My First Born and I are dancing around the house, swirling through the kitchen and living room while we belt out the opening song from Beauty and the Beast. She is like a fluttering little bird as she sings and prances around, completely immersed in her role as Belle bringing life to a poor provincial town.
This is one of her favorite Disney movies and she has several parts memorized verbatim so that she can act them out at a moment’s notice. It takes everything in me not to reveal a smile over her rendition of Belle’s search for her father in a magical mirror. It is academy award worthy.
I am in awe of how quickly she has grown into this little dynamo from the helpless, tiny infant I first held just a few years earlier. Long nights trying to soothe a colicky baby by singing Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight” are distant memories, replaced by her endless “why” questions. As a four-year-old she informs me she wants to be a ballerina doctor when she grows up. I pray she’s not in a hurry to grow up. It’s hard for me to picture her as anything but innocent, dependent, Mommy’s little girl.
Then I blink.
She is in the driver’s seat of our car, where I apply the imaginary brakes each time we round a corner or approach traffic. Like so many teenage girls, she does not display the confidence she exuded in her childhood days, but she is willing herself to fly to the next branch. I don’t know how encouraging I am during these drives. I only know in time it will take her away from me… but we didn’t bring her into this world to teach her to stay in park.
I watch her drive away.
Time slips past like sea mist, brushing against our cheeks and disappearing into the warmth of summer. It propels us forward to a few weeks into her freshman year at college where, over dinner for her 18th birthday, we are introduced to The Boy.
Maybe neither of them knows it at this moment, but their lives will intertwine in the sweetest of ways. They will fall in real love and flourish. They will also have some tough times of their own, especially after graduation when they try to maintain a relationship with too many miles between them.
And then a decision is made. A suitcase is tightly packed. A bus is boarded, and she is on her way to a new life in a new city, following her heart’s desire - The Boy.
We all know life is not a fairy tale. The voice of experience will tell them that communication will elude them, and that love and understanding may be the furthest thing from their minds at times. And I hope they don’t believe couples that say they have never gone to bed angry, because everybody goes to bed angry a time or two. It is what happens the next day that matters. It’s the other coffee mug you pour, or the last slice of banana bread you leave. Sometimes it is tears, sometimes a silly joke that helps to break the ice that formed the night before. Whatever it is, it will bring you to that place where you can communicate again.
It isn’t easy, I tell her as I hold her in my arms, as I watch her dance, as I wave when she drives away. It isn’t easy, my heart tremulously whispers as I witness love enveloping them both.
But it is worth it.
Today my First Born dances in a beautiful wedding dress, swirling around the dance floor in the arms of her husband. It isn’t a fairy tale.
It is simply their love story.