Tomorrow morning my family and I will wake bright and early to go to Disney World. “The Magic Kingdom.” My dad gave my mom the gift of a family trip with all her grandchildren, for Christmas. My husband and our oldest son weren’t able to make it. John, started EMT school and didn’t feel like he could miss the first day of classes.
He’s so grown up.
And our conversations tonight over pizza included verbiage like, “We can meet up at fantasy land…” and “Once in a lifetime,” “Jedi training,” and “Princesses tea party.” I look forward to watching the vandals, our two and four year old sons, submerged in all things magical and fanciful. They are oblivious to what the morning holds.
They are so innocent.
“The Pixies” which is our nickname for the granddaughters, are a mixed batch. Two years ago they would have been chomping at the bit to dress like princesses. Now one of them will turn 21 on this trip. Two of them are 13-years-old… ugh, enough said. And two others cannot wait to primp in fancy taffeta and sparkles.
I am grateful they aren’t so grown up.
In the midst of the whimsy I have our infant foster daughter in tow. She is terribly sick with a sinus infection. She makes me think deep thoughts. Thoughts of love… thoughts of loss. Thoughts of the unknown. Hopeful thoughts of restoration and reunification. And I wonder, will she come back with her mommy and daddy someday?
Will she forget all about us and dance with princesses and have lovely dreams of all things perfect when she grows up?
I remember when I was little I wanted to grow up and be a teacher, and have a baby boy and a baby girl, and marry a prince from an undiscovered country who drives a fancy car. I dreamed of the fanciful and I hoped for things lovely, sweet, and happily ever after.
Then I grew up.
And at this point I have 4 boys, and 3 girls. My prince charming is from a tiny West Texas town, it’s kind of undiscovered. He drives a green tractor and looks perfectly stunning in Wranglers. And happily ever after is quite a bit of work. There has been loss and gain and loss again. Harsh realities kind of force you to reevaluate what happily ever after means.
We grew up.
I remember in college Justin came to visit me at my apartment after a “study session” at a pool hall with some guys from his Organic Chemistry class. He climbed my apartment balcony professing his undying love for me. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten my dad was in town for a visit. As he stumbled into my room singing George Straight and came face to face with my dad.
My dad said, “I thought you were studying? Were you in the closet studying?” And prince charming, who sobered quickly, said “No sir, I climbed up the balcony.” My dad flatly replied “I guess you can find your way out then?” Justin said, “Yes, sir, I can.” And scampered quickly out and down the way he came.
When I was young I dreamed of prince charming climbing my balcony… the semi-grown up version wasn’t as fanciful and slightly embarrassing. Alas, it is one of my favorite stories.
As I prepare for a big day tomorrow the things that slay me are the hurts. The joys are just as magnificent. Perhaps I am jaded… I want my children to have a magical time. I crave good things befall them, and yet… I also want them to seek a servants heart. Unlike me, I have hopes that they recognize that hurts aren’t all bad. And I hear it more than often than not, “I couldn’t do that, I am afraid I would get hurt.”
I said it too.
I feared the hurt. I dreamed of the charming and damask. Certainly, I don’t crave pain. Most certainly, I don’t wish horrors to befall my babies. I pray for their innocence, but more I pray they are brave.
This week in the Magical Kingdom is a gift, I hope it is memorable and I pray each of the children are grateful for such a time as this. Alas, my prayers have changed. As dear as this trip is, I want it to be set apart as special and different. Not a craving for a life of all glamour and privilege. That they would desire to do things that others fear… the things that really make a difference. I see in them a new dawn, an explosion of self sacrifice and an adoration for living the Gospel.
Maybe I am jealous? Jealous of the years before them where they know they’ll get hurt, and do it anyway. Jealous of the years I wasted craving the elite, pain free, and easy road. Grief stricken by wasted time… time that would have allowed us to reach out and help more in need. Alas, I didn’t know. I couldn’t comprehend. I was unable to think outside of my fears and the terrors of hurt… all this time?
If nothing else, I hope the years before me will be filled with such opportunities, and not theme park opportunities, although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to come back. Chances, time and again to live out the fantasy of a life set apart. I can only hope that I will be exactly as I wished I’d be… when I grow up.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
Psalm 119:105 (KJV) “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”