Once upon a time ... in the mountains of Virginia, a blonde-haired boy and a blue-eyed girl fell in love. Eventually, this love turned into marriage, and well, you can guess what happened next.
It is appropriate to begin this post with the traditional fairy tale formula, because you see, it is a story that demonstrates how even the doubtiest of doubters can be won over by everyone's favorite fairy tale character, the princess.
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When we received news that it was a baby "girl" in my belly just over three years ago, I promptly informed my husband Mark that I intended for us to raise just that, a girl.
Our goal was that this little girl would one day grow up to be nothing other than a woman. Clearly, girls and women take on a variety of roles these days, so by this, I simply mean a woman, who is kind, loving, generous, caring, and so on. Most importantly, a woman who is humble.
What this information was meant to impart was that my goal was to raise a girl, not a diva, a rock star, a brat (as in the Bratz brand), or ... a princess.
I took all the usual precautions. Samara got a yellow, teal, and white nursery, not pink or purple. She wore button-up onesies most of her first year, not the beautiful, intricately smocked hand-me-downs my mother passed on to me. Most importantly, I adamantly refused to refer to her as a princess, whether she was one week old or 2 and half years.
Thus, you can understand my amazement when 6 months ago, Samara said matter-of-factly, "Mama, I'm a princess."
Slightly grimacing, but keeping my composure, I replied, "Oh, are you?" and thought to myself, "Where in the world did you hear that?"
Turns out Disney movies were the culprit. As it was the 8th month of my second pregnancy and Samara had decided to stop taking an afternoon nap, I had to find something that would keep her in the same place for at least an hour while I rested. To Disney I turned. (Don't worry, I would wake up enough to fast forward through the dark scenes. Ursula the Sea Witch and Scar really are not nice characters!)
Consequently, her mind was full of Cinderella's dancing, Belle's singing, and Sleeping Beauty's and Snow White's skipping and spinning among birds and butterflies ... and deer and rabbits and squirrels and chipmunks and mice and on and on. She was thoroughly sucked in. I remained skeptical, but decided not to correct her. What better way to ingrain an idea in a child's head then to disagree with her and tell her no?
In the beginning, "princess" was actually its own category of people in Samara's world. She was learning to distinguish between boy and girl. Uncle B is a boy, but Aunt Ashley is a girl. Grandma is a girl, but Pop is a boy. Oddly though, when it came to our family, mommy is a girl, daddy is a boy, and Samara is a princess.
However, I watched as the concept evolved over the next few months. She eventually got to a point where any girl in any magazine who was wearing any kind of dress was labeled a princess. One by one she would name the girls in her Sunday School class, and they were all princesses too.
Finally, one day, the principle went beyond little girls and infiltrated the rest of society as well. Not only is Samara a princess, but mommy is a queen, daddy is a king, and brother is a prince!
It seems that the kind of princess she wants to be isn't the exclusive kind. It's not the kind of princess who thinks she deserves to be given everything and who expects to be waited on hand and foot.
This kind of princess mostly wants to dance around in brightly colored dresses, wear sparkly nail polish on her toes, clickity-clack around the house in feathery high heels, and flutter around in butterfly wings. Honestly, who can argue with that? It does sound fun.
And so ... I agreed ... to a princess party.
At first, I felt as though I had given in, flouted duty, broken a sacred vow, become my worst nightmare, let down God and country.
But in the end, it was not nearly as dramatic as all that.
It mostly just involved yards of pink material and ribbon, pink and purple icing, Cinderella games ... and a whole lot of brightly colored dresses, sparkly nail polish, clickity-clacking heels, and the rest.
It was a lot of fun.
Most importantly, my little girl (who is three now ... tear) went to bed feeling loved by her family, her friends, her neighbors, and her parents. They say people who grow up knowing they are loved have a much greater chance at succeeding in all sorts of areas of life. And so, I say, bring on the pink!
Besides, she's already wavered a bit. Recently, she said to me, "Mama, I'm not a princess anymore."
I answered with a surprise, "You aren't?"
She said, "Noooo, I'm a ballerina."
Lesson Learned: The road to Happily Ever After never looks quite like you think it will!