I was fifteen when my parents took the family to Disney World. We went with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. That’s right… four adults, two teens, three kids, and two infants equal thirteen bags of luggage and a lot of noise. They were brave, my parents. After packing for what others might consider a trip overseas, loading us in vehicles, on an airplane, and arriving in Orlando around 10 p.m. we were the last eleven people standing (or rocking) at the luggage carousel as the conveyer belt slowly moved around and around, empty. Everyone from our flight had picked up his or her luggage and we were sent to the luggage claim area.
Luggage claim can be an experience even if you’re a lone traveler who lost your overnight bag. For us, it was late at night, we were sitting in a dark waiting area, (apparently, they don’t lose luggage after 10 p.m. and turn the lights out in claims) we were tired, hungry, and bored. Through all of this, I remember my dad at the counter discussing the difference between Orlando and Sarasota and my mom sitting in the waiting room telling stories, playing with the babies, and pulling snacks and drinks out of her carry-on like this was part of the vacation.
After a long, frustrating discussion, it’s decided we’ll move on and retrieve the rental vans in order to go to the hotel and get some sleep.
The rental company sold the vans.
We made a reservation for two mini-vans and they have a lovely five passenger Ford Focus (for thirteen people). Today, this image conjures up hilarious Jerry Seinfeld moments at the car rental desk. Then, it was more like, SERIOUSLY?! We drove to the hotel in two or three vehicles, my baby brother screaming the entire trip.
The first night things were rough. No pajamas, no toothbrushes, no clean socks or underwear. The next morning our luggage arrived from Sarasota, we picked up the mini-vans and the vacation was officially underway. I remember this crazy trip, the good and the bad. We have some awesome pictures of my brother crawling on the beach and the family had a wonderful time. What I remember the most is my mom’s ability to maintain a cool, calm, and collected aura through this trip and every other throughout my childhood.
Now, when my toddlers watch me throw my hands up in frustration over the missing Desitin or grumble under my breath as I’m cleaning poop off a bedroom wall, I’m jealous of mom’s ability to keep her cool. If our lives were set to a Disney soundtrack, mom would have all princess songs: “Whistle While You Work,” “When you Wish Upon a Star,” … Mine would sound more like “Cruella Deville.”
I don’t know how she does it, but I know one thing. My kids’ grandma demonstrates a priceless gift: calm, kind, and magical experiences even through the chaos.