I’m a failure as a parent. No, really. I’ve been a mom for going on 9 years, live an hour from Disneyland, and am married to someone from Florida who thinks “Disney” is a synonym for “childhood,” and I’ve never taken the kids to see The Mouse.
Not that I didn’t want to go. Just not with them. Ever. (Seriously, would YOU pack up a preschooler, a kid with Sensory Processing challenges, a child with chronic enuresis, and a tween with a mood disorder and take them to ANY theme park?)
A few weeks ago, my husband threw a monkey-wrench into my Anti-Disney Resolve. He played the “I’m turning 40, and we’ve never gone to Disneyland as a family, so let’s do something special and take the kids for my birthday” card. What was I supposed to say to that??
I tried “No,” but that didn’t work.
And so I had to pull out the big guns. The questions that can help each of us face and overcome any fear:
What is it, exactly, that scares you?
Is it fear of failure? Fear of embarrassment? Fear of loss? All of the above? If we want to overcome a foe, we have to see it clearly first.
For me, it boiled down to these: I was scared 1) managing the bathroom needs of our 9 year old and the needs of the rest of the family would stress me out, 2) I’d be humiliated by my daughter with SPD melting down from the invisible-yet-itchy thing in her sock, or my oldest’s Tourette-like outbursts, or 3) I’d feel guilty for pulling my husband away from a day of work for the rottenest family outing ever.
What else is possible, besides what you fear?
This question opens us to hope. And the fun thing about this process is that it builds on itself. Once you get going, the list becomes nearly endless with possibilities!
As I drafted my list, here’s what emerged: 1) the day could be fun, 2) they might handle the lines just fine, 3) we’d have a good time exploring something new together, 4) it could open us up for more traditional family trips like this and 5) even if there were meltdowns and stressors, my husband and I would find the humor in it anyway, like we always do.
What do you need to tip the scales in favor of hope?
We’re not helpless in facing our fears. We come with a whole slew of skills, lessons learned, and our imaginations at our disposal.
As I thought about what the family would need, I started to get excited about the trip. Gathering fun snacks, special water bottles, and lightweight travel games for when we’re in lines got me back to using my strengths—I love to prepare and arrange things for people, and this was a chance to do that for each member of the family. That perspective shift gave me the second wind I needed to push past the fear and move in to the possibilities.
Getting back to what I was best at broke through the fear and strengthened hope. Enough hope to pile our crazy family in the car and face “The Happiest Place On Earth” without a panic attack before we even enter the park.
What fear looms large for you this week? Are you willing to ask these three questions to have victory over that foe??