HOLLY MACKLE | CONTRIBUTOR
So we went to Disney World.
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 have myself a nice little Disney World gardens post. This is not what happened.
Oh, I saw the landscaping, but I mostly glanced at it over the shoulder of whichever child had been pulled aside for a talking to.
My husband and I are very specific fans of a very specific place in Mexico where children are as welcome as hurricanes. Our concept of vacation does not include 20 thousand daily steps on the pedometer. But as our girls are into all the princess, we thought it was time to go somewhere slightly more magical for a slightly younger crowd.
You see, Disney was very magical. And also very not. My husband and I spent most of the time parenting our way through it.
We went to Disney World and my sin came out. Big time.
My intentions 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 double mouse balloon. The problem was that nobody told my oldest that she was supposed to play the role of accepting and grateful daughter, and nobody told my youngest that she was supposed to play it cool flying “no nap.”
A Greater Dream
But, once again, it wasn’t about them. It was about me and my response. Which wasn’t exactly mouseke-awesome. And here’s the deal: I was made for heaven. Not some puffy white cloud, angels strumming harps kind of place…but a real, physical place where everything really 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 that’s what it’s made to do.
The Mouse doesn’t hold up to eternity.
I could get mighty comfortable around here. But my God is a jealous God and he won’t let me to get too comfortable. So he allows my daughter to put her mouth on every handrail between here and Tommorowland.
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. When I started watching the parenting happening around me, I literally saw a grown woman walking and crying. No joke.
So then I repented of trying to get Disney to fill my empties and it actually started to get magical. Yes, it could have been that the girls 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. My oldest told me the Gatorade there tasted “just like candy.” (That’s because we weren’t watering it down, but who’s going to own up to that.) Snow White tickled my youngest and told her she laughed just like Dopey.
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 solid with crying children while also possibly 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? Is it indeed a vacation? A job? A dream of something to come? No shame in hoping, but may we have eyes on the real prize. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
But if you need me in this life, look for me on a Mexico beach recovering from my vacation.