This time of year is always overwhelming for our family. Joel works steadily around the clock at his office to meet pressing deadlines. This leaves me to solely manage the affairs of our home and children. Therefore, I am always on the brink of insanity, but these past seven days have been unusually stressful.
Last week I quit my job due to a precarious situation that was worsening in nature daily. Since then I have been tense as I search for a new source of income to pay for our Disney Vacation Club membership. Our failing economy hasn’t done much for my job search or my nerves with the “doom and gloom” that is now a regular part of the news, but this is not the full extent of my recent anxiety.
My 32nd birthday was this past week. The occasion should have been a joyful one, but it was quickly overshadowed the following day by mournful circumstances. Joel’s beloved grandfather passed away. This man was considered a great pillar in the community that we reside in and touched many lives, so not only is our family dealing with a great loss but we are also expecting to host hoards of out-of-town family and friends as they arrive for the multiple memorial services.
I look at the disarray of my home, and I feel the muscles in my neck tighten with stress. I am a mom who homeschools, manages the health issues of three children with a medical condition, and serves as primary administrator of all Disney matters in our home. For this reason, I simply have not been able to keep up with house cleaning during Joel’s absence. After all, if you put me in a position where I have to choose between freshly laundered clothes or perfectly planned advanced dinner reservations in Epcot, I will choose the advanced dinner reservations every time.
It is perfectly clear in my mind that choosing to spend my limited amount of time in this manner has been wise. But as I look at the dirty underwear strewn across the house by Elle, who invariably strips en route to the potty, I hesitate to believe that my impending guests will feel the same.
The task of cleaning a neglected home, carrying my regular load of responsibilities, and hosting a nearly continuous flow of guests is a thought that makes my knees buckle and my forehead wrinkle in tension. It is obvious that there is only one thing to be done. There is an immediate need for relaxation.
I make my way to the kids’ bathroom for a hot, relaxing bath. Their large bathroom with double sinks and a full-size tub is quite roomier than the claustrophobic outhouse and stand-up shower attached to my bedroom. For this reason, I have been known to steal away from time to time into the relaxation of a warm, bubble bath that the kids’ restroom can provide . . . just as I do now.
I walk into the tiled room and make my preparations. The lighting is dimmed as I turn off the overhead lights and put a match to numerous candles on the counter. A pleasant aroma fills the air when a few drops of essential oils are mixed into the hot water filling the tub. The soft and soothing touch of bubbles envelopes my skin as I step into the warm, liquid abyss that awaits. My whole body relaxes when I hit “play” on my CD player that emits various Disney tracks and mentally transports me to my paradise on Earth, Walt Disney World.
It proves to be a pleasant time. I have been able to soak for half an hour with interruptions from my kiddos coming only at intervals of every five minutes. In comparison to other attempts at a relaxing bath that have abruptly ended due to the sudden onset of sibling enmity among my precious offspring, this endeavor must be considered a success.
On this particular occasion, though, I realize upon my emergence from the suds that I have forgotten to bring my change of clothes with me. So I wrap one of the kids’ bath towels around me as best I can and scurry down the hallway to my room. Unfortunately, Margeaux catches a glimpse of this happenstance and begins giggling. Because I fail to see the comical object of her amusement, I question, “What?” In between giggles, Margeaux manages to explain, “Your bottom and the top of your legs jiggle when you walk.”
Now I have always been one to appreciate the honesty of children. They are truthful even when it hurts, and—in my opinion—that is a rare gift these days. But on this particular occasion, I become a little alarmed. We currently have reservations at Disney’s Beach Club Villas. This resort is renowned for its pool that sprawls across an acre and features an impressive waterslide, lazy river, and sand-covered floor. It is my guess that we will spend a noteable amount of time there, and I will need to wear my bathing suit (which happens to be a two-piece).
I give Margeaux a troubled glance, disappear into the selcusion of my bedroom and shut the door behind me. Admittedly, I have entered my fourth decade of life and given birth to three children on the way. A little wear-and-tear is to be expected, but in my harried way of functioning, I have failed to stop and notice any spectacularly embarrassing changes in my body. I slowly unwrap myself in front of the mirror to further examine my once-shapely bottom. And there it is, the faintest sign of cellulite that does, indeed, jiggle when I step. I gasp at the sight. How can this be! I feel like I am having an outer-body experience. Here I am in my own skin, yet I am surely looking at someone else’s.
I console myself with the reminder that the lower half of my two-piece swimsuit resembles tight-fitting shorts rather than underwear briefs. Perhaps this will hinder any jiggling from taking place while I am poolside, and I can still feel confident and comfortable when at Mickey’s beach resort.
I sigh and manage to put on my undergarments before I hear Elle wrestle with my doorknob outside in the hallway. Another five minutes has passed, and she is about to burst in the room–right on schedule! Once she has wriggled the knob enough to trigger the door’s release, Elle unabashedly enters and inquires, “Mom?”
Caught half-dressed and struggling to get jeans over my abundant thighs, I do my best to act as if nothing is improper about this scene. But Elle, who has now set eyes on her nearly naked mom, stops and stares. She has apparently forgotten the original reason for her intrusion and is lost in thought. Finally she asks, “Mommy, is there a baby in your tummy?” I stand up straight in horror, leaving my jeans around my thighs where they seem content to stay. Did she just say what I think she said?
It occurs to me that in addition to not taking time to examine my ample rear-end, I have not recently bothered to scrutinize my abdomen either. I shut my eyes tightly, quickly pray that I can still find my toes, open my eyes and glance down. I am happy to find that my toes are still in view, but due to a now mildly bloated belly and enlarged thighs, I am unable to see my knees. The last time I dealt with this scenario, I was smiling from ear to ear because I was carrying Elle in my first trimester. But there is no smile today. In fact, the wrinkled forehead and tense muscles that my bath had vanquished have now returned.
“No, sweetheart,” I reply in a deflated tone, “Mommy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy.” She considers my response momentarily and then remarks, “Yea, that’s not a baby. That’s a jellyfish!” With that Elle makes her exit, giving me five more minutes of solitude to analyze the implications of her latest observation.
This is terrible! My two-piece may be able to minimize the jiggling of my derriere, but it is completely incapable of disguising abdominal jellyfish. What is a Mickey-loving, thirty-something, mother-of-three to do? I briefly entertain the thought of canceling our entire vacation, but the heinous nature of that sacrilegious act becomes immediately apparent. There must be another way, but the answer fails to come to me.
As I sit on my well-cushioned rump and my jelly-like stomach rolls over my underwear’s waistline, I squarely look at the situation before me. A mere ten minutes ago I had happily washed all my cares away and felt ready to conquer anything. But somehow I am now back at my starting point, feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angst-ridden and in need of relaxation. I will need to find an alternative method to soothe my knotted muscles and bruised self-esteem because it is certain that I will not be indulging in another bath anytime soon.
Contributed by: JL (NDM#1). JL is our Disney Driven Lifestyle Coach and creator of The Disney Driven Life as well as the Neurotic Disney People Community.