Q: I am pregnant with my first child and I’m also going to be a bridesmaid later this year. Both of these things are exciting! However, as I get closer to both my due date and the wedding date, I’ve become more and more nervous about the logistics behind being both a good bridesmaid and a good mom in the span of the same evening. My baby will be six months by the time the wedding rolls around. We’ll be traveling across multiple state lines and staying in a hotel, so a babysitter isn’t really an option, mostly because of the cost on top of all the travel, dress, accommodations, gift, etc.
My baby is invited, which is above and beyond what I expected, and the plan is for my husband to take charge during the ceremony and pictures, stay for dinner if child is cooperating, then rush off with kid before the dancing/at bedtime to the hotel. I will stay and party into the night with my friend. It’s awesome of my friend to invite the baby, particularly because she’s childfree herself and has very little love for young children.
While this theoretically feels like a solid plan, I can’t help the pit in my stomach. Maybe it’s pregnancy hormones, but I feel a really deep guilt for preemptively abandoning my child… even with my very capable husband! I also know that I need to do non-parent adult things with and for my friends if I want to maintain my friendships (and also my sanity). But the unknowns are already killing me. What if I’m still nursing and baby won’t take a bottle? What if kid is a Stage 5 Clinger and screams for me the entire time? What if I get drunk and then something happens, and I need to be available to help take my kid to the hospital? What if, what if, what if…?
I’m worried that in my quest to make sure that both my friend and my kid don’t feel shortchanged, I’ll end up playing both sides too much and both will lose. How do I make sure I can be there for my friend the way she deserves and the way I want to, without ignoring that the image I have in my head of carefree all-night dancing and shots might not be in the cards six months postpartum? Perhaps put more generally, what would you expect of a new mom bridesmaid? Complete dedication to the bridesmaid role (“C’mon, it’s only one night!”) or wiggle room (“You made a new human and that changes things!”)?
A: I love this question. Because for once, everyone involved is behaving perfectly.
Yes, of course your dear friend should invite your baby to the wedding. Yes, of course, your husband should step up and take care of the baby and leave the wedding as needed. Yes, of course, you can be both the world’s best bridesmaid and the world’s best mom, and you already have an awesome plan!
And let’s be real here—this is not rocket science. Your friend is not a saint for inviting your baby. I’m really not into kids at weddings, personally, but when it’s your bridesmaid and a six-month-old baby you gotta get over it and welcome the little one. Your husband is stepping up because, presumably, he’s a good guy and when it’s your partner’s night to be a good friend, you take one for the team and deal with the spit up and diapers. This is just meeting bare minimum standards of good personhood, but we don’t always see that here at Ask A Bridesmaid, so I’m fully ready to pour one out for everyone involved here.
What I think brides should expect of new-mom bridesmaids is exactly what I think they should expect of any bridesmaid: love, support, and presence to the very best of their abilities. (See also a bottle of champagne in your purse, extra Advil, and entertaining her irritating aunt so the mother of the bride doesn’t jump off the roof.) You have a great plan that will enable you to fulfill a hundred percent of your bridesmaid duties: showing up, on time, in your assigned attire, attending the wedding, and smiling for photos. By the time the reception comes around your job is to kick back and enjoy yourself. Yes, shots until dawn is a fabulous way to do that, but it’s not the only option. Worried about being drunk when your child needs you? Have a champagne and call it a day. (Or go for it? Just saying, 911 works very well in emergencies and the doctor won’t be drunk, and also presumably your husband won’t be drunk, so there is that). And you may very well find that six months of sleep deprivation means you’re plenty tipsy without the shots.
Now for the tough love part. Leaving your baby with its other parent is in no way, at all, even a little tiny bit, abandoning, neglecting, or short-changing said baby. And I get it—it’s new! You’re worried! But you owe it to yourself, to your relationship with your spouse, and to your spouse’s relationship with baby to really push back on that idea. When you hear yourself thinking it, talk back! I’m a huge fan of bossy self-talk. “Ohhhhh but what if my baby feels unloved because I left them with their daddy for ten minutes.” “Self, you’re being completely ridiculous. He is a great dad and your baby is lucky to have him and to have an independent relationship with him. Get a grip.” Your self talk may be less bossy than mine, but think of something to say to yourself to counter this worry, because if you let it, it will threaten to take over your marriage and make equal parenting impossible.
There’s no way to plan perfectly for every possibility. You’re right, maybe something will happen and baby-related needs will cause you to be less present than you would like. But even without a baby, something could happen. You could be on antibiotics and not able to drink. Or you could have broken your foot, or lost your job, or your flight got cancelled. You’ll deal with unexpected disasters the same way you did before you were a parent: you make the best plan you can, you try really hard, and if it doesn’t work out you apologize and feel sad. The point is that you tried. You don’t owe your adult friendships a guarantee of perfection; you owe them effort, consideration, and strategically deployed babysitters. And you’ve got all of those in spades. Trust that you two have been close friends for a long time, and when you both try really hard to make it work, it will work.