This weekend, we took teatime to the trees in fairytale style…all because a very great man once said that, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” and for years, I’ve believed him. With the weather clearly plotting against me, I wasn’t sure I could this time though, no matter how desperately my heart longed to. Summer sunshine and Cadbury’s chocolate, (my magical ingredient) although both dear to my heart, (especially being raised near the Cadbury factory) do not mix…even though two tiny pairs of curious hands in our family often beg to differ….
I love fairytales. I’m a blue sky day-dreamer, a silver-lined cloud-watcher, a meadow skipping, heart fluttering butterfly chaser. Call me what you will; at heart I’m an escapist. Borne out of a love of hearing bedtime tales by Hans Christian Anderson and Charles Perrault, and then discovering the world of Disney on the big screen at weekends, I fell in love with a beautiful, whimsical world I couldn’t touch.
Or so I thought.
Five years ago, I dressed in white and crystal from crown to Converse. Seated regally upon the Royal blue velvet of Cinderella’s carriage, I was drawn along by tiny white ponies to an aisle set under the bluest sky, where a red brick path lined with pink and peach rose petals meandered its way through a scented rose garden to a pretty white gazebo. My real-life Prince, a hard working software engineer from Hampshire, was waiting to say, “I do”.
After Major Domo delivered my ring set on a gold-trimmed, crimson velvet cushion, as husband and wife we spent the day celebrating with Mickey and Donald, finally ending the day twelve hours after taking our vows, whilst watching fireworks burst into life over EPCOT’s lake, eating ice cream sundaes with rainbow sprinkles together, blissfully in love and holding tightly to the moment our dreams came true.
Our happily ever after took a little detour when our first pregnancy became a miscarriage late in the first trimester, but months later I fell pregnant for the second time, and, at 20 weeks we decided to discover whether we were going to welcome a little boy or girl into our world.
Since law school, friends joked I was destined to become a Momma to sweet little (rugby playing) daughters and I never imagined any different. I was a pretty in pink, ribbons and bows girl (aside from the rugby) and secretly I believed that having little girls to raise was my own heart’s desire too.
After our wedding, I gazed longingly at the smallest of pink ruffle-pants, white booties and floral sleepsuits, dreaming of my own ringlet-haired princess, slumbering beautifully in the white lace bedding of a Mary Poppins-like Silver Cross pram as I adored her delicate features. I imagined us together later in her life, playing picnics and hosting tea parties in the garden. As my belly grew, so did my daydreams.
Months later, I birthed my baby. Our skin touched, and my world was rocked. At 06.39 on that Monday in February, the love I felt as I gazed into the vulnerable, desperately hopeful eyes of my first born son as he asked me to love him, protect him, overwhelmed me. My tiny, helpless bundle peeped at me and tore into my soul.
He wasn’t my princess…and he stole my heart. I had a Prince.
With the arrival of our Valentine, a second mischievous and beautiful baby boy, I’m completely and happily entrenched in my jeans and Converse. My life is more mudpie than marshmallow, and I know I was born to be their Momma. We adore each other, and I couldn’t imagine a love greater than we share.
I’ve discovered swashbuckling pirates and crafty crocodiles, brave little boys and hungry, sneaky storybook wolves. Animal loving little Indian braves and heroic princes on horseback, racing valiantly to the rescue across the pages. Every storybook princess has a prince….but more importantly a message.
Albert Einstein famously said that “if you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales”. I want my boys to love fairytales as I did, to be lost to their imagination whilst there’s time. Yet I want them to be more than escapists. I want them to know. Life is brief and childhood fleeting, and unlike Peter Pan, and against my will, they have no choice but to grow up all too fast. And that’s why fairytales are perfect.
On the pages of a well loved fairytale there is a lesson to be learned. A life message or moral that no amount of parenting can ingrain in a little one with such permanence as a well loved storybook.
Our Little Adventurer loves hearing the story of our fairytale wedding, and asks me why I was a princess and Dadda was my prince. I tell him that we worked hard, just like Cinderella. I want him to know that dreams don’t come easy, and equally that no journey worth travelling is.
As they grow, I want my children to be secure and fulfilled with or without their prince or princess by their side, and to look for goodness and happiness in life rather than constantly worrying over some distant success, material desire or even a wolf lurking behind a tree; because there will be wolves.
I want them to know that for every villain that wants to crush a dream, there’s a hero waiting to save the day, and that for every simple happy ending there’s one that doesn’t quite go to plan. I want them to know that the impossible can be real sometimes, because with determination and perseverance, the ordinary really can become extraordinary.
But in the meantime, this weekend whilst they’re fighting dragons and evil sorcerers, it’s time for me to make little dreams come true. Especially if they’re dreams of afternoon tea with chocolate butterflies.
Choose your story, chase your dreams. Search for the happily ever after secretly locked deep in your heart. The pages of your storybook might not resemble the cover you idealised, and life might not allow you to follow the path without wolves….but keep trying. Because true fairytales, the ones worth reading about, really can come true.