|This is the happiest we looked at the Happiest Place on Earth|
Cylas just turned 4 years old. 4 years old! Can you believe it? My baby is 4! So in honor of this epic birthday my sister, Natalie, (who also has a 4 year old son, Kaeden,) and I decided to plan an epic birthday adventure for the boys. Destination: Disneyland! Full scale invasion. This meant two days in the parks and staying overnight at the Disneyland hotel for two nights so we could get an early start in the morning and enjoy the resorts amenities. We looped our parents in as well to act as helpers and babysitters for Aaron (now 17 months.) It was going to be epic! It was going to be expensive but worth it! We were building core memories here, people. We were going to have the time of our lives!
And then it all went to shit! The night before we left, I got sick. That full body ache, shivering, feverish, sore throat kind of sick. But I shrugged it off. I'm a grown up and a mum and mums don't take sick days. I can take my medicine, down some Advil and make it through anything if I have to, so we all piled into my sister's mini van and drove to Anaheim. Cylas had been sick the week before but he seemed his usual self and Kaeden had also been sick recently, but we pushed right on through. These boys would love Disneyland so much that a runny nose wouldn't stop them. Our first morning, I woke up with the sorest throat I could imagine. Tearfully, I went to my sister, parents and husband and asked for help. Natalie, Eric, Grandpa and the boys headed into the park while my mum, baby Aaron and I waited for a concierge doctor (fancy!) to come to our hotel room. He came, he declared a strep throat diagnosis and he injected my (in the buttocks) with penicillin, steroids, and gave me pain killers and a ten day course of antibiotics. With a renewed sense of hope and some relief (due to the pain killers) my mum and I headed into the park to catch up with the 4 year-olds. Aaron quickly fell asleep in the stroller and we found the boys in Tomorrowland looking tired, wilted and unenthusiastic. They had ridden three rides. Enjoyed them, but weren't feeling great and needed to head back to the hotel for naps.
|At least the hotel room was nice|
|Grammy and Grandpa deserved a treat.|
But that isn't what happened here. I didn't do anything wrong, right? It was just bad luck. People get sick. It's cold and flu season and we all got sick. They didn't even get sick because we took them Disneyland. They were already sick, because they live in the world. And actually, when I asked each boy what his favorite part of the Disneyland trip was, they both had really positive answers. Cylas simply said "All of it!" and Kaeden said "All the rides!" (I think they did about four each.) But I still felt devastated, because it didn't play out like I was imagining. And I felt regret about the whole trip.
|Sick Kids=Poor Mickey Mouse|
The other day, I took Cylas for a haircut. I love his long mopish hair, but he was starting to look a little feral and so I took him in for a trim. I explained to the stylist on duty at the kid's haircut place that I wanted it out of his eyes, and a bit shorter around the ears, but that I loved it long. She gave him a mullet. It's not horrible, but it's not great. He doesn't know. He likes it. He likes that it is different, and "not tickling his ears" but I came home feeling sick to my stomach. I've been thinking about it for days. Why didn't I describe what I wanted better? Why did I take him for a haircut in the first place? Why did I take him there again when I don't love the way she cuts his hair?
Before Christmas I planned a nighttime adventure to Descanso Garden's Forest of Light, because I had heard it was truly magical and I thought that Cylas, especially, would love it. Last year we went to the Zoo's nighttime lights and he ran around with his two little friends and had an amazing time. I'd heard that Descanso Garden's lights were even better, so I got tickets for the whole family and even one for Nana who would be visiting on that night. I had pictured Cylas running around happily through the forest of lights with his dad while I pushed a contented Aaron in the stroller as he gazed around dreamily at the lights. It was going to be magical and my children and husband would hug me later and say "Thanks for this experience. You are loved and appreciated!" But then Eric had to work, and Cylas fell asleep on the 50 minute car ride there (which is always a recipe for disaster because he's often in a bad mood when he wakes up from car naps.) It was also much colder than I had anticipated and we were all freezing. Instead of the idyllic Holiday evening that I had pictured, Aaron and Cylas cried for most of the 45 minutes or so that we walked around the dark and we all froze. Other visitors were dressed in snow jackets and hats and scarves. My kids don't even own jackets (we live in the Valley), and their hooded sweatshirts weren't cutting it. Even my MIL ducked into the gift shop to buy a sweatshirt and hat. Cylas barely got out of the stroller and Aaron cried like he was in pain (maybe he was? I thought maybe he was having stomach cramps, but who knows) and I felt like an utter failure as a planner, and as a mum. It took me days to recover from the disappointment and regret. Why didn't I bring more blankets? Why didn't I make sure Cylas stayed awake? Why didn't I double check the temperature? Why didn't I make sure that Aaron didn't have a stomach ache? Why why why?
But maybe my problem isn't regret, it's expectations. I have high, specific expectations for my children and my life with them, and when reality doesn't live up to them, I fall down the rabbit hole of regret. But I don't think my kids are aware of my expectations, and I do my best to hide my disappointment from them. And to be clear, it isn't them I am in disappointed in, it's usually me. My choices. My plans blowing up in my face.
|If only it was always this easy|
|Lake Casitas Water Adventure|
And this isn't to imply that all my plans are disasters. We've had a lot of "successes" as well and I should really learn to just dwell on them. I've thrown a couple of awesome birthday parties, complete with games and themed foods. I planned a surprise birthday trip to Ojai with a water park adventure (everyone in LA needs to check this place out next summer. It was awesome) that went off with out a hitch. And the other day, we did a family hike to a waterfall and there was very little crying (I didn't say no crying...but very little.) After each of these wins, I felt great. I felt confident. I felt like one of those people I'm always envious of on Instagram. I just need to bottle that feeling so I can take little nips of it when I'm feeling regretful. And I also need to remind myself that my children don't really care. After each of these "failed" plans, they still loved me. They woke up happy and smiling. They don't even remember the experiences as negative at all. Cylas has already asked to go back to the "Night Lights" again next year. And, you know what? I'm going to buy tickets and try again! Disneyland will have to wait, though. That shit is expensive!
|Paradise Falls. Almost everyone is smiling. Success!|
I once worked with an actor who had the words "No Regrets" and "Relax" tattooed on his forearms. He also had his initials tattooed ornately on his tricep but, you know, to each his own. I remember asking him about it and he simply said, "They are there as a reminder." He didn't have kids at the time. Since we worked together we've both had 2 children. I wonder if he values that tattoo even more now. How much does he value the reminder these days? I'm betting a lot. Maybe I need to get a tattoo as well!