I don’t actually remember the first wedding I attended, but I’ve heard the story so many times I feel like I do. It was my uncle’s wedding and I was just a baby. My older sister served as the flower girl, but was refusing to walk down the aisle. That is, until the priest offered her a nickel for going through with it. She was triumphant in her payment and happily made it to the altar. However, my mom and I missed her big moment. Right before the ceremony my diaper exploded all over me and my mom’s silk dress. We dashed back to the hotel to clean up, but cleaning baby poop is no easy task, so we ended up missing the entire wedding. My mom and I laugh about this now—she wonders aloud why in the world she didn’t bring a back up outfit, and I offer my apologies for not keeping it in my diaper.
I find myself thinking of this story often nowadays. I think of how embarrassed my mom must have been—my dad was also in the wedding so he couldn’t give her a ride to the hotel, so my mom had to appeal to fellow wedding guests she did not know very well to give her a ride, all while covered in poop. I also think of how sad she must have felt—her first-born daughter and husband were dressed to the nines and walking down the aisle, and she missed it. She missed the pictures, she missed the party, she missed the cake. While everyone else was raising a glass to toast the happy couple, my mom was alone in a hotel room trying to rinse off her (probably ruined) dress all while her new baby cried in the crib.
Yes, I’m thinking of this story a lot recently, because thirty years later I am not the baby anymore. Thirty years later I am now the mother. Today I am the one dealing with exploding diapers and stained clothes. And today I am missing a wedding.
One of the groomsmen from our wedding three years ago is getting married, and it is going to be a wonderful and happy occasion. Just as he stood by my husband on our wedding day, my husband will stand by him. I am sure they will both look incredibly handsome in their tuxes. The bride and groom are huge music buffs, so I am sure the dance floor will be filled. Had I been able to attend, I would have chosen the salmon for my meal, and I am sure it will be delicious. But this wedding is a formal affair so no children are allowed, and my parents couldn’t watch the baby, so here I sit at home (and as my mom’s story proves, bringing a baby to a wedding is not a guaranteed good time either). As I look at my son right now napping in his favorite swing, I feel the love only I, his mother, can feel for him. Yet I also feel that disappointment I am now sure my mom felt all those years ago in that hotel room. Because while I am a mother now, I am also still a thirty-year-old woman who loves a good party. But today I can’t be both, so I have to be a mother.
Not being able to attend this wedding has forced me to really come to terms with my new life and my new role. Sitting here in my sweats on a Saturday night is like the final confirmation from God that, yes, things will be a little different now. I know I will go to a wedding again and go out with my friends again. My life is by no means “over,” but my life is forever changed.
As I feel that sadness creep in, I remind myself to think of all the other stories my mom has told me over the years. Like how I would dance around the house in my diaper making my family laugh, or how I helped my dad build the fence in our backyard by carefully holding the level for him. To this day my mom still gets choked up when she tells others how proud she was of me when I received my “Most Inspirational Drama Student” award my senior year of high school (I act embarrassed when she tells this story, but deep down I appreciate that she actually cares that much about that silly little trophy). These were all moments that she didn’t miss. These were all moments she got to experience not in spite of me, but because of me. And not to brag or anything, but when she recalls all of these stories, she seems very happy. Like that whole motherhood thing was pretty great after all.
It is true that sometimes moms miss out on parties or dinners or vacations, and I am here to admit that it is disappointing. I realize now there may be stories that I won’t get to tell from now on—stories of closing down the bar, last minute flights to Vegas, lazy days of tanning on the beach. But there will be other stories too, I’m sure. Like how when this little boy of mine starts to cry, all I have to do is turn on Billy Joel to make him smile. Or how when he was born the nurse dubbed him “String Bean” upon seeing his long legs. And many, many other stories that I don’t even know yet. Those are the stories I will cherish, because while I will always be a woman who loves to dance at weddings, I will now also always be a mother.