Saturday, February 27, 2010

Paper Bag Princess

Remember this story? Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.

Here is a summary of the plot from Wikipedia:

Princess Elizabeth was planning on marrying Prince Ronald, who was practically perfect. Then along came a dragon, which destroyed her kingdom, kidnapped Ronald, and burned all her clothes so that she had no choice but to wear a paper bag. She tracked down and outwitted the dragon. She challenged the dragon to burn forests with fire and to fly around the world. The dragon completes the tasks but after flying around the world a second time becomes tired and falls asleep. Elizabeth then saves Ronald. He didn’t even thank her and told her to come back to rescue him when she looked more princessy. Then Elizabeth realized what a bum Ronald was, told him off, and went off to live her own life.

Robert Munsch is genius.

As a child, I read this story wondering why the Prince didn't thank the Princess. Why didn't she make him?

I didn't understand the significance of this story until I was an adult who had loved and lost and conformed and rebelled and finally, figured out (mostly) who and what I was all about.

As a kid, Princess Elizabeth lost all her belongings, fought a fight, outwitted a dragon, saved her true love all for ... well... nothing!

As an adult, I can see now it wasn't for nothing, it was for something most important...

Independence and the realization that a women needs to be alone and put her self number one to discover and grow and learn.

Also... never settle for a bum!

- - - - - - - - -

I had a few boyfriends in highschool and a few in college. There were a few bums, well, there were a lot of bums, though I didn't realize it at the time. I was always very dependent on my boyfriend and in highschool especially felt like I always NEEDED a boy in my life. I had more crushes than I can count and more boyfriends, however short-lived, than I care to recall. There was always this driving force in me that made me BELIEVE I actually NEEDED to have a boyfriend....

Besides all the small, short, temporary relationships I've had three "major" relationships ("major" to me is about 3+ years long) though there was another relationships that lasted a number of years on and off which also meant a lot to me...

We met when I was 16 and became penpals instantly. Soon that developed into more and we always thought life would lead us to "the inevitable conclusion" which was us together. It was long distance and therefore impossible to maintain at 17, despite cross country trips on semester breaks, but we remained great friends (and frequently more) for years.

The last time I saw him was a few years ago and things had changed.

Where once, no matter where we were in our lives, our hearts connected and while reunited it was like no time had passed... now... he was dating his best friend from highschool and felt like the next "reasonable" step was getting married... and having kids... which he did, with her, not me.

To be fair, at this time I was single, with a young daughter of my own and no plans to move to where he was, even if he asked me... our paths separated.

- - - - - - - - -

As for the "major" relationships I can summarize them briefly:

1 - Met and fell in love, had awesome time together, were like best friends, wanted different things, ultimately separated ways on horrible terms. He left me while I was pregnant and alone and lost.... He reappeared when our daughter was 4 years old wanting to have a relationship with her.

2 - Met and fell in love, had a turbulent relationship of extreme up's and down's, crazy fun but terrible fights. He had demon's he could not overcome and ultimately we separated ways. I hoped he could figure himself out and get healthy, instead, he got worse and passed away.

3 - Met and fell in love very quickly, got married and experienced a very stressful year of firsts (dating, married, living together, family, etc.) We will have been married three years in May and though we have our up's and down's we ultimately click. We have many similarities and many differences but we have what matters most... Love... and with that we believe we can accomplish, overcome and resolve any and all issues.

There's my love life in a nutshell... though there are other important relationships I had that taught me much about myself and helped me understand, these are the four that are most significant.

It wasn't until I experienced these good and bad relationships that I could fully appreciate being single and alone. I was a single mom but I was in university, I was working, I had great friends who supported me and I was independent and strong.

I was a mother and a student and a friend and I was HAPPY!

I learned more about myself and how strong and amazing I was. I realized how much I could overcome and accomplish without help from any man or relationship.

I discovered who I was and who my true friends were.

I found happiness was in ME and not in who I was dating.

It took a while, but I got there and then, I met my husband.

It wasn't until I could stand alone happily and willingly that I could be a part of a successful relationship.

- - - - - - - - -

Saying I've experienced my own share of love and heartache feels like an understatement, however, I doubt I'm much different than any other woman nearing 30.

Loved and Lost.... Discovered and Grown.... Lived and Experienced....

I feel like too often women put their ability to be happy in the hands of other men and relationships, when in fact, the only way to find a healthy, truly worthy spouse is to first find a happy, healthy you.

If you are co-dependent or rely too much on others, you can never truly be aware of how amazing you are all on your own!

Of course I couldn't realize this in highschool as I went through dozens of Prince Ronald's... it took time, pain and heartache to learn... but it was the only way.

- - - - - - - - - -

So now, reading Paper Bag Princess to my own daughter who is 6, I am enlightened in a way I wish I had seen as a child and I hope my daughter can see when her time comes....

Women don't need happiness in a man or a relationship. They need to find it in themselves.

Princess Elizabeth lost all her fancy clothes and wore only a paper bag, but she was beautiful and strong and smart and even though Prince Bum didn't care... it didn't matter.

She was beautiful!

Find strength on your own.

Find happiness.

Find you!


  1. So true! I always heard that you couldn't truly love someone else until you loved yourself. I didn't know what that meant until I was in my 30's. Find a life you love first, then look for the guy!

  2. It's amazing how you hear it your whole life Pam, but not until you are an adult do you understand it!