HAPPILY EVER AFTER

By Lisa Huddleston

When I was a young girl, my best friend, Marilyn, and I used to sit with crayons and notebook paper and map out a future we called, “Castle in the Clouds.” In that castle, I had a husband who loved me, children (at least 3), dogs, and a sweet homey house. I didn’t plan for riches or great adventures or notable discoveries. I wanted a simple, quiet life. And I got it all, and I lived happily ever after.

Swoosh! Just like that. I met my husband-to-be in high school, started dating him in college, and we married a year into his medical school training. A month after his first paycheck in residency, I was happily expecting baby number one, and numbers 2, 3, and 4 followed like a string of daisies–with number 2 sadly ending unexpectedly in a miscarriage. Despite that heartbreaking disappointment, most things went according to plan. Of course, we had all the typical struggles, but we lived a very happy and very good life. And it flew by faster than I ever could have dreamt.

The only problem I have with all of this is that my plans were very short-sighted. I never considered what the “happily ever after” would contain. In some ways, that makes this time of my life unhindered. I am free to create whatever I choose (short of being young and starting all over.) In many ways, that is wonderful, and I know it seems so to those who are just beginning their journeys and are longing for a day off. But in other ways, it is frightening. What does one do when all her dreams have come true?

She may have to find new dreams, build new castles in new clouds. Oddly enough that seems to have brought me back to parts of myself that were present in the little girl with the crayons, but they never made it on to the paper. Things that I could and still can do all on my own. Like writing things and making things and loving things like dogs and cats and goats! Quiet things that will not make headlines nor win awards, but will still bring joy to my heart and populate my cloud-filled dreams.

Many days I am filled with fear at even the idea of trying to make these dreams come true. What if I can’t protect my goats from coyotes or dogs–even my own dogs? What if I never will be able to learn how to warp properly that creaky floor loom I bought second-hand from a woman who taught herself how to use it (no pressure)? What if my writings never speak truth to another soul and remain forever unnoticed? What if my old dreams were for young dreamers only? I really do struggle to the point of going days even weeks without making even a tiny step forward.

Then there are days and weeks when something nudges me like an elbow in the ribs–it may be Hope but it just may as easily be Despair. I watch three “How to Warp” youTube videos that remind me that people have been weaving their own fabric for centuries. Chuck and I settle on the fence we want for the goats who will be coming as soon as they are weaned–and, yes, people have kept goats for centuries. And I sit down to write a blog post that will be read by at least a few others who will be women my age who are trying to live in the “happily ever after” days of their lives, too.

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3 thoughts on “HAPPILY EVER AFTER

  1. Penni says:

    As always, transparent, thought provoking, and insightful. I know we all have unique stories and journeys, but you write with such familiarity.

  2. Hi, Lisa. Good article. I am reading a book by Joyce Rupp (Dear Heart, Come Home) that’s about midlife spirituality. In it she quotes Jung, who said we have to approach the 2nd half of our lives in a completely different manner than the 1st half. The tools and goals we had then no longer work for us. Rupp describes midlife as one of the richest seasons for spiritual growth (and other types of growth too). Growth can be painful, as you and I have both discovered. We have to redefine what “happily ever after” means. I am thinking about my life beyond work and what I might do. I hope I am given the privilege to retire and do some things I’ve always wanted to do. It’s hard after your kids are grown. Your relationships shift, and while they can be rich, it just seems you’re not needed as much. This is a goal of parenting. My kids try to protect me by not sharing all their worries like they used to. They are fiercely independent, and in a way I’m proud of that, but I also miss getting to listen to them and guiding them to find their answers. It’s all a really challenging stage of life.

    I’m glad you are writing more regularly. That’s a good sign.

    I think of you often.
    Anne

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