Last weekend we took Squidge to a wedding for the very first time, although I’m sure it won’t be the last. The day was not without mishap (for me, not the happy couple) and so I’ve written this post about the highs and lows of taking a toddler to a wedding.
Before the Wedding –
Spend ages picking the perfect little outfit for your child only to realise the night before the wedding that you haven’t actually sorted anything for you to wear. Quickly flick through your wardrobe and make a decision based on what fits, either from your PB (pre baby) wardrobe or the maternity clothes that are still hanging up, despite the fact that your child is nearly two.
Get up at stupid o’clock the next morning so that you can at least shower and look halfway decent before your child wakes up. Debate about putting your dress on at the last minute so that your child doesn’t wipe anything down it before accepting that there will be at least three sticky stains on it before the end of the ceremony anyway. Accessorise your outfit with a bright orange rucksack filled to bursting with wipes, nappies, toys, emergency biscuits, dummies and the multitude of other paraphernalia that you always end up leaving the house with.
Discover a pair of contact lenses at the back of the bathroom cupboard just after you’ve finished putting your makeup on. Pop them in whilst furiously attempting not to blink for several minutes because you simply don’t have time to redo your makeup if the contact lenses make your eyes water.
Go to put on your trusty smart-yet-comfy shoes only to discover they’re still covered in mud from that funeral you attended six months ago. Momentarily reflect on how little you get out before making the ill advised decision to wear a pair of high heels because why the hell not.
The Ceremony –
Get to the ceremony with your dress rucked halfway up your back from carrying a toddler who has ‘forgotten’ how to walk. Greet multiple people while exposing the lacy tops of your tights before realising and then deciding you simply don’t care.
Find your allocated seats, sit your child in theirs and attempt to keep them entertained with snacks and toys, which lasts all of two minutes before they want to play with the pretty order of service and favours that the happy couple have made themselves. Reluctantly hand them over to prevent the inevitable tantrum, only to have your child start shrieking when they attach a decorated peg to their tongue.
Awkwardly shuffle past the people sat next to you and take your tear-stained offspring to see the balloons. Resign yourself to the fact that you’re not actually going to be able to sit down during most (any) of the ceremony and curse your earlier decision to wear heels.
Cringe slightly as your child shouts ‘Hiya!!’ at the top of his voice when each member of the wedding party walks into the room, followed by excited shrieks as he recognises the happy couple.
Try to prevent your child from running down the aisle after the wedding party only for them to run out of the room, giggling madly. Awkwardly hop for a couple of seconds while pulling off your heels before chasing after your child who thinks this is a wonderful game. End up following said child through a surprising number of corridors around the venue while they attempt to open all the doors and occasionally shout ‘Daddy!!’ to no one in particular while you pray that none of the doors open back into the room where the ceremony is taking place.
Whilst trying not to run after your child (in an effort to convince them you’re not playing chase), realise that they’re heading for the outer door which leads onto the main road. Sprint up the door and close it before your child makes a bid for freedom and hope that everyone else can’t hear the angry wails that your child seems to think are now proportionate reaction to you closing a door.
Follow your (now quiet) child back into the ceremony just as the couple begin to say their vows. Awkwardly crouch next to the front row of guests while your child stands in the aisle smiling sweetly at everyone and you realise that at some point you’ve laddered your expensive tights and there’s something sticky on your dress.
Try and persuade your child to sit on your knee for the last bit of the ceremony which proves to be a sensible idea when your have to put your hand over their mouth to stop them from drowning out the celebrant saying the all important ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife’ bit. Inwardly cringe when people turn to look at you with varying degrees of tolerance and get covered in dribble for your troubles, while your child thinks it’s all a wonderful game and you hope that your humiliated expression is a sufficient apology to everyone.
The Reception –
Carry your child (who is now refusing to walk again) to the reception feeling very embarrassed, completely frazzled and wondering if the bride and groom really knew what they were letting themselves in for when they insisted that they wanted your child to be at their wedding, even if he was noisy. Briefly wish that you’d ignored them and taken your child to stay with your parents before being stopped by half a dozen people wanting to tell you how sweet and well behaved your child is being.
Feel disproportionately grateful (and more than a little bit weepy) when a friend tells you that there should always be the voice of a happy child at a wedding. Resist the urge to hug her senseless, partly because you want to maintain some semblance of sanity but mostly because she’s seven months pregnant.
Watch your child toddling around the reception smiling at everyone, sitting nicely on Daddy’s lap to eat their lunch and happily going to various people to be cuddled while you drink several Pimms in quick succession and reconsider your earlier decision to refuse to take your child to any kind of formal event again until they’re at least eighteen.
Marvel at the fact that your friends think that looking after your child is a novelty while you think that being able to finish a drink without your child insisting that they want some too is a treat. Happily hand your child over to anyone who offers to take them for half an hour, remaining in sight in case you need to kiss the inevitable accidents better. Feel horribly guilty when your child is a bit sick on someone’s knee, despite them insisting that it really doesn’t matter and that it’s no problem to clean up.
Join in with the Ceilidh dancing, which serves only to demonstrate how unfit you are and how much more mobile your boobs have become since falling pregnant. Get to the end of a particularly exuberant dance and discover that your pelvic floor has given up and decide that you need to inform your other half of this fact, just so they’re completely aware of how much your body has suffered since the two of you got married. Due to your enthusiastic consumption of Pimms, several people standing near your husband now also know the ins and outs of your post-baby undercarriage.
Remain at the reception until your child finally looks tired enough to actually go to sleep, after refusing to nap all day and having been awake for ten hours straight. Carry your exhausted child to the hotel whilst telling him how well they’ve done, how proud you are of them and how much you love them. Inwardly groan when you get to the hotel and they seem to get a second wind, running around the room and waving at themselves in the mirror before conking out in under a minute when you put them to bed.
Sleep like the dead yourself before waking up with your first hangover in years and throw yourself at the mercy of your husband who lets you go back to sleep for a couple of hours while he entertains your child. Have very vivid dreams that are mostly based around Dora the Explorer, which is apparently what was on the hotel room TV while you were asleep and wake up to your child attempting to involve you in a two person rugby scrum, which does nothing for your headache.
Pack up the clothes and toys deposited all over the hotel floor in manner of explosion and load the car for the two and a half hour journey home whilst talking about how everything went far better than you expected but also hoping that you don’t have to do it all again for a couple of months at least.
Louise is a full time mum, a part time neonatal nurse and award nominated blogger who has battled depression for many years but was particularly ill during her pregnancy. She lives with her husband (the Northern One) their little boy (Squidge) and their three guinea pigs who live in the kitchen.
Louise blogs at 23weeksocks (http://23weeksocks.com) about lots of different (and seemingly unconnected) topics that she’s passionate about, including mental health, antenatal depression, neonatal care and baby loss. She’s also involved in #MatExp (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MatExp/); an online maternity experience campaign that was formed to help improve maternity services in the UK. As part of this she hosts the #MatExpHour Twitter chat every Friday and would love to see you there.