The Compromise

On Friday, I let everyone in on the stressful situation that is going on in my life right now. And there was this huge flood of amazing support and words of advice and encouragement. Thank you to the Grumpies, by the way, for steering so much of it this way. You two are my Cheerleaders but totally awesome feminist ones.

I have been reading, and responding, to your comments all weekend. You are a very wise bunch. And what I decided was to compromise.

This trip does mean a lot to me. It’s not as simple as Take Kids to Theme Park. It’s more layered than that. And one of the things it means to me is keeping promises. I hate broken promises, I really do. Probably because I’ve been the victim of so many in my own life.

So I thought about it and vented on Stallion in a big, big, big way. I pretty much threw my tantrum with the tears and the boogers and the, “It’s not fair!” Very classy. And after he hugged me and told me it’ll be ok I calmed down and made a decision.

We are not going to Disney, but we are going to Universal. The tickets for Universal are free, they are for both parks, and their confirmation number was sent to me last week. They are there waiting for me. And it is scheduled for the 12th of August, Eldest’s birthday. As I had mentioned, the kids received money for the trip, and my grandmother and mother have told me they will be giving me Eldest’s trip money as well. With that money, I have the cost of the hotel covered, the gas, and I think even the food. The only big ticket item that is not yet covered is the one ticket for Stallion’s daughter which is her birthday present as well. Her mother is giving her money for food so that should be perfect.

As for Disney, it is not cancelled, but it is postponed. I am going to work my little tookus off and see if I can manage to put together enough to fund a trip to Disney in December when it’s all decorated for Christmas. We’ve never seen the park that time of year, the weather will be nicer, and the two littlest ones will get their birthday wishes filled then. That will be the new goal– survive and Disney in December.

Like I told Stallion, the reason this has been so hard for me to let go of is because how long I’ve been working at it– and how close I was. I have been diligently saving and saving and saving. Over half the child support payments have been going to saving up for things like the school’s $2700 registration fee (private school, my parents pay the tuition if I pay the registration) which I paid in full at the beginning of the year. When my tax refund came in, I did the math and put a portion of it into my emergency fund, a portion into my big ticket savings like the summer camp, the trip, and Christmas, and sent a huge chunk to my credit cards. You know, the responsible thing.

And it was working!

When my car broke down in March I had enough money to pay for the repair. When school let out, I had the $3000 to put them in summer camp. When I woke up one morning to find my cat had been vomiting everywhere and had a fever, I had the $450 to cover the vet bill. I think I might rename my cat and call her Disney.

The big thing now is what I am going to tell the children. My kids are pretty young. The youngest just turned 4 and 6 in June and the oldest turns 9 this Sunday. Money is really hard to explain to the youngest ones and unfortunately, they are the ones who wanted Disney. Eldest is the one who wanted Universal as he is obsessed with Harry Potter.

I’m thinking of going about it this way.

First things first: Be (vaguely) Honest. I’m going to explain that I had to make changes to the trip this weekend and that one of the parks is going to be postponed. I’m going to explain I am not making as much money every month as I used to. I might use coins to explain this. Show them four coins and explain that’s how much I was making, take away two coins and explain that’s how much I’m making now. I am extremely wary resistant to the idea of explaining their father’s role, or lack thereof, in all of this because of how young they are, how sensitive a topic it is, and how complicated it may get to explain. Eldest can probably handle it and maybe he and I will have a separate conversation later, if he wants one. I think I’m just going to explain that there were two ways I was making money and because the economy is bad, one of them isn’t making money right now. It might start making money again one day, but I’m not sure when, etc. etc. etc.

I am then going to explain we are going to Universal Studios only because the tickets were free. I did not choose which park we went to. I asked around my group of friends and the connection that came through was for Universal. I want this to be clear because I don’t want them to think I was choosing favorites or anything and besides it’s completely true. If the tickets to Universal weren’t free, we wouldn’t be going anywhere.

I’ll then lay out my plan to try and make more money so that we can go in December to Disney to see the park at Christmas time. And then I’ll ask them to please look at the Universal website with me and try and get them fired up about what we’re going to do and see there.

The bad part is, it’s the youngest kids’ trip whose getting postponed. The good part is, they are distracted easier.

I feel a lot better about this weekend now that I’ve made this decision. One of the things that struck me after reading your comments and throwing my tantrum was the reason I’m so frustrated and angry about postponing part of the trip is exactly the reason I need to postpone part of the trip.

I have been doing things the right way for so long, why blow it? If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that it’s far easier to create problems than to fix them. The right way worked. It did what it was supposed to do– I just hadn’t been able to fund it long enough to cover me more than it already has.

The wrong way, I’ve already done that before. I know where that goes and what it does to a person. So thank you for helping me get to this place I am in right now. I’m not going to lie, I’m still a bit down at the mouth and I would really like to practice some sort of physical violence, but I am trying very hard to pull up and out and I just wanted to thank you all for the boost.


23 thoughts on “The Compromise

  1. That is so great! And a wonderful lesson to be teaching your kids– I love the idea of postponing and saving up for Disney. Being able to delay gratification is such an important life skill that pays huge dividends down the road. And… saving up for something fun can be kind of fun, especially when you’re doing it as a team.

  2. These are such tricky situations, and it sounds like you have a very workable (and thoughtful) approach. They’re still getting their trip, only a little bit later than planned. And as NicoleandMaggie have said, there are more wonderful lessons here for them.

    May I say this. I envy you the ability to take a vacation – any sort of vacation – with your children. From the moment my ex left, though I constantly told myself things would get better (and did everything in my power to dig us out of the deepening hole), I have never been able to take my children on a vacation. And of course, it’s now too late – not that I could do so now either. But from the ages of 7 and 8 on, those days were done, thanks to a nasty divorce, constant issues over monies due, huge legal debt, and ongoing skirmishes behind the scenes that always, always, always had money and control as the bottom line.

    No adult should have to live that way. Many of us do.

    No child should be the pawn caught in the crossfire. So many are.

    I have no photos, no memories, no sense of having “vacationed” or explored with my boys. They’re now 19 and 20 and they’re doing plenty of exploring on their own, but it doesn’t fill the void of what should have been, my sense of failure of what I couldn’t overcome, and the loss of experiences we could have shared. And nor have the financial skirmishes ended, though they are fewer.

    That said – they’re healthy and grounded and hard-working. For every difficulty there is a lesson, and some of those lessons serve our children very, very well.

    I wish you all a great time anticipating December Disney.

      • Second that. Everyone’s resources and interests are different, but among my favorite recent vacations are two camping trips, one with my adult stepdaughter and her partner, another with my own mother and my son (so, both cheap, both involving adult parents of adult kids). @BigLittleWolf — not, obviously, that they’ll replace what you are missing from when they were littler, but all the same, I hope the future holds similar opportunities and joys for you with your sons.

  3. I am glad you were able to come to a compromise that you can live with. Being a grown-up sucks sometimes. But it is a necessary evil. And the kids….they will be ok. I think we sometimes take this stuff harder than they do.

    I would not tell them about Disney in December. If for some reason it doesn’t happen, you will feel that much worse. You can say, “we will go to Disney another time.” And then work to get it for December. It will still be a great trip…even if it is in February!

    Stay strong my friend!

  4. This all sounds sensible to me and I’m glad you have found a plan you feel at peace with implementing.

    In thinking about talking to the kids, the approach I think I’d take with mine would simply be to say that it’s been necessary to shorten the trip (possibly bringing in the “for money reasons,” possibly not, and if so leaning toward the 2 jobs now 1 job thing and also touching on the “we need to be sure we have enough money to pay for the essentials (of which this is not part)” angle just so they’re clear that the smaller trip doesn’t mean basic needs won’t be met) and that the part it’s possible to do now is … , and that you know you’ve all enjoyed Disney in the past (it sounds like this is the case?) and hope to be able to take another trip there soon, but it won’t be possible this time and then field questions. Because in my experience they don’t always have the same take-away, or concern, about changes in plans (etc.) that we do, or expect them to, and — no need to touch on issues they aren’t even interested in or concerned about. But that’s just my quick thought, not knowing your kids or having experience with how they react to things. I hope they adapt to the change in plans as smoothly as manageable … and of course that you all enjoy the trip.

  5. Yeah for you! The young ones will have a great time. Focus on what you have/can do, not what you don’t have/can’t do. Life happens. Your kids are soooo fortunate to have you as their mother.

  6. I second Mysti’s thought about going to Disney another time. When my kids were younger they never really knew what my plans were that way if they changed last minute there was minimal disappointment, The only thing they knew is that we were going on an adventure. And that meant we were leaving the house to go somewhere and that was part of the fun. In fact the first time we went to Disney they had no idea we were even leaving the country until we showed up at the airport.
    Kids are very forgiving and you will have a great time at Universal.
    P.S. Don’t bother to mention their father’s new lack of financial contributions. They won’t understand. When they are older they will realize just what kind of man he is all on their own.
    The right way is the hard way which is to take the high road. And sometimes that sucks royally. 😦

    • Yeah I wouldn’t feel right mentioning their father at all in this. Like you said, it’s just not appropriate. I really like the idea of leaving Disney open-ended for them. And that is so great you surprised your own kids that way. That’s great!

  7. The Dr. Seussland at Islands of Adventure is fantastic! The Princess loved it even though she was already 11 last time we went! There are a LOT of fun things at the Universal and once they get over the initial disappointment of not having Disney, they will LOVE it!

    • Yes! I was looking at it and it looks great. And they’ve seen the Harry Potter movies so they’ll appreciate that part of the park. I know they’re going to love it really. And I bet they’ll get over it a lot faster than not.

  8. Sounds like you’ve come up with a great plan and way to balance everything out. Disneyworld will be there in December or next summer or whenever you manage to go!

  9. I would not mention the other trip, just that you had to postpone it and the need to have all the funds in place. Then, when it all comes to be, you have the money or sure, tell them about it. Just say you have a change in plans and “we will see, have an adventure.” The little ones will not mind if they have something to look forward to. Take them for ice cream or something special so they can smile over cones or whatever the smile about. Don’t be shocked if they already know their father is not paying what he should. AND, if they ask, don’t lie to keep up his image for them. They will know you lie.

    My mother never got to take us on a trip for the memories. My memories are of a wonderful mother who made fudge, new dresses, and loved us beyond anything we could have hoped for. As an adult, I don’t miss anything like memories of a fantastic vacation. I loved going out of state to visit my grandmother. That is a real memory.We went to the zoo every week most of the year for years. I relish that memory.

    As for the woman who regrets no vacation memories with her children, I bet they are not sad at all if your were taking care of their needs the best you could, making living fun,and encouraging them to make adventures when they were grown. .

    People are not “entitled” to fabulous vacations. My daughter took her child to Disney in Florida every year from age five to 12. I never could understand her drive to take him when he was two. crazY! It was all for her. He remembered nothing.

    I am glad you are coming to terms with your situation.

  10. I agree with not mentioning the next Disney trip. If you have to cancel that one, your credibility is totally ruined, maybe you can set up a piggy bank for all to see (represent dollars with coins) and tell them how that money will pay for the trip – when there is enough. This is a great example in patience, planning, budgeting and anticipation.
    As for the vacationing, I’ll say this: I never went anywhere with my parents unless it was camping where we had a trailer and my dad just went to drink. I married a man that came from a family that took vacations all the time and we have adopted that. I am blessed with both of us bring at home (I’m a writer, he is an international tech solutions guru) and we have been able to go on some amazing vacations and see the world. My kids have been to 14 different countries. I. Not bragging, I’m making a point here: they want adventure and togetherness more than anything. You can provide this with very little cost. Have you considered swapping houses? It’s all the rage now. Camping? Fort Wilderness in Disney is great. Sharing the expenses with another family? Having people give your kids Disney gift cards?
    I’ll also add this….IMHO, Disney is way more hype than one would suspect. I’ve been there a lot and every single time I see more kids whining and crying or sleeping than having fun. Why? Because parents have paid $80 a ticket and don’t want to waste a minute of it. They DEMAND the kids have fun and do it all. Try not to do that. I’d wait longer to take the kids as your are young and will be wiped out. The average person walks 6 miles in EPCOT alone. Strollers aren’t always useful or allowed. I have friends with 6 year old twins and I tried to discourage them from going with them now. They came back and said they should have waited. It’s too much. Also, be aware that Beast and Mickey and Buzz DO NOT TALK and are roughly 7 feet tall. They scare little ones! As an side, Christmas is nice there. You can go to each hotel and see their decorations for free. Skip the meet and greets with the characters at all costs if you can. It’s a time suck and not much fun for the kids. (see comment of size of Beast!) BUT WHATEVER YOU DO do NOT miss the Festival of the Lion King show. Amaaaaazzzinnnggg. !!! Illuminations & Fantasmic (is that the name? I forgot) are must see shows.
    Honestly, I’d wait a year or two. In the meantime, think of ways to “vacation” that are cheaper like camping in a national park, renting a beach house with another family, letting the timeshare people meet with you for an hour so you stay there for free for the weekend.
    Also, I dislike Universal. It’s older and in need of a facelift. It definitely caters to older kids (say 12 and up) with the layout, themes and rides. Busch Gardens may be a better choice if you are in the area.
    Again, I’m just sharing my experiences here. I’ve been to Disney 12 times and stayed for a few weeks at a time (after my mother passed it was nice to be someplace cheerier.) There’s lots of ways to go cheaper but I think yours are too young anyway. IMHO again.
    The best value for the money is a cruise. We were on the Oasis of the Sea the week before last and, once again, my kids loved it best of all. There’s a dedicated 28,000 sq foot kids area that is divided into age groups and manned by folks with degrees in early childhood education and the like, the programs run from 7am to 1am and are free, they do amazing stuff all day with these kids. Seriously consider it. The last time we went to Disney, we stayed at a resort that I had paid for and didn’t use from a few years back so I’m bot counting hotel fees but the four of us went (me, hubby, 16 & 11 year old boys) and it was $4,400. The last cruise? $2,900 with added costs like tips or pictures. It’s all free once you’re aboard. And my kids have always preferred cruising. Just stay away from Carnival – it caters to a more spring break crowd and has, with 2 exceptions, older ships without the awesome features that Royal Caribbean has.
    I’m sorry if I’m being negative but I wish someone had told me all this stuff way back when we were saving for the First Trip to Disney. All vacations are for bonding and having relaxed fun, right? There are lots of ways to do it but I agree with a piece of advice I was given when we had our first. Save for the rainy day but enjoy the sunshine. Vacations and fun are just as important as retirement savings!
    And one secret? Disney is even MORE fun without the kids! 😀

    • I love the idea of publicly tracking the Disney funds. That is a GREAT idea.

      We’ve gone to Disney with them a few times and it’s been pretty alright for us. What we do is stop in the middle of the day (when it’s hottest) and go to the hotel to rest a couple of hours. That does wonders for everyone. We also pause a lot and we do a lot of shows because we get to sit down in the a/c. The characters thing is so 50/50! The last time we went, my daughter had no issue with it. She LOVED the characters. The Baby wasn’t thrilled with them. But he kept running into them and eventually grew ok with them. I think by this age he’ll be fine with them. He’s the same age daughter was when we went last. Funny enough, my oldest is in the stage where he’s too old for characters! I know he’ll grow out of that but it’s going to be a while. The window on the characters seems to be a tiny one!!

      I love cruises. I’ve heard great things about the Disney ones too. That’s another great idea to add to the bucket list.

      And yes the theme parks are a total riot sans children 😀


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