I was never really into Disney princesses when I was little. I guess, being the token female in a house of testosterone, that behaving overtly girly was never an option. As I morphed into a mother of daughters, I had no choice but to jump into getting to know every Disney princess with both glass-slippered feet.
I have watched every Disney movie from Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast so many times I could bust out the songs and dance choreography at a moment’s notice. For me, the princes did not make me swoon. I have discovered through a great deal of life experience, that a prince on a nice horse or a magic carpet is not going to swoop you up and save the day. Plus, who wants a man like Aladdin who can pull off parachute pants better than you?
I found it easier to bond with some of the princesses’ attributes. However, instead of coveting their gowns and finery, I was most envious of the magic around them. What I wouldn’t give for some forest animals to come make the beds, clean the toilets and tackle Mt. Laundry all while singing a catchy little song. Of course, there are things from the Disney movies that make me cringe. I am a firm believer that there is more to the process of falling in love than hearing someone sing or seeing them twirl across a crowded dance floor.
I have found with the passage of time that my offspring possess some of the same qualities as the pretty princesses. My oldest child Lauren, like Merida from Brave, is a nonconformist. I gave up trying to get her to wear anything frilly years ago. She much prefers wearing her OSU jerseys. Then there is the unruly, thick head of hair. Upon leaving the house I gently ask her if she plans to do something, anything, with her locks to which she responds, “I just did.”
Helena, my middle child, could easily jump into Pocahontas’s moccasins. She is a born teacher, lover of nature and communes with critters. She would be quite capable of showing a group of European males the know-how to survive in North America.
My daughter Maria is spunky and curious like Jasmine from Aladdin. She would not hesitate to climb over the castle wall to check out what’s on the other side. She is also tough like Fa Mulan. She puts on her armor often to fight injustice and is fiercely loyal to her family. She stands firm when facing authority. Maria was three years old when she looked my father-in-law in the face and politely but determinedly stated, “My name is not ‘Honey’. It’s Maria Rose Darah.”
Finally there is Ruoyon Liu, but due to our inability to pronounce her name correctly, to us she is May. She came into our family from China just before her 14th birthday. Like Ariel from the Little Mermaid, she left the world she knew behind to live in a strange new home. She also reminds me of Elsa, the Snow Queen, from Frozen. Elsa was forced to contain and shut off her true personality. May once told me in a somber, non-expressive tone, “In my culture, we do not express emotion, but I want you to know that I am very, very happy.” Really? This is you happy? I am thrilled to report that she now expresses her emotions with the same enthusiasm and vigor as the other princesses in this house.
As the resident Queen Mum of these ladies, I will do my best not to turn into a spiky horned witch like Maleficent when they miss curfew or lock away their powers and beauty. I will nurture their dreams, fuel their passions and maintain their hope. I will say with great regularity the words of another Disney icon, Winnie the Pooh. “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”