28 Aug 2019
We were attending a family wedding down south with our sons who are nearly 3 and 18 months old. It’s the posher side of the family. Imagine the scene: pretty rural church, attractive marquee in the grounds, airy sponge cakes, flapping bunting – basically if Bake Off did weddings… and then the northerners arrive! I thought we’d remembered everything – travel cot, clip on high chair, milk cups, snack pots, sticker books, potty, beautiful linen wedding suits for the kids that a friend had handed down, parents' wedding attire … still hanging in the suit carrier in our bedroom in Liverpool! NO!!
Solution 1: My sister (also attending the wedding) has a spare outfit. It’s brown, slightly too large and her breast feeding outfit.
Solution 2: A quick scout of the nearest town has revealed that an Edinburgh Woollen Mill is our only possibility. Daddy is in the car negotiating with a traffic warden, while I dash and grab the best options - turquoise seersucker open-necked shirt and some chinos. The only sizes available are 28 short or 36 long – my husband is 30 regular. I go with 36 long and a belt – he can roll them up. I also get a scarf to cover the gaps in my outfit. We walk up to the church. I hiss to my husband, “hold a child – they look great – no one will notice us”. It’s only when an uncle shakes my husband’s hand saying, “AH! You must be one of the relatives from New Zealand” that it is confirmed that his outfit is clearly more suitable for someone planning eat huge amounts at a beach BBQ than attending a posh country wedding.
Have I mentioned we’re also potty training? Wedding marquees are great for that – sons can pee at will into the frog potty right by your table. Then just unlace a small section of “the wall” and fling the contents at the near-by shrubbery (just take care to not hit any passing catering staff). Marquees may be great for potty training, but motorways not so much! As we head home, I am utterly determined that this weekend is not going to derail my potty training schedule. To put a pull-up on him now – before a minimum 4 hour car journey - would clearly have long term disastrous consequences including continence issues throughout his life and going off to University in pull-ups. This is how we end up on the hard shoulder of the M25 in torrential rain on a frog potty as the articulated lorries hurtle past. This is how I end up climbing over the back of the passenger seat to hold my son over the potty in the footwell of the car as he tells me “it’s coming out” while we approach the service station slip road.
Potty training may be long behind us but potty parenting is not. I asked my husband why he allowed me to be quite that crackers. He tells me that I can be very convincing that I know what I’m doing. We are all so desperate to get it right, to achieve the next milestone, to appear to have it together, to produce every required item for every eventuality from the ever-present changing bag. It’s all a bit endurance-event exhausting. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be part of a community that felt like family where we could be honest, laugh at our failings, share our craziness, pray for our children and encourage one another to depend on Jesus? We do, it’s called church, and I’d go potty without it. We need one another, we need people further down the road to give us perspective, we need people newer on the road to give us energy and new ideas, we need people along-side us to understand us and over us trying to draw us on. We need to encourage one another to keep going as we wait for that day when we will all be at a wonderful wedding with the perfect clothing provided at great cost by the bridegroom himself.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the lamb has come, and the bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Revelation 19:6b-8, ESV) What a day that will be – no dodgy outfits and no one flinging potty contents anywhere! “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”