Where to Next?
When you live in the empty nest, travel is involved if you want to spend time with your offspring. Sometimes my husband and I travel to see one or both of our children. At other times, they come to us. Last weekend we experienced one of each. It was a kind of divide and conquer, if you will.
My husband and son had their annual sports extravaganza event last weekend. Neither one of them have the love language of gifts so a few years ago, my son started gifting his dad with tickets to a hockey game for his Christmas present. My husband would travel to Nashville where they would go to one or two hockey games, a couple of college basketball games and maybe even a baseball game if the weather wasn’t too bad. I did not participate in this event — too much sports for me! I would either stay at home or visit a friend.
They changed it up this year. The two of them met in St. Louis to attend the Nashville Predators-St. Louis Blues hockey game. They had a great time in spite of a winter storm that came through plunging temperatures into the twenties and below. Both of their flights home were delayed by an ice storm. Yikes!
Meanwhile, down in sunny Florida, I had a fun weekend with my daughter. She had two days of a three-day pass to Walt Disney World to use up. With her husband heading to a rock-climbing competition, we decided it would be a great weekend for her to head south. A win-win for everyone. The best part for me was that I wouldn’t have to spend the weekend alone.
Growing Up Disney
I was born and raised in central Florida in a town about forty miles southwest of Orlando. Walt Disney World opened when I was in the sixth grade. As you can imagine, I have visited the Magic Kingdom a lot. I went with my family, my church youth group and even marched with my high school band in some parades. It was part of my growing up.
Fast forward to being married with children. We took our son to Disney for the first time when he was three years old. Our daughter’s first trip, when she was one. My mom and I bought season passes for ourselves and my children several years in a row. We lived close enough that we could take them over for three or four hours and be home in time for naps. We have so many fond memories of times in the parks.
It always took my daughter a while to warm up to a new ride. My son and I loved Rockin Roller Coaster at MGM Studios. We tried to convince Katelyn to go on the ride, that it was really a lot of fun but she always backed out. I remember when she finally gave in and agreed to go on the ride. We strapped ourselves in and waited for the ride to start. For a second or two, I thought she was going to hyperventilate and have to exit the ride. But, we didn’t and she loved it. As the ride ended, I looked over to my side and all I could see were her cheekbones, she was smiling so big.
Disney With My Daughter
There were a couple of moments like that this past weekend. The difference is it was me, not my daughter, trying not to freak out before a ride. We went on all the fast rides. I was a little hesitant about a couple of rides but my desire to have fun with my daughter was stronger than my apprehension of the ride. Don’t we do that often as parents? Push through what is scary for the sake of our children? One of the rides I was most nervous about was a new one at Animal Kingdom — Avatar Flight of Passage. How can you not be nervous to be riding on the back of a banshee, with warnings for those afraid of heights and motion sickness. But, that ride ended up being my favorite. You had the sensation of flying through a dream. I would have missed an amazing experience had I let my fears take over.
My favorite thing about the weekend was the laughter. We laughed on the wild rides stretching our limits. We laughed while spinning the Tea Cups ridiculously fast. We laughed at the silly shows.
I noticed something a little different this time when I had to drop my daughter off at the airport. Oh, I cried just a little. But, the sadness didn’t last quite as long. Mostly, I smiled at the memory of a very special weekend together.
If you have been an empty nester for a while, do you find that the goodbyes get a little easier?