Mama's Solo Weekend in Toronto

For the first time since my daughter was born, I left my family behind for a weekend alone at my best friend's wedding

Why yes, I have gone from zero to sixty on the wedding-related posts since that's what comes next on our journey, and it just so happens that my sister's one year anniversary was the day before my best friend's one month anniversary. It's a romance overload, so let's get it on. I mean, on with it.

When I was originally honored with a request to be a bridesmaid in my best friend Dave and his then-fiancée Ambar's wedding, the World's Cutest Human was to join me as a flower girl. But then my family quit our New York life and hit the road, and those plans became a little more difficult (abandoning our beloved trailer in some campground across the country for a weekend when we were first starting out seemed daunting, if not totally stupid).

My Love is also not the biggest lover of weddings (as an event) nor hip hop (a genre Dave and I have shared an appreciation for since before we knew each other, as does Ambar, so I knew the soundtrack to these nuptials would light my fire and put out My Love's). So we mutually and happily decided that I would fly solo, literally, while he and the WCH held down the rolling fort, wherever we'd be.

We had to guess where we would be on September 11th, when I was set to fly in to Toronto for the rehearsal dinner and beginning of the weekend's events. My Love picked Sydney, Nova Scotia in Cape Breton. That meant we had to get to Sydney on time to catch that flight, which we barely did with one day to spare. I spent that day preparing my family for my departure and packing my bags (carefully, because when you're in the wedding, you don't want to forget anything like, oh, say, your bridesmaid dress, or shoes, or strapless bra, or God forbid your Spanx... you know).

I spent the evening before my 5:30 AM flight in a Holiday Inn near the airport, extending my time away from my family by one sleep. I cried in the days leading up to my departure, anticipating the separation from my daughter for the first time since she can remember and imagining her being upset as I left her behind. 

Instead, she was completely nonchalant and happy. "Bye mama! Have fun!" she said, throwing me a half-kiss and an on-the-move hug, more excited for another elevator ride back down to the car with Papa than concerned that I wasn't joining them. 

It will hit her later, I thought. But it didn't. She never got sad and that made me so happy and so relieved (save for one moment during the wedding itself, when I snuck out to call and say goodnight and she cried, which killed my party mama buzz, though not hers, as her sadness apparently ended with the phone call).

By the time my little family duo reached the Great White in the parking lot downstairs to head back to the trailer, I was already in the shower, ready for a long, hot soak before jumping in to starfish my hotel room bed. A 5:30 AM flight meant a 3:45 AM wakeup call. And a 3:45 AM wakeup call (with mom wisdom) meant no TV, no blogging and no iGirling. It was straight to sleep for me.

Of course I couldn't fall asleep for an hour and unfortunately, nature called about an hour before my alarm. So I was up before 3 AM, and being that Nova Scotia is an hour ahead of Toronto, I was really up at 2 AM Ontario time as far as the day ahead was concerned. With the rehearsal dinner and a welcome party later that night, I knew I had a long one ahead of me.

But the excitement for Dave and Ambar fueled my energy and I put on a chipper little pot of hotel room single brew-with-no-milk coffee, and appreciated every bitter sip. Early times call for desperate measures.

At least I was up on time. I pulled on comfy flying clothes, zipped up my bags and jumped into a waiting cab downstairs.

 Ready to fly at an ungodly hour!

Ready to fly at an ungodly hour!

The flight was surprisingly full but once I arrived in Toronto, bright and early at 7 AM, the rest of the day seemed to go by at a leisurely pace. I alternately cruised down the highway toward Sarnia, Ontario (the actual destination of the wedding) with Rihanna and a short list of top pop hits blasting at full volume, and pulled off for sanity and alertness stops. I had no choice but to get a Tim Horton's coffee and breakfast sandwich. Then I pulled over an hour before I reached Sarnia to paint my nails because that would give them time to dry while I drove. Multitasking on a budget; moms do it best. Trailer Moms, even better.

I arrived in time to help Dave's mom set up a bit for the welcome party they were hosting, and to catch up with his dad and brother, and a few family friends, too. I haven't seen his family for a few years, but they are one of the most amazing, close, easygoing, supportive and loving families I've ever met. It felt so great to see and spend time with them again.

The rehearsal that afternoon was long and humorous (not so much to the bride and groom, who were attempting to be patient with a type-A pastor, but that made it more hilarious to the rest of us with a twinge of sympathetic empathy).

For guests like me — attending solo, and not having met a lot of the other guests before despite having been close to Dave to more than seven years — a welcome party-before-the-big-party was super helpful and fun. I was able to have casual, more intimate conversations with Dave and Ambar's friends and family, and get to know them a bit before the structure and madness of the wedding, where it can be hard to meet new people. I don't know if it was because they were all Canadians, but everyone — and I mean everyone — was extraordinarily friendly and genuinely nice. The company Dave and Ambar keep, and the greater circle of community that surrounds them, is enviable. I wanted all of them to be my new best friends. I also reveled in the time to catch up with our mutual friends, who I similarly had not seen in years (four years in New York flew by quickly and in a bubble), snuggling babies I'd yet to meet and their parents, who I'd had missed seeing on a regular basis.

After the party, I was even more excited to rejoin my old friends and new acquaintances for the next day's festivities. I spent the night in the bridal suite with Ambar and the other bridesmaids, gossiping and chatting, but only until 11 PM. It was such a special time that I was thankful to be a part of, but I was equally grateful that the bride was interested in beauty sleep, because this bridesmaid was struggling in a big way — and failing at her game face — as the 24-hours-awake mark approached. 

Plus, we had an alarm set for 6 AM the next morning, so that Ambar and I could shower, gather my fellow bridesmaids and head for Glamourtown. Thanks to Ambar's thoughtfulness — she is easily one of the most thoughtful women on this planet— Glamourtown was an early morning party, with Beyonce jamming, food that flowed straight from a gorgeous breakfast into a gorgeous lunch (no bridal party pass-outs from hunger!), and each of us taking turns in the hair and makeup chairs.

For a mom who barely gets through the 'brushing my hair and teeth' part of my beauty routine, it was very surreal and very fun.

But as fun as it was to enjoy being pampered, it was more fun to watch Ambar transform from the beautiful, gracious, caring woman that my best friend loves, into the stunning bride he would wed later that day. I knew how excited he would be when he saw what a classy little dime was walking down the aisle toward his arms forever.  

Once our girly glam was complete, the rest of the day and night became a blur, rushing from hotel to church to photo sites to the reception, and before I knew it, back to the hotel to crash. I'll let my low-budg iPhone photos speak for themselves.

 Wedding party bus, baby!

Wedding party bus, baby!

 The site of the wedding photos, a family friend's gorgeous home on Lake Huron.

The site of the wedding photos, a family friend's gorgeous home on Lake Huron.

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 The head table, for two.

The head table, for two.

 Photo by Jamie Marie Mopa

Photo by Jamie Marie Mopa

 Photo by Michelle

Photo by Michelle

The collapse into my hotel bed that night was swift. I stripped at the door and ran for the site of sleep. Because truth be told, it's a hard call for a mama who is alone for only a couple nights to choose between partying the night away or catching up on three years' rest. My mind fell asleep and my body gave up on me before the party was over, that's unfortunately for sure. But it was still an incredible weekend and there is no where else I would have been on September 12, 2015.

Not enough sleep is a worse hangover for me than alcohol, and alcohol was also involved, so any way you look at it, I was feeling a bit out of sorts the next morning. I employed Starbucks and my favorite Oliviero Toscani glasses to perk me up. Some lip gloss, and we might've fooled someone, but no.

I spent the remainder of the day after brunch moving slowly, as I made my way back to the Toronto airport via Dave's parents for one last bit of chill time. The car ride back to the airport and waiting for the plane involved a lot of junk food for sugar spikes, and even more will to stay awake. It wasn't pretty, but it was worth it.

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I was sad to leave friends new and old behind, but when my plane touched down in the dark after midnight back in Cape Breton, and I knew my little family would be waiting for me, I rushed from the plane and into my precious toddler and My Love's arms, happy to be home

 Hello, Cape Breton. Where is my family?

Hello, Cape Breton. Where is my family?

Our morning coffee-in-bed-with-a-snuggle ritual was never so sweet as it was the next morning, as rain drummed on our rooftop and we settled in for a movie day in bed.

Solo time is a glorious treat, but nothing is so rewarding and fulfilling as time with my family in our little "truck house."