There were many great things about our trip to St. Louis by car, and many not-so-great things. First of all, we got in at 4am, and the bride and groom-to-be weren’t thrilled about such early guests. My daughter slept fine, but in the morning she couldn’t do much in the house with all its glass knick knacks and shiny wood floor (brand new) and no fenced yard. The bride was stressed with preparations so I knew we had to get out of there (and get our own hotel room) fast!
Second of all, an active toddler and a wedding are not a super great combination. It was probably the most stressful 2 hours of parenting I’ve had so far, added to the rehearsal. She wanted desperately to climb the steps at the front of the church, pull on the cloth flowers, ransack shelves, and topple statues. I hate hate hate forcing her into situations where she is so set up for behavior failure, and can only be told “no” with every step she takes. Strangers look to me to “control” her, and that is only possible by removing her from the situation, or restraining her (which causes fits). She is large for her age, very mobile, and people expect her to act more like a two-year-old who understands direction and is developing a knowledge of consequences, as well as possessing a maturing impulse control center in their brain. But she is not even a year and a half, she is only a baby who doesn’t understand why she is not allowed to explore her world.
But alas, a wedding is a wedding and we had to do our best. I located a nursery full of toys, with a door that closed, and this was our saving grace. Prior to the start of the wedding we stayed in there, and then we used a “cry room” with a closing door until the very moment she made her flower girl appearance. I let her out and she bolted down the aisle, at the end of which she was corralled into a pew with a waiting bottle. This worked out for a time, but long musical acts, scripture readings, and sermons ensued. She played with pencils, paper, puzzles, and a glow stick, and did amazingly well. But I was sweating it out, doing everything I could to distract her. When I got up to do my speaking role, she ran around a bit and distracted the audience, but oh well. Afterwards we had to make a quick exit back to the cry room. She had just had enough.
The reception took a long time to get started, so we played, tried to pose for family photos with the bride and groom (fail, she only wanted to run into the street), ran around, and then I finally put her in a high chair and fed her. She was so tired at this point, so frustrated at being restrained and dragged around, that I knew we wouldn’t be staying long.
Afterward we were both so exhausted that we hit the beds of the hotel room like it was 2am. It felt amazing to sleep and not worry that my toddler was irritating anyone or going where she shouldn’t or ripping up flowers, programs, or whatever. I couldn’t wait to take her somewhere where she could be herself! Getting our own hotel room was the greatest thing, she is free to run around and push buttons and spill things in there. We could both relax. Everyone told me it was a terrible idea to get a hotel room 30 mins away from where the wedding was, but it was only 5 minutes from Forest Park and the zoo, places we could go to have fun after breakfast and in the evening before bed. Staying with our relatives (and their non-childproofed house) was not an option for us, and they were busy with wedding plans and preparations, leaving us open to explore child-friendly activities.