glorious sunset.
Only a cruel mother could encourage her kids to look away from Life. So I hug them to look at WHAT IS every day, and to have the courage to not look for what they wish it might be instead.