My friend Patti* announced to our group of mutual friends that after a long period of trying to decide if she really really wanted kids, she was pregnant. We raised our glasses of nonalcoholic sparkling cider and toasted her future, then Ellen, one of our childfree friends, leaned over to me and whispered, “Well, I guess she got her happy ending.”
It’s been weeks since this scenario, and I can’t get it out of my head. Why is it that for so many women, a “happy ending” means the over-the-top wedding with the fairy princess bridal gown or a baby? Just look at movies geared toward women—“chick flicks”—and you’ll see what I mean. Stressed-out career gal lands hot leading man and looks forward to blissful domestic life. Cinderella gets her Prince. The bridesmaids finally all get along. Soft-focus on a pink, pudgy baby as happy parents gaze lovingly at each other and fade to credits.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my journey, is that there are no happy “endings,” but lots of new beginnings. I mean, if you think about it, Patti’s ending is actually the beginning of a new chapter in her life, one that I hope will be mostly happy. And if there’s another thing I’ve learned, it’s that there are as many definitions of “happy” as there are people.
Some of my happy beginnings include finally getting married in my mid-40s because I loved the guy (versus needing to find a father for future children), discovering the satisfaction of a challenging and thriving career, having the time and energy to be a devoted friend and the world’s best aunt, and doing some things that are fun and are just for me.
Happy ending? Pfft! I’m just getting started!
*Not their real names, of course.
I’m experimenting with trying new things, trying to figure out what I’ll include in my next chapter. Taking a class (or going back to school?), engaging in potential new hobbies, challenging my mind and body in new-to-me ways…all are on the to do list. I’d love some inspiration and hope you’ll share your ideas/plans in the Comments. xoKGW