The Mom Stop: Take the best, forget the rest
They say that a woman is so exhausted, dazed and disoriented in the days and weeks that follow childbirth that the memory of actually birthing her child — and the difficulties, fears or pain involved — are largely forgotten.
Perhaps women wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to such life events. Maybe the happy memories that follow the birth make up for whatever wrenching pain that it took to get there.
But I think there are other times when, looking back, the memories are overwhelmingly positive and happy, even though the event itself may have been stressful. Getting married could qualify, or the first day of kindergarten, or potty training a kid.
For me, it’s taking my kids to Disney World. I know I’m not alone.
On a Facebook message board, one Alabama mom recently described her Disney vacation with her three young kids as amazing — although, there was the time where her 12-month-old’s diaper leaked while she was holding him up look at a parade, she added. It resulted in poop leaking down her arm in the middle of a crowd in the dead heat of summer — but those details seemed not so bad, looking back on it all, she explained.
A trip to Disney with young children is like weathering a bad storm. It’s hectic and exhausting and stressful, and when you are in the midst of it all, you aren’t sure if you’ve ever walked so far or pushed a stroller so long in your life. But then, when the week is over, on the drive home when the kids are talking about their favorite rides or they fall asleep in their booster seats with their monogrammed Mickey hats tilted on their heads — the more difficult moments seem to melt away.
Two years ago, we almost lost our son at Disney’s Hollywood’s Studios. Our son, then only 5, walked out of a men’s bathroom into a crowd and quickly became lost. At the time we were on a Disney vacation with a party of 13 extended family members — and panic quickly ensued. The adults in our party ran around the area and walkways outside the public restroom, screaming our son’s name. My husband ran to find a Disney employee to report our son missing. And while I yelled out for our son, trying to find him, I started to hyperventilate. Tears streamed.
It took only 15 minutes to find my boy, but it felt 10 times as long. I’ll give it to the Disney “cast members,” when a kid goes missing, they radio out a code word to employees and everyone goes on alert. It was a person working at an ice cream stand who finally found our son.
After that experience — not to mention the stress of going to theme parks for five days with practically every person on my side of the family tree — I swore off Disney. I needed an easier vacation. I needed something simple and carefree, I told myself.
Which doesn’t explain why, last month, we were back at Disney, again, with family, again. (Although it was only my in-laws this time, thankfully.)
I think there’s something exciting about planning a big vacation that you know your kids are going to love. My 8-year-old daughter is big into Harry Potter, and so we went to Universal Studios for the first time. Watching smiles spread across my son and oldest daughter’s faces after we got off the Harry Potter Gringotts ride was worth all 140 minutes of standing in line.
My youngest daughter, now almost 3, is obsessed with princesses, especially Elsa. And so, watching her wear her Elsa dress as she walked down Disney’s Main Street, hand-in-hand with my husband, was great. Watching her face light up as she saw Cinderella’s castle for the first time (or at least the first time she remembers) and fawn over meeting the “princesses” was worth every one of the 23,201 steps I took that single day in the Magic Kingdom.
Luckily, no one got lost this time — although I strongly considered writing my phone number on my kids’ arms in permanent marker just in case. It was by no means a stress-free vacation.
But now, after a few weeks home, I can officially say it was fun. It was worth it. Will we be back so soon? Probably not. But never say never.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.