The Vine: December 28, 2011
Backstory: childhood best friend and I have been good friends for about 23 years now. We were in preschool together, most of the same classes until we graduated high school, sleepovers, the whole "golden childhood memories with P" deal. We drifted apart a bit when I moved across the country for college, mainly staying in touch through e-mail and AIM when we had time, but it wasn't uncommon to go a month or two in between talking. She came out to my city to be a bridesmaid in my wedding 5 years ago.
She's now getting married in about a year, and has always been very adamant about not wanting kids at her wedding — even before there was a guy to marry, she knew she didn't want kids there, didn't want their noise and running around and general unpredictability. Which I totally understood, because one of the babies who was at my wedding cried the whole damn ceremony. I work with kids, I know they cry sometimes for myriad reasons (and sometimes no reason) but I get her not wanting that to happen at hers.
My husband and I planned to start trying to have a baby in January, knowing it could take a few months to happen; friend announced her wedding date, and I figured okay, I'll just be really pregnant at the wedding. Of course, since we had it all planned out, it went to hell. I'm now pregnant quite a few months before expected, and the baby will be a few months old by the time P's wedding rolls around. When I told her, she didn't respond for a while, then kind of reiterated the fact that she doesn't want kids at her wedding. So, here are my options as I see them: don't go to the wedding, even though that would hurt her and I really want to be there for her when she gets married; go to the wedding but leave husband and very small infant at the hotel, run back after the ceremony to nurse, go to the reception for a bit, then go back to the hotel for the night to nurse again; go to the wedding with baby and husband and have husband keep baby out of the sanctuary during the ceremony and skip the reception entirely.
None of those options are particularly enticing to me — my dream scenario involves being at the ceremony and popping out the door if the baby fusses, and having the baby at the reception. At that age, nursing and then sleeping through it is entirely possible, and since it'll be a party-type reception, even if the baby did cry I could just pop out for a minute and it wouldn't be obtrusive.
Is it horrible of me to think that, for a child that young, who wouldn't be eating or running around or even be old enough to want to get down and crawl, she should let it go? I really don't want to miss her wedding, but a 2-month-old is just too young to leave home with dad for the 3 days or so I'd need, since she still lives in our hometown (and none of my family is still there to babysit). Not to mention the fact that I plan on nursing, so leaving the baby 10 hours away from me just won't work.
I REALLY didn't want to end up as a "make an exception for my special snowflake" mother
No, it isn't horrible of you. That said, here's what probably happened when she got your email. She read it; she initially thought to herself, well, it's a 2-month-old, who cares; she thought about it some more and realized that if she makes an exception for one person, other people — people with toddlers; people who wouldn't be conscientious; both — might expect exceptions to be made for them as well; she felt bad about it, and like it maybe makes her look like an asshole not to let you slide on it, but she just doesn't want children at her wedding, so she put the ball back in your court with a "this is my longstanding policy on the kids-at-the-wedding issue, so," and hoped you would be able to make other arrangements that take her off the hook.
In other words, she probably does want to let it go, but if she lets it go for you, etc. and so on. I'm neither excusing nor condemning it, but I suspect that it's a slippery-slope issue for her. She probably should have just laid it out for you all, "Look, I'm not trying to be a dick here, I know the baby will be teeny. I'm just afraid Cousin Jerkstore is going to get wind of it and unleash the triplets on us, so…we didn't have this conversation, you dig?"
But…she didn't, so the question, really, isn't so much "shouldn't she let it go," but "she isn't going to let it go, so now what." Well, you tell her regretfully that it's just not feasible for you to travel that distance with a nursing infant if you can't have the baby with you most of the weekend. No need to press the point, or say that you think she should be more flexible; just state gently but firmly that, if the baby isn't allowed, you'll have to decline. This may prompt her to give you a pass, and it may not, but parents of small children have these kinds of limitations, everyone knows it, and if she doesn't want to deal with it, she's not going to have those parents celebrating with her. Make your choice, feel good about it, and if she changes her mind, great — but this is her choice.
I will say that, if you're a bridesmaid, you should get a dispensation on it that "regular" guests might not, but that's just my opinion.
Tags: etiquette friendships kids