(In Retrospect) Lessons Learned From My Brother's Wedding

My little (and only) brother got married this past weekend. 

He married an angel. Truly. A dream come true for our family. 

But...

I'll be honest. I didn't want to go. Well, the anxiety-ridden/extremely fatigued part of me didn't want to go. My heart, on the other hand, has been there since the day they became engaged. 

Here are just some things I took away from this whirlwind weekend of wedding.

First of all, I didn't want to go (really) 

Let me be real and raw here when I say that anticipating taking five children aged 8 and under on a 1000 mile round trip road trip is enough to make you wanna call off the whole idea. But, anticipating taking that 1000 mile round trip road trip while suffering with anxiety and extreme fatigue/thyroid issues plus having not driven much of anywhere in several months is beyond overwhelming.

One of those many "overwhelmed" kind of moments... 

One of those many "overwhelmed" kind of moments... 

I wanted to run far, far away from this event. I struggled with feeling like I had no choice BUT to be there and then thinking "what kind of horrible sister are you to not be at your brother's wedding?!"

Just one week prior, I had taken the liberty to push myself to drive fifteen minutes, behind our house, to a see a friend whom I had never previously gone to her house before. Upon my departure, I notice my phone is at 10%, and I have to use my map app that brutally drains my phone so I can even find her house. 

Long story short, my phone guided me to the middle-of-freaking-nowhere with 2% battery life and no sense of how to get back home, much less to actually finding my friend's house. Oh, and it was getting dark, too. And, I had my two-year-old with me. So my first trek out solo in months, was a semi-disaster and a prime breeding ground for panic. Of course, I didn't desire to venture out of town, much less four states away just seven days later.

But, I went.

My Children Can Travel

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I anticipated the ride to be something like a non-violent horror film. I mean, what else could I have expected having a ten-month-old that has never been more than an hour away from home, a two-year-old that is literally a firework of energy and demands held hostage for multiple hours, and a nearly four-year-old that "has to potty" every other hour?! Let's not forget the six and eight-year-olds that can tag-team the "are we there yet's?" and "how much longer's?" the entire time. 

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I apologize. My children were amazing. I don't know if it had something to do with our awesome parenting prior to this event, my best friend's generosity in the busy bag department, or just an overwhelming amount of God's grace and mercy falling from the prayers that were sent up for us. (I'm going with the latter two possibilities).

My only desperate time was about thirty minutes from our destination on the way up when I had to nurse our baby while she remained strapped into her carseat, so I could converse with my husband about our whereabouts. 

My Family is Amazing (and it just got more amazing)

Considering this wedding was in the bride's home state of Pennsylvania, and we have absolutely no family that lives within any sort of reasonable distance from the location, there were many of us there. 

We spent our 10 year anniversary driving, and took this pic upon arrival to our hotel room. Not romantic in the least, but blessed beyond measure.  

We spent our 10 year anniversary driving, and took this pic upon arrival to our hotel room. Not romantic in the least, but blessed beyond measure.  

Even my inlaws, who have been more like family to my parents and family for my whole life, came anyway when they couldn't find a flight. They drove all day long, helped with our children, took our boys into their hotel room to make more room for us left in that "too tiny for our family of seven" room, and even missed the entire ceremony to help with all of the flower girls. Amazing love. And they left just 24 hours after arriving to drive back to North Carolina.

My grandparents took that same drive on Friday, left on Saturday and drove all night until they got home. They even missed the rehearsal and most of the dinner, but they pushed through and came. 

My uncle and cousin, drove all day long just to attend the wedding on Saturday. Drove back to Indiana that afternoon. They were there just fifteen hours total.

Even one of the groomsman, one of my brothers closest friends, flew all the way from Japan, was a part of the wedding and left today to return to Japan. Incredible love. Incredible sacrifice. 

Hotel Life With Little Ones (or, can I go to the pool?)

It seems like upon every collision of vehicle to hotel parking lot pavement induces the most predictable inquiry from children: "does this hotel have a pool"? 

Which inevitably leads to the next exclamatory inquiry: "can we go swimming....RIGHT NOW?!?"

It doesn't matter if you roll up after dark, or if your parents are having a hard time keeping their eyes open after a long day of travel. The burst of energy children acquire upon learning that, indeed, this hotel does have a pool is further confirmed by the wafting chlorine high that nearly knocks you dead upon entry in to the lobby. It's like a cruel reminder of what is coming next. "OOOHHHH!!! I can smell the pool, mommy!! Can we get our swimming suits on RIGHT NOW?!"

So...we did. We went swimming during the first half hour of our arrival.  

So...we did. We went swimming during the first half hour of our arrival.  

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I recall being that child and saying such childish things during my own childhood. It's a different story, entirely, when you're the mother of five little children that rarely come into contact with giant holes of concrete, filled with chlorinated water. 

So, within the first thirty minutes of arrival, naturally, they (the children) will all immediately don their swimming attire and be clamoring for the exit as if the room was swarming with bees. 

There's also no rest for the weary. Parents, that is. Especially when the only option is to snuggle a wiggly, nursey ten-month-old in a bed that you must share with your husband. It was tight.

I Did It (for my dad)

We made it. We're home now, having brought home buckets full of memories and hearts full of love. 

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I was able to do this weekend because of prayer. I was able to do this weekend because of love, encouragement, and enormous amounts of help. I did it because I knew I would never regret going to my brother's wedding. 

Sure, there were moments when I sobbed from exhaustion, frustration for feeling badly again, and just purely being overwhelmed. I did have one almost panic attack and one full panic attack that I reigned under control rather quickly. 

At the end of the wedding, after the reception was over, people dispersed and clothes were changed for the road trips ahead, my dad told me he was so proud of me. "I did it for you, dad", was my response. You see, my dad understands what it's like to battle a world of "what if's". My anxiety and health issues may have followed me on this road trip, but it didn't defeat me. I still was able to enjoy and partake of almost every moment. I pushed myself and pushed some more. And I know I was able to do so because of my family, the prayers, and my Heavenly Father. 

My brother's wedding was beautiful. And I have pictures to prove it. 

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