While Prince Charming may slay dragons every now and then, it’s little things that make a life of “happily ever after.”
I’ve often wondered what went on behind the scenes in all the fairy tales. What actually led to “happily ever after?” While the whole idea of prince charming swooping in on his sparkling steed to slay dragons has a certain appeal, you can’t very well make a life of such things unless you live in a dragon den. I mean, how many dragons – literal or proverbial – do we really have to deal with? Losing a job or a loved one is a dragon, and while helping your partner through that is definitely Grade A Prince Charming stuff, I strongly believe that it’s the little things that you do the rest of the time that make life work. Life is more mundane than that. Thankfully!
My ex-husband used to go into my car and fill the CD-changer with new music that he knew I’d love. He knew my taste, he knew that I loved discovering new music, and he knew that without intervention I was so lazy that I’d just listen to Led Zeppelin all the time. (Literally.) (For real, Zep, 24 / 7 / 365.) My current husband brings me coffee in bed. Both of them could play on the ground with our daughters for hours without getting bored or losing their temper. They call from the store to see if I need or want anything. That’s the stuff on which we build a life.
But that’s rarely the stuff that we see modeled in media. Or anywhere. So I asked my Facebook world for examples of the things that the men in their life did that made them feel cared about. And honestly, by the time I compiled them, I was feeling pretty mushy from all the kindness all around us:
Sadee: I was having a really horrendous period and was basically trapped at the house without proper supplies. My roommate, Ron, was home sick. We live in different buildings on the property so text frequently to communicate. I shared what was going on and about 15 minutes later there is a knock at my door. He had gone to the store, sick as a dog, and got me supplies – the biggest pads he could find (and that I had ever seen).
Marie: He winks at me when giving firm directions to my kids – this man of mine embraced my three children as his own and loves them dearly, wants to guide them, and help me parent them. The wink tells me he isn’t upset at them (or me), it tells me he loves me, and that we are in this thing called life and family together!
Susan: When 5th grade Clara doesn’t want to get out of bed for school, my husband blasts old Sugarhill Gang and does ridiculous dancing in her bedroom doorway until she laughs her way out of bed.
Kristen: My father has written a song with lyrics for me. Once when I was a child, and once in my 30s. He also writes love poems for my mother every few years as a birthday or anniversary gift.
Jessica: When Ari and I got married, I was the one with full-time employment outside the home and he was the one searching for a job. But I chose to be a stay-at-home mom when my first child was born, and he went to work. After 10 years and 3 kids, I finally went back to work. I’d been cyber-stalking job listings for years and he looked on with encouragement. My first day at work, he got me a “Congrats, you did it!” card. It was the simplest thing. I knew he had been stressed, and he was worried, and overwhelmed, but he told me none of this. He simply smiled and expressed joy and got me a card. He said, “I know how much this job means to you.” I love this man because he knows what’s in my heart and what I need, even when I’m playing it cool.
Lynn: Being on a noisy campus is hell for me. So my husband put together a play list for me of songs just for walking across campus, another for sitting in public places there. I felt like I was walking around encased in a bubble of his love.
Beth: I used to date this wild biker guy with the beard and long braided pony tail and I was crying hard about some problems I was having at work. He put his arms around me and said “Sorry I can’t fix it for you baby but I can hold you while you cry.” Nicest thing a guy ever said to me in that situation.
Tracy: My car got a flat tire yesterday, I called him for moral support. He said, “I’ll take care of it. You can use my AAA.” I said, “they won’t let me use yours, if you’re not in the car with me.” 5 minutes later I get a text that AAA is on their way to change my tire. He’d added me to his coverage (we’re just dating, 6 months.) Although words are lovely, actions DO speak louder than words.
AJ: When I was a little girl I always thought that dogs were boys and cats were girls. A few years back I was talking to my father on the phone and I mentioned my dog and something SHE did. My dad said, “you mean HE, all dogs are boys”. Then I knew where that came from. Still makes me giggle. Especially since my father was a hardcore military man.
Annie: I was having a particularly terrible day. Something at work set me off. I was sad, and in a bad mood, and as grumpy as I’ve ever been. I told him I had a bad day and I wasn’t making dinner. I was going to come home and play video games, damn it! When he came home that night, he handed me a pack of these silly girly unicorn stickers. I’m not sure exactly why– but the whole idea that he knew I was having a bad day, and so did something cute and little in the hopes of helping me feel better just made me so happy. I’m not used to my partners honestly giving a damn if I am upset about something– and so his little gesture was so refreshing and fantastic. Every time I see those stickers on my desk I get a little giddy, even to this day.
Sabrina: I was going through a period of being very sick and stressed, was somewhat… estranged from my blood family, and realized that if something happened to me there was no one to take care of my cats. He promised me, unrequested, that he would take care of them. When I pointed out that he already had three, he said, in the most heartfelt way imaginable, “I don’t care. I’ll be a crazy cat lady for you!” That. When someone says they’ll be a crazy cat lady for you, completely without irony, while offering to do something nice for you knowing you won’t be able to thank them after it if it’s ever necessary, that is love. He also showed me it was okay to cry. Which is a good thing, because now I’m all misty again.
Molly: My friend learned to dance as a little girl by standing on her father’s feet. When she told me that I teared up. Just that perfect combination of strength and tenderness.
Dini: My father gets tears in his eyes when he holds my son, and cries whenever he says goodbye to us, and never cares who sees
As I read these the first time – and again now – I am just so moved by the incredible variety of humanity that can emerge when we care about each other. Seriously, slaying dragons is awesome, but you can’t build a life on that unless you want a life of serious drama day in and day out. (No thank you!) When you get right down to it, the things that make the longest impressions are often the little things. Letting someone know you are listening. That you care. That you’ll still be there. Just showing up and taking part is what you do day in and day out.
I’m guessing that Prince Charming does all these things. And likes Led Zeppelin.