Once upon a time, after a long day’s work, a woman collected the children from the babysitter and waited for her husband to come home.
The woman did not wear an apron, or pearls, or have fresh homemade chocolate-chip cookies waiting for him.
Instead, she wore a t-shirt, a ponytail, and a frazzled expression as she consoled small children and fed the baby and rewashed the laundry because she had forgotten to switch it to the dryer. Again.
When her husband came home, she did not greet him with a loving kiss, or take his jacket, or ask him how his day was.
Instead, she handed him the crying baby, pointed him to the cookbook, and took off down the road, her running shoe laces trailing behind her as she disappeared into a cloud of dust.
The woman returned home, feeling refreshed and relaxed. She paused for a moment at her doorstep, fondly reflecting on all that she had in her life, when suddenly a sound interrupted her reverie. It was the sound of all three children screaming, their pitches ranging in an impressive array of highs and lows, some heard only by dogs, drowned out only by the frustrated shouts of her husband trying desperately to regain control, and the sizzling of the stove as something in a pot boiled over.
So the woman did the only thing she could.
And ran away again.
There may have been a time in my life when I would have felt guilty for being this woman. I may have wondered why on earth I had worked so hard to “have it all,” only to feel like I couldn’t handle it. I may have wondered if having it all was more akin to my ten thousand Pinterest pins—inspiring and beautiful, but completely unattainable in a deflating sort of way. I might have contemplated if my marriage was one of the worst on the planet because I don’t always kiss my husband when he walks in the door and that on most days, we go to bed at completely separate times.
But the truth is, some days I am that woman. And while I may not have it all together in my quest to have it all in life or marriage, it doesn’t matter.
Because I’ve realized that I’m still living my happily ever after.
It just may look a little bit different than I once thought.
It’s that endless quest towards doing better in our marriage and as parents, but realizing that we are doing our best.
It’s living in the now while dreaming of the future and telling the stories of our past.
It’s applying that brand new lipstick in the shade you love and finding one suspiciously small bite mark out of it.
It’s planning a date night and falling asleep on the couch.
It’s starting the workout video and ending in a tickle fight.
It’s the moment you watch the man you love hold your daughter for the first time.
It’s the happiness of coming home to a screaming baby, two squabbling siblings, one stressed out spouse, another burned dinner, and realizing you already have a happily ever after.
Even if you have to occasionally run away from it.
Image via J & J Brusie Photography (sadly, it is not really me)
More by Chaunie: