So I went to Atlanta to my dear friend's wedding. Went to the pre-wedding activities, went to the rehearsal dinner, (and with permission and urging of the bride and groom) brought the bambina to every event, where she was a total peach. She was even a peach on the flight down there, just sleeping and chatting and eating animal crackers.
Quelle surprise (or not, perhaps) that 90 minutes before the wedding, my lil peach had THE MOTHER OF ALL MELTDOWNS and completely lost it. Not just "threw a tantrum" or "cried a lot." Nope. Lost It Totally. I realized about 30 minutes into the meltdown that you can fly a baby to a wedding weekend but you cannot make her attend. And so I took off my dress, put on my jeans, and laid down next to her as she finally napped for two and a half hours--right through the wedding.
In the end, the bambina did manage to wake up and get happy and dressed up enough to attend the reception to see the bride and groom, but I was profoundly depressed at not seeing my friend marry the love of his life. Everyone was tremendously gracious and agreed that it was less offensive to miss the wedding than to bring a screaming baby, but I still felt sad that I had missed out on something so important to me.
As I drove the sleeping bambina home after the reception I realized that while I had missed something very important, I had also experienced something that should have been equally important to me. I had just had my first experience as a mother where, without thinking, I put my child's needs before my own. She needed to be alone, to just be held by her mama, to not have to meet any more new people, to just be a baby and nap for a couple of hours--and she got exactly what she needed. To be honest, before I had her, I always thought it would be more of a struggle to do that, but it wasn't. Which is not to say that I wasn't disappointed beyond words, but that I was surprised in hindsight about how easy it was to just say Uncle and put her need for comfort before my own need for socializing.
In the past, when I've been asked about when I'd have kids, I always joked that I would not do it till I was ready, and that I'd know I was ready when I would gladly relinquish the last slice of pizza to my child. I'm pretty territorial about my food, especially my pizza, so for me to not even flinch at the thought of giving The Last Slice to another person, was for me, a good indicator of when I'd be ready for children, on the theory that if you are too selfish to give your kid a slice of pizza that you would rather eat yourself, then you ought not to have a kid to deprive of pizza in the first place. On Saturday night I felt like I had truly crossed over into motherhood, because I gave my daughter something that I actually wanted for myself...and although I was bummed...I knew I had done the right thing.
Moral of this story? Be sure to order a topping your kid hates.