I admit it – I am addicted to Hallmark movies. My DVR is full of these wonderful little flicks year-round. Yes, I realize that each one follows a very specific formula, and you usually know exactly what is going to happen within the first five minutes of watching but I still can’t stop watching. Recently it dawned on me that we can all learn some fairly important life lessons from these cheesy little gems.
- What you need and what you think you need are not always the same thing. In the movies, there is always a character who thinks that she needs to make partner in her company by year’s end, or to marry the sensible-but-totally-wrong-for-her guy she’s been dating forever. By the end of the movie she always realizes that what she actually needed was some more balance in her life, a more suitable partner, or to follow her own dreams. As a mothers, this is an important lesson. Sometimes it’s the small things, like I thought I needed to bathe every day and realized that sometimes I need a nap more than squeaky clean skin. Sometimes it’s the big things. For example, I thought that I needed to allow my children to participate in every activity they ever dreamed of for them to be happy, well-rounded individuals. It turns out I needed to cut down on some of the stress in my life and my children’s by actually limiting what they did. I also needed to teach them that they had to make priorities because time and money aren’t in endless supply.
- Life is going to throw you some curve balls – don’t panic and learn to adapt. The heroes or heroines of all the Hallmark movies always have something that happens to throw all of their plans out the window. The old boyfriend she never quite got over shows up in her life out of the blue. Their entry in a competition gets sabotaged and they have to come up with a new plan overnight. Just when she thinks she has that promotion in the bag, she finds out it was given to the boss’s new golfing buddy. Life is always going to throw off some of your plans no matter how exact your planning is. In my world, school always came fairly easy to my husband and me and socializing came naturally. When our first son was born, we assumed that life would be the same for him and we would just foster the best environments we could for him as he sailed through life like we did. Then we realized that things weren’t so easy for him, and we spent four years pulling our hair out trying to get someone to give us some answers so we truly could do what was best for our son. We finally determined that he had an Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and a language processing disorder. Things weren’t going to be easy for him at all. We had to shift gears and adapt and make a new plan, different schools, different programs, and it worked. Now we’re getting our own happy ending of sorts as he is about to graduate from college, something we didn’t think would be possible once upon a time.
- Don’t believe everything you hear. It never fails that the leading ladies or gentlemen in Hallmark movies hear through the grapevine that their beloved has done something horrible. They lied, or maybe left town to pursue their dream job or a previous love interest. These facts always turn out to be exaggerated or flat out untrue in the end. Even though everything always turns out exactly right, they regret rushing to conclusions. As a mother, this hits home with me more often than I’d like to admit. Quite often, it’s my child telling me of some horrible atrocity perpetrated upon them by a sibling, a classmate, a teacher or a coach. I shift immediately into hyper Mama Bear Mode to protect my poor child and seek justice for him. More often that not, the problem turns out to be simply a misunderstanding, an exaggeration or possibly even a flat out lie. Now, there have been times that after calmly doing my due diligence I discover a wrong truly needs to be addressed, but that tends to be the exception rather than the rule. I have had to learn to keep my composure, check the facts, and in the gravest of situations, turn things over to my much more level-headed husband so that I don’t actually make things worse.
I’m going to spend my holiday season watching as many sappy made-for-tv Hallmark movies as I can, even if they are predictable. Because there’s one final lesson these movies have taught me as a wife, a mother a friend and family member. Happy Endings can happen and you should cherish them when they do.