A few years ago, my husband and I decided to take our kids, ages 5 and 2, to Walt Disney World in Florida. We had just received our tax return and figured that it might be the last time we could go without worrying about taking kids out of school.
I knew practically nothing about Disney World, so I read up on the subject. I asked my Disney-loving friends for advice, checked out guide books from the library and read the latest posts on Disney blogs. I decided that this was going to be the trip of all trips…that one special time that we would all remember about for the rest of our lives.
One of my friends had bragged that her family had eaten a character meal every single day of their Disney trip, so I made it my mission to do the same. I called the dining reservation hotline every day for weeks until I finally got a meal time for us at Cinderella’s Castle. It meant we had to eat breakfast at 11:15, but at least we were in.
I wanted my kids to meet all their favorite characters (never mind that they hadn’t seen many Disney shows or movies) and I wanted us to ride on all the most fabulous rides, eat in the most popular restaurants and see the most exciting parades and shows.
Basically, I had every minute of our 9-day trip scheduled.
After 5 days of Disney “fun,” i.e. walking all day in the hot sun, no time for naps, battling crowds, standing in long lines, getting up early every morning to be the first in the park, and endless photos with characters, my kids were beat. They didn’t want to wait in any more lines, they didn’t want to sit around waiting for a dining reservation, and they certainly didn’t want to smile for another camera.
The tipping point came as we watched our daughter turn into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. After paying $60 for hair, nails and make-up on our 5 year-old, we were instructed to walk to the next building to have her picture taken.
At the photo studio, we waited in line for 30 more minutes until it was our turn for pictures. As the photographer called us to come over, my daughter abruptly decided that she didn’t want her picture taken. No amount of sweet talk, promises or flat-out bribery would make her sit for a picture.
I don’t know what happened next…I just sort of snapped. I remember walking out of the studio before I started into my rant about our expensive vacation and how she was ruining it. Then I stood in the middle of the Happiest Place on Earth and shamed my precious little hungry, tired and worn-out girl for not getting her picture taken. In front of hundreds of people.
My sweet husband, whom I love more than life itself, couldn’t even hold me back. I continued ranting and raving all the way back to the stroller rental, where I proceeded to vent to the cashier about how awful my girl was acting, especially after we spent so much money and time on “her dream vacation.”
Hours later, I felt just terrible…I had acted worse than the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Ursula all rolled in one. My unrealistic dream of a perfect Disney vacation had been more important to me than the tender heart of my baby girl. How could I have been so mean?
[Tweet “My dream of a perfect Disney vacation had been more important to me than the tender heart of my baby girl. How could I have been so mean? “]
Luckily, she cheerfully accepted my apology and thought no more about it, and we actually had fun on the last 2 days of our trip.
I asked my daughter, who is now 8, if she remembered that terrible day at Disney World. She doesn’t (and neither does my husband), but I will always have it tucked back in my mind as a lesson of how not to be a mother.
Dear Heavenly Father, you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Thank you for using these “Bad Mom” moments to teach us mothers to be more like you. Help us also to become gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love for our children.
Erin Myers is a stay-at-home mom of 2 beautiful kiddos and has been married to her hero for 13 years. She blogs at mymommyworld.com, where she hopes to inspire moms in their everyday lives with recipes, homemaking tips, and more.
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She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.