Happily ever after– a hyperbolic expression that brings back childhood memories of lasting marriages and other fairy tales. But in all seriousness, it is difficult to understand this phrase detached from its connotations of one happy, heterosexual marriage and its promise of a large offspring.
My mind intuitively links it with the image of Cinderella and her Prince Charming, riding away in their carriage and giving each other a gentle (but never too passionate) kiss on the lips. Children didn’t need to be shown- one simply knew that that carriage would lead them straight to their splendid family life filled with many, many children. They were only one happily-ever-after ride away.
Looking back now, it’s sad that I used to assume that children were the natural effect of a happily ever after. I never even considered a childless happy ending. That’s certainly because this didn’t really bother me as a six-year-old girl. However, would my perception be any different if fairy tales made some room for those carriage rides that no one steers toward childbirth?
Fairy tales do certainly provide some room for infertile couples, yearning for a suitable heir. And yet, in some form or another, these childless couples are always granted their wish. A sparkle of magic or a mysterious woman, hiding parts of her face in a shawl, appears and helps produce a new life into existence. Once the new-born has arrived, the focus quickly shifts to that fresh life, his/ her adventures and own becoming-of-age story. Seldom, or dare I say, never, does the story’s focus linger on that adoptive mother who needs to grasp her own infertility. That woman who tries to understand that her body works differently, and not according to the traditional, customary and oh so fairy-tale-like “plan”.
There’s a dreary shortage of heroines out there whose stories of staying childless have been told. Even if this might not occupy little girls or boys before entering adolescence, it would certainly do no harm to alter their understanding of normalcy. Being a mother or conceiving a child isn’t normal. It’s a wonderful gift which, unfortunately, not all of us get to experience.
My wish is to sit down one day and to read a fairy tale that gives some space to women who find their strength in many other things but being a mother. Whose bodies are NOT defined by the strength of carrying an embryo. Our bodies deserve respect no matter what weight or scars they were marked with. Even though women have been celebrated, hailed and supported more than ever, infertility remains a grey area only a few choose to tackle. It is as if our motherly duty is the heaviest weight to lift. I hope that the years to come allow us to slowly venture down this road, in full pride, without feeling any guilt nor shame when talking about our bodies’ abilites.
At least, that’s where I see my happily ever after.