My mother is a modern-day, have-it-all, role model woman. She went to medical school after being a successful teacher and graduated first in her class. When she got married, she arranged to share a job with another doctor running a NICU at a hospital. At a time, when women were supposed to be able to do it all, she found a way to job share in a profession which usually doesn’t consider that an option.
That willingness to negotiate a work-life balance, allowed her to take me and my daughters for girls-only trips throughout their childhood. Our first trip was to Disney World. We relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company. We let the girls dictate our pace and our direction. On that trip, we rode Dumbo at least 100 times…just because the girls wanted to.
I tend to be quiet and thoughtful, so sometimes I miss fun opportunities. One night when the table next to us was celebrating a birthday, my mom encouraged us to sing. By the end of the song, the entire restaurant was singing and we were rewarded with pieces of the birthday cake. My oldest enjoyed it so much, she ate two pieces.
I think the best part of about having a Grandmother is that she relaxes the rules, teaches you to sing out loud, and notices the differences from the last visit, so you can treasure the changes. I am so glad that my daughters have gotten to take Girls Trips and I am so lucky to have a role model mom.
The EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival is taking place right now in Florida. Hot Hubby and I have plans to attend later this year. We love the creativity, tastes and smells of EPCOT during this event. I have always loved to eat, but preparing it is another matter.
I have never been a great cook…make that good cook…better say tolerable cook. So it is a good thing that Hot Hubby doesn’t like to eat. It makes us the perfect pair.
I once had a discussion with a great cook, who said, “If you can read, you can cook.” I disagree completely. I own and have read multiple cookbooks. I gather all of the ingredients, I measure everything carefully and I get to that dreaded phrase, “season to taste.” If I knew how this was supposed to taste, why would I need a cookbook? It doesn’t tell you with what to season. So I end up throwing in all of the spices I own, and it tastes awful.
I am a practical person and I hate recipes that call for part of something. I once tried to make Orange chicken from a recipe that called for half a can of orange concentrate. But what am I supposed to do with the other half? Not wanting to be wasteful, I just added the whole thing…..not a good idea. My kids still talk about how awful that chicken was.
Maybe because I am such a horrible cook, it lets me appreciate when I eat something spectacular. I love the creativity and presentation of the food at Disney. It always inspires me to want to try harder when I get home. I just have to make sure I have the fire department on speed dial for my next attempt.
Most of my parenting skills were taught to me by my oldest child. It is funny, with your first child, you think you are an amazing parent. Then you add the second child, and you realize it wasn’t you. But now you have to figure it out and quick!
My children were awful nappers, which made me an exhausted mother of two. I admit, when things got rough, I put in a Disney movie. One of our “go-to’s” was Dumbo. My
oldest decided that when the “Baby Mine” song came on, I was required to stop whatever I was doing and rock her in the rocking chair that my grandma rocked me in.
In the film, Dumbo’s mother, Mrs. Jumbo, an elephant locked in a circus wagon, cradles her baby Dumbo with her trunk while this lullaby is sung. It was an ingenius idea, because whenever daughter wanted attention, she inserted the movie, Dumbo. Then a little while later, all activity stopped and I focused on her for a whole 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
When I later attended a behavioral parent training, I realized that this does exactly what they tell you to do. Focus on the children, when they are doing something right and reward that good behavior. Instead, most parents ignore the kids until they are doing something wrong and then have to yell and scream.
So all of my best parenting skills, I learned from my oldest child…..and Dumbo.
For our first trip to Disneyland I read everything I could get my hands on. Back then, travel guides were the thing…I am showing my age. The popular guide had a “Dumbo in a Day or Die Touring Plan.” It gave a plan that would let you see everything in the park in one day with the best route and order of rides. It was efficient and effective and exhausting. We didn’t die, but we had sore feet and cranky kids by the end of the day.
It is so easy to get caught up in trying to do everything. You want to get your money’s worth and Disney is expensive. But you came to Disneyland to spend time with your family. Enjoy your family as well as Disneyland. Spend a little more for extras like a character meal or a table service restaurant. Families don’t get enough time to just be together.
Take a few minutes and take some pictures. The new PhotoPass allows everyone to be in the picture and the Disney photographers are great. They capture that hug with TinkerBell or when Tigger grabs mom’s head. They have the right filter and lighting and everyone is in the shot. Mom can relax and be part of the fun, rather than being missing from every picture.
Life is getting faster and faster and family time is less and less. For your next trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, relax and take the time to enjoy your family.
I have always envied Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Belle “wants adventure in the great wide somewhere.” Just like her, “I want it more than I can tell.” I rushed through college and began working before I graduated. I started building my career. I built a family. I bought a car and a house. I worked hard and got satisfaction from making a difference in the world. I did all of the “normal” things but I started to feel small and smothered.
It has taken a while, but my girls are grown and independent. I have a new Hot Hubby that encourages me. I am ready for the Adventure. And I want to pass it on, so that my girls don’t wait as long as I did to get out there! I think there are only two times in your life when you are really free…in college and in retirement. I missed my chance in college. I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.
I would like to write more, but Belle and I are headed to China to visit Mulan. What’s on your bucket list?
Disney artwork/properties: ©Disney
My mother has a saying, “Life is not a parking lot. It is more of an ocean.” She describes all of the change that is never-ending in your life. People always expect life to be the same, but in reality, it is rolling like an ocean.
Some people, like Pocahontas, embrace this change. She explains in “Just Around the River Bend,”
What I love most about rivers is:
You can’t step in the same river twice
The water’s always changing, always flowing
But people, I guess, can’t live like that
We all must pay a price
To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
What’s around the river bend
Waiting just around the river bend
I dramatically changed my life and that of my family, by marrying Hot Hubby. I knew I was making the right choice, but I knew my family dynamic of “Three Musketeers” would be no longer. Now when the family assembles, every one still wants their one on one time with Mom. I try to accommodate the requests, but someone always feels left out or slighted. As a result, I feel pulled in multiple directions. I try to please everyone, but end up pleasing no one.
Pocahontas embraces what’s around the river bend. I think I know what is around this river bend. My girls will only want my attention, until they get a husband of their own. The pull will end, when they have their own children to chase. I will have grandchildren to love and treasure. Our family will grow larger and stronger. And I get to grow old with a wonderful man. I think that is worth whatever waterfall or rapids we are traversing right now. Don’t you?
What is around your river bend?
Disney artwork/properties: ©Disney
I love the lines at Disneyland. It sounds crazy, but I have had the best, longest and most revealing conversations with my children, in line at Disneyland. Now that my children are grown and gone, we don’t have family dinners or time around the television. We have a few texts or Facebook messages, but the times for a real conversation are minimal.
That is why I treasure the time in Disneyland. This is a big chunk of 6 or more hours together, without phones or work. I never understand why families split up and then wait in separate lines. Then they have to try to find each other and they cut in the lines to join up….but that is another topic.
The key to making the time count, is to be there, right there, with no agenda or attitude. It is easiest to start the conversation, like you are talking to a stranger. Ask them about their life and their dreams. Try not to let any of the past arguments or judgments slip into your conversation. Be there, in the conversation, without worrying about anything that you might be missing.
I have countless pictures of people waiting in line and talking on their phone. How could anyone on that phone be more important than the people enjoying Disneyland with you today? Like Trace Adkins warns us in his song, “You’re gonna miss this.” Be here, right here and enjoy now.
Let’s go stand in line together!