Temps in Orlando today hit 96 degrees Fahrenheit. It was hot. It was thigh chafe, sweat down your back, soggy sock kind of weather. It was brutal. At EPCOT we stopped for shade at good number of pavilions in the world showcase. The sunscreen was literally just melting off of us. And I’m so excited to be on this airplane knowing in going home to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I may not even put my sweatshirt on. Just because I want to feel cold for the first time in four days.
Walt Disney World is an amazing place to be. I used to go fairly often until I got married. This was my first trip back since then and it was a trip with no hubby and no kids, just me and my sister.
A few years ago I would have told you that taking young children to Disney World is the most ridiculous idea I had ever heard of. They are too little for the good rides, they need to be carried or pushed, they need diapers changed, they get tired fast and tantrums suck. Now that I have three I wish I could go back in time and slap my pre-mommy self for being so selfish. How could you not want to see those smiles and that laughter on your child’s face when he/she encounters fireworks, or princesses or rides for the first time?
Walking around Disney this time was really the first time I truly noticed the parents with small kids. What fricken bosses. Carrying their babies, infants, toddlers and even elementary age kids who were too tired (or too young) to walk, like champs. Their faces drenched in sweat, their child’s cheeks beat red, legs flopping, mouth agape. Pushing gigantic strollers stuffed with bags of diapers, bottles, snacks and of course, wipes. Or that one couple desperately trying to catch their toddler’s vomit as she literally spewed all over her stroller during the fireworks show. I applaud them all. The heat made me miserable – and I’m an adult traveling with one other adult. How they did it, I have no idea.
This was also a pretty emotional trip for me. It was my first extended period of time away from my three girls. And it was hard. It was hard saying goodnight to them then night before I was set to fly. And then that next morning after a canceled flight gave me another few hours with them. I cried when I face timed them, and when my husband sent me (terrible) pictures. I cried when my husband told me that my two year old kept asking for me, or when my sweetness tried kissing my picture on her daddy’s phone.
And during this trip, I didn’t experience the sights, sounds and rides as an adult who had been there before. Yes, I enjoyed everything I did. But in the back of my mind I was always thinking about my girls and how much they would love each of the things that I was doing. How selfish I was for being there while they were at home.
Our first night (since our canceled flight lost us the day) we attended a dessert party in Magic Kingdom that allowed us preferential seating for that nights’ fireworks show. Despite having been to Disney half a dozen times since a child, I had only ever viewed a fireworks show once. It was fantastic. But all I could think about was my two-year old and how fascinated she would be to watch the fireworks with me. And I felt like a bad mom for not having her with me.
When Evelyn was a baby and celebrating her first Christmas, my father bought her a travel Frozen suitcase. He said that when she turned five, he and his lady friend would take her to Disney for her birthday. At the time, I was completely on board. Because dumb me, who wants to take a five year old to Disney? The following year, when the twins turned five, they would go with their own brand new suitcases.
But this trip cemented in my mind something that had been brewing about in my mind for a few months. And I just can’t let my daughters’ first trip to Disney be with someone other than me. It may be selfish, but I want to be the one to see the wonder and amazement on their faces. I want to scoff at their choosing chicken nuggets for the seventh time during the trip. I want to be the one to endure the tantrum over souvenirs or tantrums just because they are so exhausted. I want to be in those photopass and ride pictures with the, on their first trip to Disney.
My life revolves 98% around my children. I stopped working to be home with them. I am with them 24-hours a day, seven days a week. And yes, it’s feckin’ exhausting. And yes, I lose my patience and yell. And yes, I give my toddler the mom arm grip when she’s not listening. I don’t read much anymore, or write. I don’t exercise like I should and I eat unhealthily too often. But at this point in my life, I’m not stressing out about these things. I want them to be happy, I want them to be well adjusted socially, and I want them to experience the world – the library, the park, the children’s museum, the lake near our house, the beach, flying a kite, sprinklers, falling off the bottom of a slide – I want them to be able to have fun and be kids. If I stayed home all week and just let them play inside and watch television, then sure, I would have time to read my book and write. I may even have the energy after they go to bed to do even more of that. But I choose to exhaust myself by taking them out multiple times a week. By running the errands alone with them so our weekends are spent as a family doing fun things rather that grocery shopping. It’s my choice. And sometimes I regret it – sometimes the day is just too hard. But in ten years when I look back on their early childhood I can at least say that we had fun together. I can say that I didn’t waste my time being ‘just’ a stay at home mom.
It is a sacrifice no matter what way you look at it – working and having to send your child to daycare is a sacrifice, as is giving up your job to stay home full-time. We chose the latter, and are significantly poorer for it. But getting to see those smiles and hearing that laughter all day, well that makes it worth it. And the sheer exhaustion and aggravation of flying with three small children and going on a trip to Disney world – well it will be all worth it to be able to have that experience with them.
But since we are poor and living with one income, it won’t be that soon.
Disney 2020, here we come.