How a Disney Princess Taught Me a Lesson About Letting Go

4 years ago

For a year we talked about it.

We were going to meet the princesses at Disneyland just like last year. Maybe we would see Cinderella this time!

Last year we met Ariel, Belle, and Princess Tiana. My little two-and-a-half-year-old Lola shyly walked up to Princess Tiana as she knelt down to greet her. Princess Tiana took Lola's little hands in hers and spoke softly to her. I made myself take a step back so I could observe. I didn't want to interfere. And Lola still remembers it. It was magical.

So we've been talking about recreating that moment for a year. When we made plans to go to Disneyland again, we would definitely be stopping at the princesses' castle to meet them and watch Lola fall in love with the Disney princesses all over again.

The night before we went to Disneyland, we made a plan. We would get there first thing in the morning -- as soon as the park opened. Or thirty minutes later. And the first thing we would do is head straight back to Fantasyland to meet the princesses. We even brought her custom Sleeping Beauty dress made by Nana, a crown, and princess shoes so she could meet the princesses all dressed up. Just like some of the other little girls we saw last time.

The day had finally arrived! As we were getting ready we tried to put her dress on her. She said no. I didn't have any coffee yet. Dangerous territory. I wasn't ready for the fight.

I decided we'd bring the dress with us and change in line. Maybe she would be excited to wear it while we were waiting in line.

We hurried through the entrance and made a beeline toward Fantasyland, telling Lola all the way that we'd be meeting the princesses soon. We pull up to the princess castle. No line! And the holy trinity of princesses was in there: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Ariel! This is exactly what I had envisioned.

We park the strollers, I go for the dress and tell Lola it's time to change because we're meeting the princesses. To that she says, "No."

Me: "You don't want to wear the dress?"
Lola: "No."
Me: "Okay, well let's just go in and meet the princesses then."
Lola: "No."
Me: "You don't want to meet the princesses?!"
Lola: "I don't want to see the princesses."

{Insert the sound of my heart shattering into a thousand pieces.}

I know. I'm being ridiculous. I'll own it. But it's not about the princesses. I have a problem. No, I'm not obsessed with Disney or princesses or anything like that. I am obsessed with the idea of the way things are supposed to look.

I think there is this idea that moms are always trying to one up each other or out-mother other mothers. We're always striving to be good enough, bake the best cupcakes, give the best gifts, be the best teacher's helper, throw the best play dates, have our children in the cutest clothes. Keep up with the Jones'. Sometimes that's true. But sometimes it's not.

To me, it's totally about outdoing myself. It's my idea of what things are supposed to look like. She was supposed to be really excited. She was supposed to have curly princess hair and wear her custom pink dress and princess crown. We were supposed to get beautiful, smiling pictures, and I was supposed to take in this moment like the moment my daughter met her first princess last year.

But where do I get this idea about what things are supposed to look like? Society? Facebook? The Jones'? I don't know. But I blame nobody but myself. It's totally me.

Every Halloween I have an idea in my head that we'll go pumpkin picking and we'll carve those pumpkins like a happy little family. Then I used to get super disappointed when we'd flat out forget the whole thing. For Christmas, I used to have visions in my head of the whole family decorating the Christmas tree, The Christmas Story playing in the background, donuts, hot chocolate, all of our traditions wrapped up like a shiny, little present.

But sometimes it turns into: For the love of God, can we please get the tree up this weekend?!

I have a problem with visualizing things the way they should be. And then freaking out if they don't turn out how I envisioned. I should have learned by now. Maybe it's because I can't control the big things, so I want some kind of say over how the little things should look. On the surface, to some, it might look like showing off or perfectionism or whatever you want to call it. But really, it's trying to live up to the grand ideas I have in my head. It's me.

So my kids are always teaching me to let these ideas go. By ruining my visions of the way things should look and happen they're actually teaching me to stop trying to direct and create memories, but rather let them happen and live in them accordingly.

We didn't go see the princesses first thing that morning. Daddy suggested we go ride some rides and she was stoked about that. So I let it go. She was in heaven. So was I.

But that's not the end of the princess saga. At the end of the day we asked her again if she wanted to go meet the princesses. She was still not so excited about it. We took her over there anyway and waited in line just to see if she might be game. She didn't wear her dress. Her hair was in a side ponytail, messy from a day of cotton candy and fun.

When it was our turn, she slowly walked around the corner, and then it happened.

Magic with a messy side ponytail.


Mom to Gabe (14), Christian (4), and Lola (3)

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