Once upon a time….

I was listening to NPR in my car again.  The topic?  A move away from Cinderella re-makes to Snow White.  This year we are welcoming two versions of the age old fairy tale.  It got me thinking about that whole princess, once upon a time, handsome prince thing.

With spring all around us and weather temperatures hitting 80+ degrees here in NY, green is emerging.  Notwithstanding the pollen stuck to everything including my children’s faces, things are blooming.  Spring came early this year…a winter too mild.

I am a late bloomer.  I don’t remember when I was told this, but I do recall waiting and wishing for things to develop in my body, in my thoughts, in my heart always feeling a few steps behind the rest of the crowd.  Everything happened later for me.

A friend posted a photo of me on Facebook and if he hadn’t told me he posted it, I would never have recognized the person in that photograph.  Who was she?  I was shocked not because it was a scandalous photo or cause for derision or embarrassment but because I was pretty.  In this photo, I was exactly how I wanted to look but didn’t see.  I looked at this photo wistfully and with some annoyance that I wasted all those years working toward an image that was right on me all the time.  Looking at that photograph, I remember exactly how I was feeling.  I was waiting for my prince charming to realize I had chosen him.  I was waiting for pursuits yet to come, to be pursued, to be free of the burdens of family and to know exactly what I was meant to do on this earth.

I have rarely written about my own family, but looking at that photo brought back a lot of memories.  There was no luxury of time back then to understand why or question how things could have been different.  I was running constantly pingponging from one sister to another, one parent to another.  I am a terrible juggler, but I manage to keep people floating in the air very well.  I was invisible to me too busy being serious and determined to create stability in my life.  In looking at that picture, I am sad to remember that with all that chaos, the option to live a full fun life in my twenties was not a reality.  No irony that I am holding a baby in the photo…my arms were always full of other people.  Burning my candle at both ends was normal, just like all my friends, but holding other candles at the same time burned me raw.

I hope when my boys are in their twenties, they will feel free to have fun, take risks, chase love and do something stupid (well, not too stupid that it spills into the rest of their years).

So, this is what middle age does to a woman?  Feeling a bit like the Queen in Snow White, it makes me yearn for that face again.  Actually, the do-over would have a condition, a week to embody my 40+ year old brain into that 25 year old body!  How fun would that be?!  For a week, to have nothing in my arms.

7 thoughts on “Once upon a time….

  1. If only … wouldn’t that be something – to go back in time but with the wisdom of now … being able to tell our younger selves how much they already ‘were’ instead of the waiting to become. I wish you could have that week of nothing in your arms too. x

  2. Photos really helped me piece together memories I had blocked – I am like you, when I see myself at 24, I had no idea I was pretty – I was so hurt and self-destructive (my adoptee low self-esteem was huge) I had no idea until reading this – it happened to others, too. Thanks for this great blog post!

    • thanks Lara! i love that you sent in a reply to my post. it always makes me feel so happy to see that there is someone else who thinks like me and got something out of it. this process can also feel a bit out there, a bit alone..so thanks.

  3. “I hope when my boys are in their twenties, they will feel free to have fun, take risks, chase love and do something stupid (well, not too stupid that it spills into the rest of their years).”

    My kids are both in their twenties, and I wish the same things for them. It’s really neat to see them take off.

    Lovely, lovely post. Happy early spring!

  4. hi. joy! your writing is such a jewel! even though I hadn’t read that much english literatures, I can feel your sence of writing and your lovely heart.
    you are truly great woman and mom !!!

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