Monday, August 17, 2009

The After Party

Here's a Violet funny: At a family wedding this weekend, someone was asking me how it was going with two kids instead of one. Clearly they think Violet suddenly dropped into our lives as a nearly-two-year-old toddler... Anyway, my answer is the same answer I usually give, "Aww, she's the easiest baby ever made, so it was no problem."

Her little ears had perked up when she realized I was talking about her, so she nodded and agreed, "Yes, I eassy!"

I kissed her plump little pink cheek and told her, "You may be easy, but that's not something you brag about, Sweet Pea..."


This past weekend was the celebration of the marriage of my youngest cousin. He's 24 now, 12 years my junior. I vividly recall his infancy as I was the perfect age to babysit when he was little -- at least until I moved away to college. I say this because it was a little strange being at his wedding. It made me feel old, but not really in a bad way. Old in that way that also makes me really glad I'm not 24 again and not just testing the waters of adulthood. I'm so glad that I have outgrown angst and insecurity and traded them for more experience and, yes, dirty diapers.

There were 11 Baker kids that were born in 12 years to my dad and his two brothers. Now, after a very tragic death, there are 10 of us. 6 married, 2 on second marriages, 1 divorced and 1 never-been-down-the-aisle (yet). Between us, we have 9 children and one stepchild. Plus two on the way (yay for babies!). And weddings aren't what they used to be, that's for sure!

Mine was the first and only two of us were of legal drinking age, so I can honestly say that it was the tamest wedding to date. My cousin (who counts as the divorced one in the tally above) was married next and his wedding was dry, but the after party... well... My uncle had turned the bathtub in the hotel into a cooler and it was probably a really good thing that we were all staying in the same place as I don't know that any of us who were old enough for driver's licenses could have driven. You know the wedding was insane when the father of the groom says, "Yeah... I need a drink after THAT."

The next few weddings really represented the "Golden years" as far as cousins whooping it up can go -- the majority of us were out of high school, some married, some not, but no kids on the scene yet. And party we did... The guys drank and the girls danced...and drank and danced and danced and drank. No one cuts a rug like the Baker Girls! To be fair, four of us studied dance for decades and shed all semblance of performance anxiety when the music is on... we joke that we're all Dancing Princesses until we marry and then we're Dancing Queens.

But the focus has shifted with the last three weddings. Why? The Baker Generation, Part II has arrived, though I'm guessing our parents see it as Part III, but that's something George Lucas has to figure out for us. Simply put, we've all got babies or babies on the way now. Well, most of us. Some have two and I'm working on three.

Instead of grooving on the dance floor with my close-as-sisters cousins, we're bouncing joyously around the parquet tossing shrieking, giggling toddlers into the air. My own Milo got his groove on like none other, even going so far as trying to line dance with a large group. Instead of joining us for a dance or two, our parents watch, smiling and nodding as we twirl our awe-struck daughters around the Princess Bride. You know, that whole Circle of Life thing...

I don't mind, in fact, I can honestly say I don't miss tipsy wedding dances, sweaty dresses and blistered bare feet. I don't want to go back to the days where I would roll my eyes at a sappy father-daughter dance song. I kind of like wiping tears as I watch my husband bouncing in time to the music his sweet baby girl on his knee, her profile outlined in fuschia from the DJ's lighting rig. I love partnering my young son as he enthusiastically mashes my toes under his feet, grinning ear to ear and trying to sing the words to songs he's never heard. Go ahead, Milo, play that funky music!

I know I'm not the only one. I caught my little brother, a soon to be daddy, holding his adorable wife from behind, rubbing her belly as they snuggled close, wrapped in a moment of time all their own. I saw my sister happily serenading her chubby little cutie and my cousin cheerfully encouraging his kids through a limbo line. For a moment, I was doubly blessed as I balanced my sweet, pale Violet with my cousin's dark Maya -- one on each hip, swaying to the music -- our tiny Dancing Princesses in training.

Who knew that life after the after party could be so sweet?

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