For Thanksgiving this year, we headed to Orlando, Florida to visit my in laws for the holiday. I was one of those who swore that I would NEVER take my children to Disney World when they were far too young to remember. I reasoned that my earliest memories were pretty much around age four and since my oldest is just over 2, no way would I spend the money or stress myself until they were older. Well, as is often the case in motherhood, I was forced to eat my words.
My Argument in Support of Disney
What changed my tune from “they will not remember, so it isn’t worth my stress or money” was when I began making the slideshow for Jack’s first birthday. I’m not certain this is a positive tendency, but I usually follow my children with a camera in hand, ready to memorialize their lives at any given moment. I partly do this for my children to reminisce when they older, but mostly I do it for myself.
Much to my sorrow, my babies are growing up at record speed. Everyday they become a bit more independent and overtime, I know that will only continue. Ultimately, and as it should be, they will create their own lives and families. Although I know I will always be a part of their lives, I also hope that my memories and photographs will comfort me during times when they are busy living their lives. I guess what I am trying to portray is that you should not wait to create memories with your children until they reach an age where you believe they will remember the moment. Make memories always and make them for you.
Let me take a step back and admit that my days are not filled with the stuff of fairytales and events of memory-making caliber. I work part-time from home making me a quasi-stay-at-home mom. Most days, I am still in my pajamas by um, well ok, ALL DAY, and the kids are too. My floors are dirty, my hair is a mess, and I raise my voice far more often than I care to admit. But I do believe that every now and then, you have to create experiences that stand out. Something that makes you take a mental picture because you never want to forget that moment. The moment when your primarily independent but sometimes affectionate two year old touches the side of your cheek with his perfectly squishy hand, says “mommy, you got a bobo? I kiss it?” and your heart soars. Or when your 10 month old who prefers to be on the move snuggles up into the crook of your neck, completely relaxes and allows you to breathe in his perfect scent. It goes without saying that these moments, which I will cherish for the rest of my life, will not be remembered by Mark or Jack.
That is not the point; I will always remember.
Now that I was on board to head to Disney World and make some memories for me, it took some convincing to get my husband to acquiesce. My task was made easier because my oldest, Mark, turned 2 in August, and Mickey is quite simply his hero. The boy is head over heels for Mickey and particularly, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He sleeps with a stuffed Mickey, and every morning without fail he wakes with one simple request: “I watch Mickey??” We did not let Mark watch television until he was much older, but the first show he ever watched was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He used to bop around to the hot dog song with some enviable dance moves. His favorite character and show is and has always been Mickey.
I basically won my plea when I informed my loves-a-good-deal husband that our kids would get in to Disney for free. His only worry was the amount of people. I assured him, without any real evidentiary support, that it wouldn’t be too bad going to Disney the week of Thanksgiving. Here is where I admit that I was wrong, again, and a complete novice at the whole Disney thing. But I ultimately convinced him, and he agreed to go, albeit while grumbling.
Creating Magical Memories
We made it to Disney around 10:30 am without any real plans or idea of what the day had in store. We knew that at the end of the day, all we needed to accomplish was to meet Mickey. It would be lagniappe if we could lay eyes on Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Since I am breastfeeding my then 8 month old, we immediately went to the baby center for some privacy; which kudos to Disney, was perfect.
As I came out, my mother-in-law (I cannot say enough great things about her coming with us since it allowed us to do so much more), informed me that George had taken Mark towards the Castle to see Mickey and Minnie’ performance. I needed to see this…to see him observe Mickey for the first time. I literally ran to find them and when I spotted my Mark on his daddy’s shoulders, dancing and sporting the biggest smile I have ever seen, my eyes filled with tears and I could not speak.
I should disclose here that I am so not one of those Disney people. You know the ones, adults that love to go to Disney alone and without kids. No judgment; it just is not my thing. Well at that moment, I felt things shift and am now converted. Sort of. I struggle to articulate what the moment was like for me but suffice it to say, I will never forget the look on my son’s face. Although my husband will be none too pleased about this revelation, he got a bit emotional watching our son’s pure joy.
The rest of the day was truly magical: we rode rides, split a candied apple, danced with Goofy and Pluto and finished the day with a one-on-one meeting with a talking Mickey. It was a perfect day. Yes, there were too many people, the lines were too long, and the food overpriced. But it was truly one of the best days of my life. I am so glad we decided to go, regardless of whether my kids will remember it. I doubt they will. But I will never forget the look on my baby’s face when he saw his hero, and for that, it was worth it!