I was never really much of a Disney fan as a kid. That may widen some eyeballs and spurn a few gasps, but I really wasn’t.
I know I enjoyed more than my fair share of Disney Movies on VHS growing up. But a Disney vacation was something that just wasn’t within the reach of my family.
And we tend to be afraid of wishing for things we don’t think we’ll ever have reasonable access to, do we not? I didn’t want to get my hopes up for a Disney Parks vacation, so I in turn scoffed at the thought of one.
Money Was Very Tight
I grew up in a very small town in Kansas and money was always stretched to the gills. Bank notes and overdraft charges were a regular thing once upon a time. Both of my parents worked, it was just hard.
I do remember going to the circus once and Silver Dollar City, but vacations for us were few and far between. They always meant deep sacrifices later in several other areas to absorb the cost.
Siblings, cousins and neighborhood pals were always my best entertainment. We went skating, explored the neighborhood and played rag-tag softball in the field next to my house.
On vacations and holidays, my brother, sister and I mostly stretched out in the back of the station wagon. We slept as we drove to my grandmother’s house overnight (before seat belt laws were a thing). And those weren’t bad times, my grandma had a huge garden with chickens on her property and she sold vegetables at a roadside stand for a living. She enjoyed canning and working the land.
I Yearn for the Simple Things
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it was a hard-working, yet simple existence that I really value for my own kids today. We don’t live on a farm, but simplicity and contentment are very important to me.
There are a lot of things I loved about my “Hamburger Helper” childhood and simplicity was at its core. I loved riding bikes to the pool, playing rec center softball every summer and $1 after-school skates.
Contentment is something I really strive for, for the kids and myself. I want them to be just as happy with two sticks and a mound of dirt as they would be with a full day at a theme park.
I’m Pretty Much a Tight Wad
You could also say that I’m a bit of a budget Nazi, and that all stems from the still-tender financial pain points in 2009.
We worked so incredibly hard to get back on our feet after our own financial crisis. After an unexpected job layoff, we made deep, deep cuts everywhere in the budget just to be able to scrape up enough money to keep our house. But we lost it anyway and it was a harrowing experience.
We fought hard and sacrificed a lot to come back from that. After getting everything in order and learning how to budget and save, we finally become debt free five years later in November 2014.
After learning how to strip a budget down to its bare bones day after day for what seems like forever, it feels so extravagant to spend a lot of money on a vacation, even now.
But… Opportunity Abounds
As a writer and a mom blogger, I received one of the coveted invitations to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in February 2017. The conference locations were announced as the Walt Disney World theme park with a Port Orleans-Riverside Resort stay, and a 3 day cruise to the Bahamas on a Disney Cruise Line.
I was immediately floored and excited. This is a huge opportunity in my world, and a big compliment to get invited. It meant a lot to me to get one.
Old Habits Die Hard
And then I thought, oh, man this is Disney. Am I really worthy to be there? It must have been a mistake. Are these my people? Do I really belong here?
We all still have those little kids inside us. Afraid to hope and feeling like we don’t belong.
It isn’t free or cheap to attend the conference. But after getting serious and intentional about budgeting and saving, we saw it was possible. I also had the option to bring my family along.
You Only Live Once
After mulling it over long and hard for 7 days, I decided that I would live with regret if I didn’t go. And I RSVP’d yes.
So here I am. An extroverted introvert with a typical aversion to crowds and long lines, packing my bags and heading to Walt Disney World with my kids and my beautiful mother, who just retired after working almost all of her life.
Now, at 42 years old a Disney vacation is within reasonable access to me. We’re learning new phrases like rope drop, magic bands, fast pass and fish extender. But I know I will enjoy this time with my kids and my mom, even if everything isn’t perfect or I need a lingo translator.
My awesome fellow Disney SMMC writers and bloggers have been so helpful with planning and what to expect. I am heading straight for Hollywood Studios to see two of the biggest holy grails of our family: Pixar Place and Star Wars Jedi Training and I cannot wait.
I’m a Good Mom Regardless
Truth be told, I’m a good mother whether we ever go on a Disney vacation or not. (Just as my mom was.) And the kids will still play barefoot in the yard when we get back.
But every kid should get to experience something like this, if only just once. Especially the little kid still living inside of me.
She’s definitely still in there. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
New posts to come about the trip and our experience! In the meantime, follow along on my social media channels to see how we’re doing!