The princess of 2017

New Year’s Eve: The celebration of the start of a new year.

This is often a time of reflection, where we look back at the past year and note our failures, triumphs and those things we remember in between.

Since I woke up an hour earlier than usual, my thoughts are a bit scattered. But I want to try to focus on one thing: princesses.

Somewhere in my parents’ house are some photographs of me in my first Halloween costumes. The very first was Dorothy from “Wizard of Oz.” I remember it because I really, really wanted a store-bought costume. The dress was beautiful with a blue and white fabric. My mom used mascara to put some freckles on my face. In retrospect, it was probably the best costume I had as a kid.

A year or so later, I got first first store costume. It was of Princess Leia in her outfit from Hoth in “Empire Strikes Back.” I loved it. Leia was strong, sassy and knew how to use a blaster.

Except the eye holes were so small that I really couldn’t see anything. I can’t remember this clearly or not, but I think I spent most of Halloween with the mask on top of my head, rather than wearing it.

Dorothy was a princess in her own way. She saved munchins and led a rebellion against an evil witch. But Princess Leia was my first princess, the standard in which all other princesses, real or imaginary, were measured.

I loved the Disney princesses, but they were all kind of blah. Pretty but not really strong, respected or able to not need to be rescued. Though I did like Mulan and Belle probably the most. 

I wanted to be a princess. I wanted someone to sweep me off my feet and take me to someplace, something better. 

As a teen, I’d escape into fiction, creating a character who was embedded in the DC Comics universe based on “Batman: The Animated Series.” She is a princess who came to Gotham City because she was related to someone who lived there. Right now she’s ruling her kingdom and doing quite well. 

And as I aged, the character evolved. She was my escape from the taunting in high school, and the bleak existence fueled my puberty-driven angst. 

Now I have my own princess, Mountain Kid 1. I must admit, my first kid is my hardest kid. She knows how to push my buttons, and she is excellent at it. She also is a source of pride and inspiration. As many kids do, she is brave and often shows adults what it truly means to be human.

The recent deaths of actresses Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds gave me great pause. It’s kind of sweet how they died within a day or so of each other. But they also had a rocky relationship (chronicled in Fisher’s book “Postcards from the Edge”) for a long time and then reconciled.

My first thoughts go to their family and friends. It would be extremely difficult to deal with that kind of loss. It also causes me to look at my relationship with not only my daughter, but her siblings as well.

I am a survivalist parent. I do what needs to be done so I, and my family, make it through another day. I often try to be like other parents, but I’m not a person who cuddles with someone on the sofa, goes overboard with after-school activities or creates scrapbooks. Well, actually I am going to start organizing our photographs so maybe I do scrapbook a little.

I play football outside, show someone how to make a cake or help put stickers on a wall to decorate a bedroom. And I make you put your coat on when you just want to wear a T-shirt on a snowy day. 

Sassy (in the right circumstances), strong and I could probably use a blaster if I had too. (I prefer light sabers. They are weapons for a more civilized age.)

My daughter has seen young and old Princess Leia. She also knows about Rey, Jyn from “Rogue One” and Leia’s mom. She also knows Katniss and Hermione Granger. And the Disney princesses.

My hope that is when she gets older, my daughter will come to the realization that I have. She doesn’t need to be rescued, she is already a princess. In fact, all girls can be princesses in their own way.

I also don’t want to be a mother whose kids never call or write because I was such a jerk while they were growing up. 

Of course, now Mountain Kid 1 and her peers have a whole new set of role models. And they are as real as I am.

Princesses can be strong, like Misty Copeland. They can be brave like Amelia Earhart. They can be passionate about their causes like Carrie Fisher was about mental illness. They can be rocks that keep a family firmly planted and together like my mom and grandmothers.

They can use blasters, light sabers, chef’s knives and other tools of their trade as well as any man. They are true to themselves.

My princess is a runner like her dad, and to a lesser extent, me. But some things in her life have been causing her to question this passion and natural ability.  She hasn’t run in a while, except for when she has to. 

So this past week, it was warmer than usual, and I took her out for a short mile and a half run. We looked at Christmas lights and talked about shoes. Apparently Mizunos, Skechers, Brooks, etc., aren’t real shoes according to the kids at school. I told her stuff to try to make her feel better. Those kids don’t run so they don’t know what they’re missing or talking about.

Fuzzy pictures of a mother, daughter run. All I can see is MK1’s smile. This was my last run with my Mizunos Wave Legend 3s.

 The smile on her face was the best part of the run. And that’s how a princess is found. Just give a woman or girl something to make her happy. Help her find her passion and she will move mountains in order to keep pursuing it.

MK1 and I are going to start running together again this new year. Screw the people who say we shouldn’t go together because I’m too slow and hold her back. We both really like trails and hope to explore the area’s parks more than we have in the past.

We are own princesses. Brave, strong, passionate.

 How will you channel your inner bada*** princess in 2017?

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