Friday, May 23, 2014

Love is an Open Door

I walked into my OB's office to sit down for what will now be a weekly ritual of waiting once a week for an ultrasound and a quick visit to hear "Everything is good." until the baby is born in a few weeks.

This week's appointment was earlier than my appointments normally are and what I walked into seemed somewhat shocking....I checked in, sat down and started doing a little people watching and realized that the faces I was looking at were MUCH younger...in my opinion too young.  The waiting room as a hodge podge of young mothers around my age and teenage girls either accompanied by their mother, their baby daddy, or both.

Of course, since people watching is one of my favorite things to do, I sat...I observed and I pondered what I was witnessing.

The girls all appeared to be clean cut, wholesome cheerleader types. They were dressed well, their hair perfectly coiffed. Mothers fussed next to them with paperwork while the girls rolled their eyes and rubbed their growing bellys...but the boys were the most shocking sight...

Greasy, oily ballcap covered hair, jeans and t-shirts with holes... in many cases making fun of largely pregnant women waddle back and forth from the check in desk....

Hardly Prince Charming.

As I watched one girl chastise her "baby daddy" for not showering after whatever athletic practice he'd come from, and listened to her worry out loud about how her mother would react when she got there later when she got off work before the appointment, I wondered to myself:

"Oh, sweetheart! WHY?!? Why would you let THAT touch you in the most intimate ways that you can be touched?" What made these greasy, disgusting, OBVIOUSLY immature goofballs so appealing?

I then began to ruminate on a conversation I had with my husband a few weeks ago.

We were watching Frozen for the umpteenth time with our girls (we've probably watched it at least once a day since it came out on video, but quite frankly, my husband and I find a new layer to discuss every time we watch it.)

My favorite song came on. "Love is an Open Door".

Jeff remarked, "You know, its rather ironic that that saddest song in this whole movie has the peppiest beat."

I was taken a back..."This song is NOT sad! How could you even think that?" I asked.

He sat back and smirked a bit (that smirk that tells me he is happy to have a deep conversation about something...a smirk I love and find awfully attractive.)

"The words aren't inherently sad." He said. "This song is exactly right. Love SHOULD be an open door." He paused for a minute and then looked at me, "This is the saddest song in the whole movie because its true and the way it should be, but one of them is lying through their teeth as they sing it."

Clever, clever Disney.

I spent years in college, listening to single friends complain about how Disney has given them a false sense of what romance should be...there have been studies and papers written trying to demonstrate the harmful effects of "Prince Charming Syndrome."

Don't get me wrong. I believe it exists in some ways...but that is a thought for another day.

What does Disney do? They write a heroine character who deals with what EVERY girl is faced with at one point in her life...

A frog that turns out to be a frog... a guy that tells you everything he knows you WANT to hear in order to get everything he WANTS before disposing of you.

Anna spends the whole movie insisting that what she has is "true love", ignoring the concerns of family (Elsa) and friends (Christoff) when the reality is that she hasn't really had a chance to assess the character of her "Prince Charming" to be sure he's everything he should be to make her happy and that she is everything that he needs and not just a notch on his belt... She decides to jump in and give it her all because she is driven by her desire to have companionship and be loved...She wants SOMETHING,ANYTHING to be different from the life she is living. She sees love as her ticket out.

What makes the fake "Prince Charming"with his pretty words so appealing? The idea of getting something different...the idea of finally being SEEN...

I see Facebook memes all the time about what we should be "teaching" our daughters.While that advice is all well and good...HOW?

Disney shows that answer too... Anna is deprived of TIME. She is left to her own devices because she seems happy and content, even though deep down she is miserable.

Yes, you can tell your daughter to wait for a man that truly respects her, you can tell her that she is worth more, but what are you doing to PROVE IT?

Are you giving her your time or are you depending on "things" to make up for the lack of time you have with her?  Do you tell her she is beautiful and valued every day or do you belittle her and bring up EVERY TINY MISTAKE she makes?  Do you SHOW her that you value her by asking what in her life is important to her and supporting her- not just FINANCIALLY...do you SHOW UP?  Even if its the art fair, science fair, making it to the school play to watch her (even if she is just in the chorus or only painted sets), going to the football game to watch her cheer?  It doesn't take much to reorganize your priorities... it may seem like a lot, and it may be a pain in the butt...but did you become a parent to just open your wallet every time they want something or to nurture a new generation with guidance- to help them navigate life and avoid the mistakes that you made?

Do you know her friends? Have you bothered to meet the parents of her friends? Do you show you care by setting boundaries? (Yes, giving a curfew and being awake to wait for her to get home is a way that you can show her how valuable she is to you... who knows, she  may even tell you about her date, the party, or the school function she just got back from if you'd give her a chance...)

Elsa spent her days in a room,locked away from her sister. She thought that avoiding time with her to work on herself was the  best course of action, but it ultimately almost led to her sister's destruction.

We need to TEACH our daughters that they are important, valuable, special, and loved regardless of the tiny mistakes they make, but we need to SHOW them every day...if we SHOW them, they will be able to FEEL it. Once they feel it from us, from their siblings, they will be able to model that in the other relationships in their lives. They will be able to recognize an unhealthy, toxic relationship, they will be able to have better self esteem because they won't be relying on JUST the attitudes of their peers to make them feel valued and important.

Once they can do this- a fake "Prince Charming"...the "Frogs" that lie through their teeth in order to get what they want will be obvious to her. She won't waste her time (and if she does, she won't waste it for long) because she won't equate love with popularity or sex (like society tells her she should)...

I won't lie. I wanted to be popular in school. It was hard to watch my older sister, who seemed perfect, have it "all". She got asked to every date dance, she had boyfriends... I, on the other hand, didn't get asked on my first date until commencement my senior year, and even then, it was just a friend who asked because he didn't want me to be home alone...

Yes, I relented in my "not popular status"...but you know what kept me out of trouble? (believe me, I could have found it if I wanted to...) I had a mom who was there for EVERYTHING. She was always available to listen to me...even if she was in the middle of something important, she would drop everything to listen to my teenage woes. She would REALLY listen, she would give valuable advice or help me assess situations so that I could change something.

When I was little, before his death, my real dad took his weekends to take us out on "father daughter dates" and "father son dates".... Sometimes we did things he wanted to do (like go to the driving range or golf course, but he always found a way to help us feel involved, special, and like he cared about our success and failure as much as he did his as he played his 18 holes or used his wood to drive a bucket of balls.) and other times, he would let us pick. He may have been busy, but once he was home from work, he was HOME. I can't tell you how many hours we spent snuggled up against him on the couch as he watched his favorite television show or how many hours he spent playing "cooking show" with us in the kitchen as he made our family meals... I never had to doubt that I was important to him. If he missed parent teacher conferences because of a work trip, he ALWAYS went to see the teacher on his own (even if mom had gone). He did everything he could to make up absences to us by giving us his time later to make up for it.

My step father would take time off of work to come to school plays, to come support us at cheerleading tournaments, speech and drama tournaments, choir concerts...He was always ready with a big hug if we'd had a bad day (he still is). He was a firm shoulder to cry on.

We didn't have everything we wanted...I have stories of times when my step dad was unemployed for MONTHS and we were down to the last pack of ramen in the food storage before he got another job... but through it all, we had everything we needed... I may not have worn name brand clothes, or fancy makeup from the counter at the mall...but EVERY MORNING my mom and dad would complement me. They would specifically tell me something that made me beautiful or radiant that day... because of this, I didn't feel so alone in my "unpopular" status... I knew that at the end of the school day I was going to go home to a sweet loving mother and father...that I had their support NO MATTER WHAT.  I made my fair share of mistakes, but they always made sure that the punishment fit the crime... they were fair and they helped me to see, amid the punishment, that I was BETTER than that through gentle loving ways. I knew where my boundaries were, I knew that I would disappoint them if I crossed that line, but I knew that they would never be too harsh or unforgiving.

In the end, Anna almost loses it all because she realizes almost too late that Hans isn't her Prince Charming...her mistake has been made and it seems as if there is no way to make it better. The damage is done and undoable...she finds hope in the love of a friend, but the ultimate saving grace comes through the love of family- through HER love for her family...she had known what true love was all along, she just wasn't able to see it... she had been blinded by years of solitude.

As I looked around my doctor's office, I quietly contemplated how sad it was that this room almost full of teenage girls wasn't the problem...it was a symptom.

May my daughters be able to learn from the story of Anna...May I as a PARENT be able to learn from the story of Anna...May they remember that a "Prince Charming" isn't the beat all end all of happily ever after...and may I remember that its my job to not only TEACH but SHOW through my actions what true love is so they can feel it every day of their lives...so they can reach their potential...and someday they will hopefully meet a real "Prince Charming" and be able to recognize it as they let their actions speak louder than their words.

Love is an OPEN door...Is yours locked or do you only leave it open a crack?  Leave it wide open. You never know what the person on the other side is truly missing out on until you start giving of yourself.


Hugs and loves until next time, darlings...and thanks, Disney, for the reminder.



1 comment:

Sharee Wolfley said...

This is an amazing post. I say 'amen' on so many levels, & I appreciate your honesty in regards to your upbringing - very touching.

My husband & I have talked about that song, and how interestingly portrayed it is - for our girls to see that true love isn't always as it first appears.