This February, I’ll be taking a 6-day vacation in Disney World with 3 of my closest friends while my husband is home with my kids. This scenario has been met with mixed reactions – from shock & horror to props and congrats. After being all over the place about it emotionally, I’ve settled into being #sorrynotsorry about taking a vacation with my friends to one of the happiest places on Earth.
I need these trips.
I’ve been taking weekend trips for years now, and my family has
begrudgingly unenthusiastically adjusted. Upon my departure, they ask me if I really have to go, and maybe they sulk a little, but I’m pretty sure that they understand that I need these trips. Before I was working 2 part-time jobs, I was a full-time stay-at-home-mom for roughly 4 years. While I don’t regret that choice, it made me realize that I had lost my sense of individuality, and I needed to reclaim it.
These trips are a way for me to make the space that I need for me. I can get away knowing that my husband is adeptly holding down the fort, and my family is just a call or video away. I’m able to enjoy myself without being responsible for anyone else, and it rejuvenates me. I believe that they can see a difference in me when I return home, and they understand what it means to me.
When my friends and I started talking about taking a longer trip, we knew we wanted to have a fabulous experience. A couple of these friends mentioned that their recent family vacations to Disney were great, but they missed out on so many things that their kids just aren’t into – things like shopping, photo ops, and all of the scrumptious foods. “How amazing would it be”, they mused, “if we could all go to Disney without our kids?” It didn’t take long for the 4 of us to agree that this is where we’re meant to go.
My daughters have grown up with Disney. They danced some of their first little steps to the Mickey Mouse Club House theme song. They’ve played together as Anna and Elsa. They binge YouTube videos featuring behind the scenes looks at attractions in the parks, influencers on vacations, and Easter eggs in movies. They really, really, REALLY want to go to Disney, and my husband and I will get them there…someday… because Disney isn’t cheap, and it’s going to take us lots of planning and saving to take our family of 4.
The struggle with the guilt has been all too real. I’ve felt guilty about being gone so long, as my max is usually 3 days. I’ve wrestled with thinking about other things we could have used the extra money for. I’ve been faced with disapproving feedback from other adults/parents about our destination. I’ve gotten the horrified How could you do such a thing?!? vibe from several moms. Others have admitted to being jealous. I’ve also received some wholeheartedly genuine Good for you!s, and for those, I am very grateful.
In all honesty, I haven’t told my girls exactly where I’m off to yet. They know I’m going to Florida with my friends for a week, but I haven’t dropped the Disney bomb yet. Because while I feel they understand that I need to go away sometimes, I don’t think they’ll grasp why/how I could go to such a magical place without them. It’s been suggested to me that I don’t tell them – EVER, because it would break their hearts and crush their souls. Realistically, they’re going to find out, so I’m trying to carefully strategize delivering the news.
Getting over the guilt
So have I completely made peace with this? Nope! Because I know my daughters are probably going to scream, cry, and be furious when they find out. But I’m not a proponent of coddling my kids. There are going to be things in life that they see as being unfair. It just so happens that, in this case, the perpetrator is Mommy. So while I’ll feel bad that they’re hurt by my actions, I’ve resolved to stop constantly feeling guilty about taking what promises to be an amazing trip.
When I take the time to think about it, I’ve grown up with Disney, too. I played in our family pool as Ariel when I was a little girl. I had Tinkerbell floor mats in my very first car. I cried when Andy passed his toys along to Bonnie as I was about to head off to college myself. And I’ll be singing every word at the top of my lungs at the Frozen singalong with my friends.
In the time leading up to take-off, I will internally revel in every pregame conversation with my travel buddies about our planned outfits, mouse ears, snacks, and meet & greets. I will occasionally open the Disney app and excitedly scroll through our chosen fast passes and dining reservations. And – at some point – I’ll tell my kids as much as they’re ready to hear about it.