So, my family went to Disney World.
To make it more interesting, I write a garden blog, and before I left, I had all manner of friends tell me “You’re going to love the landscaping!” Opportunity knocked; I thought I would take a few pictures and write a nice little Disney World Gardens post. That is not what happened.
Oh, I saw the landscaping, but I mostly glanced at it over the shoulder of whichever bitty child had been pulled aside for a talking to.
My husband, David, and I are very vocal fans of a specific place in Mexico where children are as welcome as hurricanes. Our concept of vacation does not include twenty thousand daily steps on the pedometer. But as the bitties are into all the princesses, we thought it was time to go somewhere a little more magical for a slightly younger crowd.
You see, Disney was very magical. And also very not. David and I spent a heck of a lot of time parenting our way through it.
My intentions in vacationing there were good. I wanted to connect with my family. And my dream was reminiscent of the commercials: grinning mom pulls daughter close while walking toward fireworks carrying Mickey ear balloon. The problem was that nobody told Ellie that she was supposed to play the role of accepting and grateful daughter, and nobody mentioned to Georgia that she was supposed to play it cool flying “no nap.”
But, once again, it wasn’t about them. They’re little. Bitty, if we want to get technical. It was about me and my responses. Here’s the deal: I was made for heaven. A real, physical place where everything is right. Perfect, if we want to get technical. And when “the most magical place on earth” doesn’t live up to my expectations and doesn’t fill my empties, it’s just a reminder that I wasn’t made for here. This is not my home. And I can plan and pack and prepare the matching shirts, only to have it all fail me in the end because even Disney magic can’t fix an imperfect world.
The Mouse doesn’t hold up to eternity.
There are some heavenly-like places, so I could get mighty comfortable here. So in that light, I consider it a mercy that Ellie put her mouth on every handrail between here and Tomorrowland.
I promise I’m getting to my point. If you go to Disney and you look around, everyone’s parenting. There are fitful kids and end-of-their-rope parents and much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And yet somehow none of this makes it to Instagram or in Disney commercials.
Once I repented of trying to get Disney to fill my empties, the mood actually started to get magical. Yes, it could have been that the bitties got used to the routine of the transit/crowds/overwhelm/shared hotel room, but it’s likely that it was just my attitude getting adjusted that breathed some happy into our family. Ellie told me the Gatorade there tasted “just like candy.” Snow White tickled Georgia and told her she laughed just like Dopey.
Darn you, The Mouse . . . just . . . darn you.
If Disney and I had a relationship status it would be “it’s complicated.” Far more complicated than a few photographed moments. So the next time I get a Christmas card, scroll through some Facebook pictures, or get lost in a beautiful Instagram account, I want to remember what The Mouse taught me: that it is feasible to push a double stroller packed with crying children while also crying yourself. And also that the happiest place on earth doesn’t hold a candle to what waits for us in eternity.
So what’s your Disney World? No shame in hoping, but if we need here-and-now things to bring us the happy, it’s never going to be enough. To mix a metaphor, Dorothy was right: there really is no place like home. And for believers in Jesus, this earth will never measure up.
But if you ever need to reach me in this life, look for me on a Mexico beach recovering from my vacation.
xo, Holly Mackle from @sameheresisterfriend
This piece is an excerpt from Same Here, Sisterfriend, Mostly True Tales of Misadventures in Motherhood.