My brother’s wedding was a beautiful affair. It was held in a historic park, and the reception dinner décor was breathtaking as you walked toward the opened barn doors revealing the floral centerpieces. The feeling of romance pulled me in instantly. It was at that moment, at the edge of the parking lot, where I felt that old familiar urge to run. Because in my arms was a 1-year-old who missed his afternoon nap, and at my side was a boy of four already refusing to leave the parking lot because it contained gravel and he wanted to throw it. I was dressed up for once, which felt nice, but I was anxious, nervous, and preparing for the worst.
And I was right. But as usual, I was also surprised, proud, and pleasantly amused by the result of a fancy night out with my boys. My thought that children and weddings may not be the best combination was changed by the end of the night as I walked out into the darkness still holding the one-year-old in my arms, with the boy of four, dirt faced and shirtless, following behind.
1. Because love is patient and kind, so keep it that way for a while.
Everyone who has been married has a unique experience on his or her special day. Although there are many traditions practiced time and time again, each one is done a little differently. During my brother’s wedding, they recited vows to one another that were very different from the norm and unique to them. It was a special moment. It took place outside on a gorgeous afternoon. It was completely perfect until I pulled the ultimate rookie mistake and reminded my son not to make any noise. He started talking at the top of his lungs immediately. I guess he decided that everyone remaining quiet was doing so because they were very interested in hearing what he had to say, particularly regarding what the “Angry Bird” music sounds like. My husband just grabbed him up and started walking. Between vows you could hear the cries and pleas of my son getting smaller and smaller in the distance begging, “Please, I am following the rules. I am a great listener. Put me down.”
I did what any mother would do. I turned and gave a nasty look in their direction and rolled my eyes along with the people who turned around to see the rude little boy. I pretended I didn’t know who the boy was and blended in with the crowd, secretly thinking in my head, “This is the best wedding present I could have brought.” Children truly are the gold at the end of the rainbow; you just may want to delay the rain dance for a while. A reminder to the happy couple that although kids are funny, they are also troublesome. And they should enjoy the moments they have without them before they are sharing their bed with a puking toddler and becoming experts at grabbing the chicken nugget mid-air in the restaurant before it smacks a guy in the face at the table behind them.
2. Because there’s no better day to begin practicing the art of dancing in the rain.
Weddings can be very expensive. The venue, the flowers, the band, and the list goes on and on. And adding children to the guest list can be a huge gamble, particularly because most are programmed to seek and destroy. My anxiety slowly eased after the ceremony once the mingling commenced.
But before I was able to make it to the bar for a drink, I watched in horror as I looked over to see my son holding onto the cigarette depot. To him, it looked like a tall tower and he swung around it like a maypole before I could get there and then I’m on the ground putting cigarette butts back into the container. But eventually the kids started running around and playing with each other. Everyone looked at them with smiles. Watching them all play and dance was mesmerizing, especially after a few vodka and cranberries.
Then, as I’m chatting it up with a family member, I look over to see my son chatting it up with the bar tender. I got closer, observing more than anything, to hear him saying, “I want two more of the soda called Diet Coke.” The bartender is laughing. I said, “Slow down there buddy, you may have to drive home.” After the bartender told me this was his third soda, we decided he should be given the rare pleasure of drinking a club soda. The boy was psyched. Needless to say, he never asked for another soda, but continued to provide amazing entertainment to the guests. The more I realized the pure hilarity of my son’s actions, the less I was less concerned about him ruining the event, and more with watching him work his magic.
3. Because marriage will never make you wealthy until you have something you can’t buy.
Even though we say it won’t happen to us, we inevitably lose touch with certain people after having children. As much as I didn’t intend for it to happen, I have become disconnected. As I watched people from my past interact with my kids, I just felt really good.
Weddings are a beautiful opportunity to connect and confront your past. It is a chance to dance and marvel at how much you love your family (who you now are convinced are complete lunatics). You hear stories about your past that you’ve never heard, and yes, after all this time I still have people tell me they can’t believe I have two kids because they remember when I was just a baby.
My son does not sit down easily, but once the cake was brought out he sat for at least 3 minutes and ate it. I can’t tell you how many people said to me, “Wow, he does sit,” or “You better take this opportunity while you can.” In a short time, people got my son. Even though I was concerned about what people would think, most commended him on his spirit. They wished they had his energy and tenacity. It was nice to hear, even if behind my back they said, “Damn, that girl is in for it with that one.” Regardless, it was nice to see people and introduce them to my boys, my proud contribution to the dysfunctional (yet functional) family started generations before me.
After the wedding was over, I caught myself reflecting on the night. The night I began by telling my husband he was going to have to take our son back to the cabin we were staying at because his behavior was too out of control. As usual, I was letting my anxiety get the best of me and I wasn’t giving my boy a fair chance.
I also thought about my wedding almost 8 years ago. I did not allow children to come. I was younger, didn’t know many people close to me with children, and I was afraid that if children came, their parents would want to leave early. Now, think I was wrong. Having the kids there made it perfect. After all, marriage and children are very similar. You have no idea what you are getting yourself into in the beginning, but the result is quite beautiful.
So, my advice? Include children at your wedding… also include a full bar.