Monthly Archives

June 2013

family,psychology

the good enough disney trip

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6/30/13
Next week we are making a trek to the “most magical place on earth” with our four kids — ages 8, 5, 2 and five months. As we began making plans I started looking around Pinterest for ideas, and I discovered that there is a lot you can do to create the perfect Disney World vacation.

Disney World is not just about the parks – it’s about anticipation and fantasy and magic. So you need to get everyone very excited. You do this by making a crafty Disney countdown calendar, preparing Disney-themed food (Mickey-shaped pancakes, anyone?), creating cool Disney t-shirts, and printing out Disney coloring pages and activity sheets and bingo.

I was so inspired looking at all the ideas that I made myself a Disney World pinboard and marched myself to the craft store to get started on my Mickey Mouse shaped countdown. And the calendar is cute, except we have actually only checked it off about three times. So each time we do it we have to mark out about ten spaces at a time, because I keep forgetting to MAKE A BIG DEAL out of it. The crafts and food and printables have all stayed safely on my pinboard and out of my actual life.


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Regardless of whether I have adequately built anticipation or not, next week we leave for Disney World. My husband, Jeff, and I are trying to keep our goals reasonable. Last night he told me, “I’m just hoping for less than one meltdown per ride.” I don’t need the perfect vacation. Instead, I am hoping for the good enough Disney World experience.

It is tempting to confuse “good enough” with mediocrity, but being good enough is what we all secretly long for, isn’t it? At the end of the day, we want to feel like we are a good enough mom or wife or employee or boss or daughter. And because we don’t feel good enough, we may put ourselves on a frenzied hamster wheel in a seemingly relentless pursuit of perfection.

If we always have a nagging feeling that we are not good enough, then we may be driven to make ourselves feel better by doing more. We try to convince ourselves we are good enough by our accomplishments or success or productivity. Or if people like us and are impressed with us, then maybe that will make us feel good enough. Or perhaps we try to numb out that pain of inadequacy with drinking or shopping or sex or relationships.

Perhaps we feel like we will never be good enough because we are actually trying to be perfect. As a woman made in God’s image and redeemed by Christ’s love, I know that I am not and never will be enough. But Christ in me is enough. Sometimes it feels like I am daily praying, “I believe; help my unbelief,” but even in belief Jesus stands in for me – having faith when I do not. Jesus makes me good enough.


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As a parent, being good enough is my constant goal. The psychoanalytic theory of the “good enough mother” was first introduced by D.W. Winicott, and here is the gist of it: kids don’t need a perfect mother who meets all their needs immediately and perfectly. Instead, kids need a good enough mother who does her best to love her kids well, but who meets needs imperfectly and makes mistakes. The child of a good enough mother must learn to delay gratification, tolerate distress, self-soothe and persist in asking for help when needed. Pretty important traits to possess as adults.

So as we prepare for Disney I am reminding myself that perfection is an illusion that can steal our joy and keep us from enjoying the beautiful, messy, imperfect moments of life right now. Just like life in our broken world, our Disney trip will not be perfect. There will be lengthy lines and suffocating heat, complaints and tears. Our kids will whine, and we will get irritable. And I am fully aware that we will all be utterly exhausted.

But I still can’t wait. Our Disney trip will not be perfect, but it will be magical. I get teary just thinking about the moment my daughter will get to meet Snow White or Cinderella for the first time.

My older boys have been preparing for Space Mountain for months. Since my husband has severe motion sickness and can’t ride roller coasters, for once I get to be the cool parent. And I might secretly be a little happy about that.

I know there will be moments of disappointment and frustration, but I don’t want to let those moments keep me from the magic. The pursuit of perfection is a fantasy, and a harmful one at that. Life is not perfect – far from it. But it is a gift from God filled with wonder and grace if we open our eyes to see and live and breathe the magic that is all around us. And that is good enough for me.

What about you? Where are you learning to rest in being good enough in your life?

Epilogue: I wrote this post the week before we went to Disney in June, so here is the story after the story. The night before Magic Kingdom my husband I were sitting in our condo and said to each other, “What on earth were we thinking? Four kids? A nursing baby? Peak season? Ninety degrees?” We didn’t have a good answer. But thankfully, my parents agreed that it would be fun to come with us so we wouldn’t be outnumbered! 

As expected, we had our fair share of tears, exhaustion and sweat (so much sweat). We had a bit of confusion regarding waiting in line (“Again! Again!” my daughter’s voice echoed throughout Fantasyland as we pulled her screaming little two-year-old self off of Dumbo). But woven throughout the chaos were faces lit up with the kind of unadulterated joy that belongs only to kids. Singing the Tigger song as we waited to meet the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood. My five year-old’s pride at conquering his fear of coasters on the Primeval Whirl. Walking into Cinderella’s castle and seeing my daughter’s awe-struck face. Riding the big coasters with my 8 year-old and then commiserating with him after we both got a little freaked out by Space Mountain.