Earlier this year, I tediously began planning a Disney trip. The kids have only been once, five years ago, many of those memories for them few and far between. "It'll be magical"...those were my thoughts because that's what Disney is..., "MAGICAL"! I may tend to be a tad over obsessed when it comes to planning vacations (...ahem...roll eyes...clear throat...and move on)...this vacation was no different. We decided early on to tell the kids so they could help decide what they wanted to do and didn't care to do at this age. They're 8, 9 and 12, so planning and reading about the trip would be fun. I bought books, made lists, ran up the value of the Post-It note company with how many tabs I may have used. I didn't make a hard itinerary, and that was really reaching deep in my soul and trying to let go of some of my craziness. Matt wavered on to go or not to go...it's just so hard with his schedule to get away, but ultimately he decided to go...I was excited to do Disney as a family! A family picture in front of the castle at Christmas! Oh my! What could be better?
As it turns out, not every moment at Disney is magical. We are a pretty functional family of five...I consider us to be relatively "normal", but Heaven help us on vacation...someone (or maybe all of us) has some sort of meltdown at some point. You won't see it in the pictures, because frankly in the middle of any of those said meltdowns, I may have wanted to throw my camera onto the tracks of the nearest roller coaster. At one nice sit down meal, Cullen turned over Matt's water...I know, I know...I hear you now..."they're just kids...they grow up so fast...it's just water"...all of those are very true statements...statements that we are well aware of. Yet, in the midst of a nice restaurant with huge aquariums all around, and a very active 8-year old that apparently is so competitive that he pushes his dad's hand away, all while trying to cheat in a game on the kid's menu, the ice water glass was knocked over. Nobody got wet...I quickly and calmly helped clean it up...meanwhile, Matt threatened to frisbee his plate through the aquarium glass when Cullen nearly knocked a second glass over. It's a good match me and Matt...when he's ready to blow a gasket, I'm usually the calm one...when I'm about to have a mommy meltdown (which honestly is more often the case), he's there to smooth ruffled feathers. That being said too, on the night of the Mickey's VERY MERRY Christmas party, none of us were feeling very merry...we were tired...we were cranky, and a missing men's belt from the suitcase quickly became a blame game. As the sweet cast member applied my bracelet for the night, I was trying to just not sit down on the curb and cry at the loss of a "perfect family vacation". You see, often in life, we want that happy picture...that fakebook...oh, I mean facebook...picture. The one that everyone looks at and just says "Awe, what a sweet family".
It would be nice if life worked like that, but either it doesn't, or I know a lot of dysfunctional folks. Every time I walked by a mom or dad threatening their kids, or a kid just crying and screaming right in the middle of Magic Kingdom, I just smiled. At Epcot, I even got to hear a "this vacation isn't just about you" from a husband to a wife...my thoughts "thanks for making me feel more normal". On another note, a little girl around 6 years old in the bathroom yesterday was kicking and hitting her mom...the mom just so calmly squatting and saying to the girl "that isn't nice" as the little girl landed a kick to her mom's shin. Those aren't exactly the words that would've come out of my mouth, frankly...the folks in line probably would've reached for their camera if that were one of mine...but thank goodness my kids have known better than to hit us...just not something that's tolerated here, but in the middle of Magic Kingdom, I was thankful that wasn't one of mine.
I'm sure every SINGLE time I got in line for a Disney photographer to take our picture, at least one or four members of my family rejected the idea...occasionally they won, but I wanted my smiling pictures, even if some of our moment's weren't filled with smiles and laughter. This was typically my "you do what you want...I want pictures"...they'd all clamor in and put on a smile.
DIsney really is amazing...the attention to detail...from the flowers and greenery, to the costumes and floats. Side note here...I only caught glimpses of costumes and floats as the rest of my four couldn't care less. I drug them to watch Nemo, the musical at Animal Kingdom...it was our first day at Disney. It was one of my favorite memories from our trip before...you would've thought I took them in to see the ending of Old Yeller. Initially, I thought they'd grow to love it...I was wrong. They wanted action...roller coasters...cotton candy! They've seen Nemo...they know Dory doesn't remember jack-squat, and they couldn't care less if Nemo faked his death to get washed out to the ocean. I wanted to see Lion King....I was out-voted.
Day 4 really should've been a break day... a day of rest, a day to grow to love each other again...but when I planned, somehow I missed that part. We persisted through and because of my go-go-go planning, the not-so-magical moments popped up more often. What's funny now though is, even after being home just over 24 hours, already the meltdowns, the attitude, the crumby moments, they're already fading. Mostly now, it's the good memories invading my mind. I think of it like childbirth...we mostly forget the pain and bad memories (note, I said "mostly"), but instead we remember the first cry, the first time we held them...the good memories invade the bad. The fireworks overhead as we are riding a roller coaster...that was magical...it's the hugs and kisses...it's the competition on which of us could make the best face for the ride camera ..Matt won that by a landslide most of the time...those are the memories taking over. In life, I hope the kids remember the times I hugged them endlessly...not the times I lose my ever loving crap and my voice may wake the dead...same for the vacation, I pray they remember the good Disney vacation...the magical one...and at least I have the magical pictures to prove it:)
For those of you with young toddler girls...save your money now...plan a trip. In my opinion, plan it for when they're between 4 and 6...five years ago, Effie would wait in a line forever to meet Tinkerbell, Snow White or Cinderella. This trip, she's 9...she didn't want to waste her time..."nope...don't care" she would say. A big part of me was sad we were past that stage, but another part happily embraces the older stage too. She had been given the green light by her neurosurgeon to try smaller coasters and if she did ok, try bigger. We didn't do any upside down loops, but she did fast...she would hate it the first time, then ask to get on it again. Nearly 6 weeks ago, I wasn't sure this trip would happen after facing brain surgery for her, but she again, proves to us what a fighter she is...so full of life, and we are so very thankful! I am very thankful for my little tribe...they all keep life interesting and this trip was no different.
Even though there was a time during our trip that I swore we would never do it again...we will. It'll be magical...I just know it!