A few years ago I attended my niece's baptism. It was a double baptism, actually. My sister-in-law and her sister Amanda had their first babies within weeks of each other and decided to baptize them together.
After the ceremony we all congregated outside before heading to a large, joint celebration at a restaurant. Amanda looked over at me, coiffed and beautiful after posing for a milllion pictures in the church. She rolled her eyes and laughed while balancing her son over one shoulder and a diaper bag over the other and said with slight exhaustion "This is just like a wedding, except you're trying to do it all with a kid on your hip."
I blurted out a half-stiffled laugh. "Oh, you mean... people can DO that? That's a real thing that happens?" She furrowed her brows a bit at me. "I mean... sorry," I giggled, clearly the only one laughing at my private joke. "I never had the luxury of getting married without a kid... either time."
Awkward pause occurred right about here.
I was married twice - the first time with a three month old and the second with a significantly cognitively limited, 8 year old on the Autistic Spectrum. Well, technically the first time I was married it was in a court house seven months pregnant in a five minute ceremony conducted by a Justice of the Peace. So, I guess I was technically freed up for that one. The big ceremony with a wedding dress, proper vows, rings, first dance, cake and reception occurred three months after CB was born which is what I "count" as my wedding because the whole City Hall quickie wedding thing was sorta depressing for me.
Anyway, I've never planned, shopped, primped and preened for a wedding while not simultaneously being on mommy-duty. There was always the stress of taking care of a child on top of the stress of almost single-handledly planning a wedding (I have seen the latter alone render near nervous break-downs in some young women). At my first wedding, CB being so little so it was easy to find lots of people to hold her and help me. It was much more stressful at my second wedding. CB was older and more wild and unpredictable. There were medications to give, diapers to change, and a non-verbal, easily frustrated child with fluctuating moods with whom to contend. I actually considered not having CB attend and participate in my wedding at all. It would have been easy - VERY easy to let her go spend the weekend with her biological dad. Certainly everyone would understand. It was almost too much. I wasn't sure I could manage it all.
Yet, I just couldn't picture my happiest day without her by my side. We had been through so much together. We were becoming a new family. She needed to be there, so she was.
She was with me in the hotel room, along with my bridal party, as I readied myself in the hotel. Then she rode over in the car with me. I remember I was in the passanger seat, she in the back. I turned around as we sat out front waiting to exit the car and line up outside the church door right before I would go in and get married. I turned to her and pleaded "Please, just make it down the aisle. Just walk down the aisle. That's all I want you to do. That's all. Just please, please, please do that for Mommy." She hummed and stimmed and stared into a void.
I guess on some level she knew what I was begging for, and she gave me the only gift I asked of her that day. She walked down that aisle, escorted by my sister. That is about all CB was capable of that day and I know in my heart she did it for me.
Though I was still hiding outside and couldn't see this big moment, I heard there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Sometimes I think that Baby Girl doesn't understand a word I say. But then, I remember our language goes beyond words. It always has, by necessity. It always will.