Now that the holidays are behind us, it's a great time to start to plan or just daydream about a vacation. I love living vicariously through others by hearing about their trips, but when the conversation turns to my family and our upcoming travel plans, I cringe. My husband loves Disney World, and we travel there often with our toddlers.Thanks to the Ursulas and Gastons of the world, I'm loathe to tell people about it, because when I do, the judgment I get for taking toddlers to Disney World is harsh.
Disney World holds lots of special memories for my family. It's where my husband often vacationed with his late father and where we went on our honeymoon. It was there that we realized we really wanted to have a family and decided to give IVF a try. Later, we fell in love with the name of our waiter during a babymoon dinner in Epcot and gave that name to one of our sons. With any luck, by the time you read this post, I'll have another Disney memory to cherish, having just finished my first half marathon. We enjoy going there and we've never asked anyone for the funds to help us do it, which is why I don't understand people who feel entitled to tell us how dumb they think we are for going back time and time again.
Before I became a parent, co-workers, Facebook friends and even family members would sneer at my vacation plans by telling me that Disney was for children. It's obviously family friendly, but there's also plenty to do that is geared towards adults, from nice restaurants to bars and live music. As for the parks themselves, just because you aren't surrounded by curse words and bare breasts doesn't mean adults can't like it.
Once I had kids I thought the judgment over where I choose to vacation would end, but it seems people really love to criticize other's parenting choices. The first time we took our twins to Disney they were seven months old. We were going stir-crazy, found ourselves with a few days and some extra funds and decided to fly down to Flordia. It was just what my husband and I needed to recharge our batteries. The boys ogled the bright surroundings and snoozed on us with the help of baby headphones and Ergo carriers while we walked hand in hand and ate ice cream. It was while we were there that the babies started sleeping through the night. In short, it was awesome.
The only dark spot on our trip, and every time since, has been the number of strangers who ask us why we bring children so young to Disney World, since they won't remember the experience. We've been called everything from crazy to stupid, right to our faces. I respond politely, but really, I want to tell these folks to mind their own business, using words my Fairy Godmother would not approve of.
If everyone waited until their kids were old enough to remember things before they did anything fun with them, we would all sit and stare at a blank wall until our children were in preschool. By that logic, no fun should be had when a baby won't remember it. No birthdays, holidays, and don't even think of putting them in a Halloween costume before they turn four.
I'm also bothered by people's willingness to jump to conclusions about my family without knowing us. A couple vacationing in Disney World with babies- what if my husband and I were in the military and were about to be deployed and wanted a vacation first? What if one of us or one of the children was ill and we wanted to make sure we had this experience together? I'm fortunate that this wasn't the case for us, but still, commenting on a stranger's life choices without knowing them, over something as petty as where and when they choose to vacation is astounding to me.
We've taken out toddlers back several times since then, and even though they are almost two now, the rude comments keep coming. People love to ask us if we get sick of going to the same place year after year. Short answer- Nope.
I know many families who take an annual vacation to the same place every summer- they rent a beach house or return to the same island, and yet no one questions that. Somehow returning to the same strip of sand and water each year isn't boring enough to pass judgment on but going to a place with four theme parks and a multitude of entertainment is.
Bottom line: vacation is meant to be enjoyable for those experiencing it. My family going to Disney World doesn't impact you, so unless you're going to tell us to have a great time, I suggest you follow Ariel's example and not say anything at all.
(image: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com)