When You Bring Your Baby to a Wedding…
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This mama needs to let go. I need to let go of quite a lot. Control, schedules, and perfection are just a few of the many examples. I firmly believe that the Lord reveals the status of our heart through change and challenges. Before becoming a mom to Hudson, I had no idea how deep and enslaving my sins of approval and control were. Before, I thought of myself as a relatively relaxed, easy-going type of person, but as a new mom, I have been nothing but anxious, controlling and paranoid. I used to care less about schedules and if plans changed, I could easily bounce back, but now when Hudson does not follow the schedule I have in my head, the wheels slowly start to fall off. Control is just one part of the mess, the other ruling force is my deep need of human approval. This I have always known has been festering in my heart, but motherhood just brought it out in even greater force. I never thought I could care so much about how a complete stranger views me as a mother. It is insanity. All of this was made especially clear this weekend when Lance and I took Hudson to his first wedding. Let me explain.
It started with a long run and the rain. The wedding was in Palm Springs and Lance and I knew we would have Hudson, so we thought it would make more sense to skip a hotel and just drive home so he could sleep in his own crib. The plan was to first get our long run done and then drive to Palm Springs and head home around 7 pm just un time for Hudson’s bedtime. Saturday morning came and it was raining. Instead of running with the jogger, we dropped Hudson off at his Grammy’s and we went to get our miles in. In theory, this was a great idea and it was nice to squeeze in a run before the madness, but this probably did not help my mood and patience later in the day. So tip #1 when bringing a baby to a wedding: skip the long, strenuous exercise beforehand. It is best to not go into the day with baby already in a place of depletion and dehydration. This was the first mistake. Then, came the drive. If you are bringing your baby with you to a wedding, hopefully you don’t have too long of a drive. For us, we had about 2 hours. Heading into this drive, I had the perfect plan. He had a really short nap during our run so I figured by the time we were driving, he would be tired and ready for a nice, long nap. In my head, the whole day rested on this part of the plan. Hudson would sleep basically the entire drive, I would nurse him when we got there, he would be the most perfect baby during the ceremony because he would be rested and full, and then he would continue this perfect behavior into the reception. I had the perfect plan. And the fact of the matter is that most of it did not happen. And that would have been perfectly okay, but my own attitude and need for control, did not allow for flexibility or adaption, so by the drive home I was miserable, cranky and annoyed. That leads to tip #2: go into the event unattached to your plans. There is nothing wrong with having a specific plan and schedule, but I would recommend creating a few options because the likelihood that the first one will happen with all the excitement of a big event is slim. Since I was so set on the fact that he would sleep the entire drive there, I did not plan for an alternative. I did not pack his favorite Mickey Mouse CD that almost always calms and soothes him. Therefore, about an hour in, we had a screaming baby in the back of our car. This is what started my own internal meltdown. I ever so slowly began to crumble apart as I felt my carefully thought out plan slipping away from my fingers. I was losing control. So by the time we got to the church, Hudson was already exhausted since he only slept for about 30 minutes and had been awake and crying since 12pm, which was already about 2 hours ago. I tried to be super flexible and told myself it is what it is, but when I went to nurse him and he refused, I lost it. I could handle him not napping, but him also refusing to nurse threw me into panic mode. This was all minutes before the ceremony began. I wish I could tell you, I just let it all go and fully was present and enjoyed the ceremony, but then I became obsessed with every little peep Hudson made. I basically convinced myself that everyone within the church, including the priest, thought I was a terrible mom. I know this sounds crazy typed up, but this was all very real in my head. Hudson did not even cry during the whole ceremony, but all his cute, little cooing noises sounded like loud sirens in that quiet and formal church. This is where we can find tip #3. While tip #2 was all about letting go of plans, tip #3 is to have a plan. While I had planned out the napping and sleep schedules and the pajamas were packed, Lance and I never voiced a plan for the ceremony if Hudson did not fully sit silent (which I don’t think many babies can do for a straight hour). A lot of my issues of control and approval are linked to Lance. I am so used to solely taking care of Hudson during the day that when my overly eager and helpful and amazing husband steps in, I don’t always handle it gracefully. Lance could sense I was not in the best place after the plans in my head were slowly starting to crumble so he kept taking Hudson during the ceremony to relieve me. I should of been thankful. I should have been relieved. But instead this created even greater anxiety within me as I felt control further taken away from me. I looked over at the other mom with the baby and she seemed to be cool as a cucumber and handling everything so well on her own. I, on the other hand, was a sweaty and anxious mess. I was on the edge of my seat. I was so panicky that Lance was taking more of the responsibilities that I as Hudson’s mother should be taking. While Lance taking Hudson and bringing him out of the church should have been helpful, it only created more anxiety and frustration within me. So the point here is that if you are going to be with your spouse, it is important to talk about a plan before the ceremony. Decide how you are going to share responsibility. Create a game plan. This would have saved a lot of unneeded emotion.
While there were a few little bumps in the road, we survived the ceremony and even though my head told me otherwise, Hudson overall did so well. After the ceremony, there was an hour of time before the cocktail hour. Right when we put Hudson in his carseat, he immediately fell asleep. He was exhausted. This was the one, unplanned part of the whole day and it was actually the one part that worked out perfectly. Hudson ended up taking a good nap and Lance and I were able to do one of our favorite things: drive around, look at houses and dream about our future. As we did this, all the nerves and anxiety finally began to leave me. Things were good. We even got the chance to stop at a park we spent time at a few months ago when on vacation. The park was perfect and peaceful. There were a few dogs running about. The light giggles of children on the playground floated around us. Hudson woke up right when we got to the park. We got to stretch our legs, walk around, and Hudson finally was ready for milky. The lesson here is that when you go to a wedding with a baby, you need to be okay with having a slight detour from the rest of the party guests. I am assuming most of the guests went right to the hotel where the reception was being held. For us, that was not what made the most sense. For us, what the three of us needed most was nap time, a quiet drive, and the park. And that is okay. We eventually got to the hotel, slightly later, but we got there with happier parents and a happy, full, and rested baby. So tip #4 when you bring your baby to a wedding is don’t compare. The experience you have at a wedding with a baby is very different than without one. Know this ahead of time and be okay with spending your time differently. Be okay with taking your baby to the park in-between ceremony and reception. Be okay with leaving right after dinner and speeches because it is bedtime. Be okay with drinking Shirley Temples instead of wine because of nursing. Be okay with having a colder dinner because you have a baby on your lap that needs entertaining. Be okay with lugging around your big diaper bag and not your cute, Kate Spade purse. The truth is, we had a great time and I am pretty sure Hudson did too. He was taking everything in. But, it was a very different time than if we did not have a baby. So, when deciding if you should take your little one to a wedding, you need to decide what type of experience you are looking for. Do you want to not worry and just enjoy your time? Well, then I would probably not bring your baby. But, if you are willing to have a different type of wedding experience and embrace the fact that this is just how life with a baby is, then you should (if it is okay with the bride and groom, of course!). Our life is so very different now than a year ago. We are more tired. Toys are strewn all over our living room floor. Our schedules revolve around naps and feeding times. But, our hearts have never been more full. This is our life. It is messy and hard at times and chaotic and not nearly as controlled as I would like it, but it is ours and it is beautiful and I am so thankful. Sometimes you get the opportunity to press pause and go to a wedding and forget for a few hours all the new responsibilities you have, but sometimes you don’t get that opportunity. Sometimes you have to bring your new life into these situations and simply adjust.
Let me end with this: bringing a baby to a wedding, is not the most glamourous. It is not always the most fun. But, I am pretty sure I am going to remember it in ways that I would not remember it if Hudson was not with us. That curious little boy with his vest and red bow tie will forever be engraved in my heart. I will always remember watching the groom dance with his glowing mother as I held on to Hudson and dreamed about one day dancing with him on his wedding day. I will always have that photo booth picture with our other friends at our table and our silly, goofy, wide-eyed boy by our side. So the truth is, when you bring your baby to wedding…you fall just a bit more in love.