Thursday, March 20, 2008

Turning Straw Into Gold

Marriage comes with certain expectations. Whether you went for the fairytale wedding or, like me, just decided to cut out the middleman and elope with Prince Charming, we all had somewhat of a preconceived notion of what marriage would be like.

Some of us wake up one day and wonder what happened to the all the roses and champagne. Others marvel at the fact that Prince Charming leaves gross, sweaty socks on the floor of the bathroom every night. Even if your handsome prince picks up his dirty clothes by himself, like me, you might wonder what Cinderella looked like after four kids and no time to work out.

Married life has its challenges. Sometimes I feel like the peasant girl who was locked in a room full of straw and told to make gold by morning. I imagine her face in the dark of the night, pondering the piles of straw and wondering how on earth she was going to get through this. I’ve worn the same expression, standing in my laundry room at night, pondering piles of clothes I had forgotten to wash earlier and wondering how on earth I’m going to get through this.

For me, though, I know there will be no Rumplestiltskin to pop in and do the task for me in exchange for a ring. The task is mine alone, but somehow I always get through it easier than I expected. By the next morning, the laundry will be washed and hung and I can wake up feeling proud of the accomplishment that hours before seemed impossible.

In a way, we are like fairy tale heroines with bite. Like Cinderella, we have slaved away preparing our houses for birthday parties as well as balls. Like Repunzel, we have sat isolated in our bowers when no understood how hard it is to be mom. Like Sleeping Beauty, we have felt tired enough to sleep for a century.

The difference is, in our stories we are independent. We are rescuing knight and damsel in distress all rolled into one. We must clean our house sans fairy Godmother, climb out of our bowers on our own and resist exhaustion until at least after the kids are in bed.

As modern day spouses we gather up whatever life gives us, ponder the possibilities, and set to work. Late hours, laundry, dishes and homework pile around us and become our raw materials. These mundane details whirl around us turning days into weeks, weeks into years.

The hectic preparations that make us crazy turn soccer games and school plays into gems that stand out from other moments. Each success and trial, through our efforts, becomes a jewel to place in the family treasury. We struggle along, feeling like there is never enough time, but it is time that turns the moments we rush through into gold.

We gather the moments to ourselves as we live and forge priceless memories and family tradition from them; the result becomes treasure for our children. With no fairy godmother we make magic. We do the impossible with every day. We spin straw into gold.

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