Happily ever after
My once up on a time husband brings over boxes of ornaments for the tree. They are flower fairy ornaments mixed in with Disney Princesses. He got them on ebay. They begin with “Once upon a time” and end with “Happily ever after.” I once tried to tell a granddaughter the deeper meanings of fairy tales; how Sleeping Beauty is really us waking our own self up to our true potential and that only we can do that and not a prince. I could see she was carefully considering this.
She loves the new ornaments. They are magical and beautiful with wings that shine in the lights. When my once upon a time husband said he did not want to be married anymore, he use to try to offer me reasons. Number one. I had too many children and now I had too many grandchildren. It was never going to stop. Number two. I was a midwife. Number three. I started a public school and with it, came far too many problems.
This Christmas, freshly back from Vietnam and Cambodia, he tells me that his new wife does not celebrate Christmas which is good because he could not stand my endless cookie parties, caroling parties, block parties and progressive dinners.
He tells me that I have destroyed my health by “trying to save the world.” He does not say this unkindly but only as a matter of fact.
Once a reputable mental health agency offered to do family counseling for our large, unusual family. After meeting us, they said they did not think they could help with all the teenagers, but they would be willing to explore with us, why we would have ever considered adding so many children from Vietnam and Cambodia to our family. We never went back. I kept working, against all odds, on the happily ever after. If I could not end war, I could make cookies. If I could not work as a midwife to the world’s poorest people, I could have a free clinic in Portland. If global enemies could not talk to one another, I could host block parties. I had to start somewhere.
It is time, I can see to take down the tree, wrap the fairies in tissue paper and save them for another year. The flower fairies will welcome spring and we will sing Disney Princess songs as loud as we can in the car.
In the stories of old, the main character often wanders the world trying to overcome obstacles and looking for the magic that is ultimately within themselves. The Buddhist teacher, Tach Nich Hahn suggests that we live our life in the present moment and that within each moment is our Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever After. It is only when we look too far back or too far forward that we suffer so much and are afraid and overcome by greed.
In fairy tales, there is always the crone. The old women who grants wishes and wanders; the ones who look after the young. She does not come in the box of fairies and princesses but I know she is there calling to me to follow that ancient path that has no beginning or end. Each step leading to the next and each one perfect.
The traditional midwife in Cambodia tells me that she was sleeping and she was woken by a dream that told her to go to a neighbors house and help her with her birth. In the dream she was told just what to do to save the baby. And so along with the fairies and princesses I hang stars, for all the midwives all over the world who were woken from their dreams and followed the still, small, voice within.