Call it motherhood's best-kept secret: there's a hidden advantage to having a baby that no one, not even the well-meaning mums in your life, will tell you about, and that's that your little tot is the single greatest excuse you will ever have to get out of doing just about anything. Not only that, but you'll also actually come off looking like a saint.
Before a woman has a child, she has to do nothing short of contract listeria or fake her own death to get out of any number of Great Gatsby-themed birthday parties or $100-prix-fixe bridal shower brunches without an eye roll from the host or a passive-aggressive Twitter exchange.
But enter baby, and it's like you said you can't attend because you're busy curing Ebola or meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss our nation's obesity epidemic. Instead of getting a "U R LAME!!!" text, you get appreciative understanding. "She has so much on her plate," they'll say to themselves. "How does she do it?"
You, dear mum, are a hero. And your baby is a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.
Just having a baby in your possession is excuse enough to get you out of countless awkward happy hours, company dinners, and bachelorette parties, and the best part is — at least 98 percent of the time — you aren't even making anything up. No more having to lie about fracturing your ankle — a fib that requires you to wear an air cast for the next three months and walk with a limp for the next year — because being too exhausted from a thankless job or too broke from an underpaid one aren't worthy excuses. You are exhausted. You are broke. You are incapable of carrying on a conversation that doesn't involve sleep training or "the introduction of solids."
And for that other two percent of the time when you use your child as a cuddly little scapegoat, well, no one's going to question you. So, in addition to all those times your baby had you checking "respectfully decline" on that RSVP card for good reason, here are a few more instances in which they have their advantages:
- Going in early. Day care drop-off is hard enough as it is.
- Staying late. Day cares close, you guys.
- Office bake sales. Right, because I have time to make snickerdoodles from scratch while my toddler is making snow angels with the flour I dropped on the floor.
- Potluck dinners. Especially when, by the time I signed up, all that was left on the list was "gluten-free pasta alternative."
- Cleaning the house. The vacuum cleaner interrupts nap time.
- Other kids' events. I already have one of those, and I prefer mine to yours.
- Long-distance weddings. You expect me to fly with a 2-year-old and then find a local babysitter to come to my hotel room so we can attend your cash-bar adults-only reception?
- Not knowing popular memes. What is this "Salt Bae" you speak of?
- Not understanding Snapchat. Wait, I just learned Vine. Are we not using Vine anymore?!
- Idle chitchat with co-workers. I'm sorry, I can't stand in the break room and talk to you about your boyfriend's marathon for 45 minutes. I have to actually leave this place on time in eight hours.
- Book club. Yeah, I haven't read that.
- Game of Thrones watch parties. Yeah, I fell asleep watching that.
- Outdoor concerts. It's either going to be too cold, or it's going to be too hot. It's never going to be just right.
- Cocktail parties at sceney bars. See, I'd have to be late because her bedtime is at 7:30 p.m., and if she doesn't go down straight away, we need to read Goodnight Moon three times before she'll get back in her crib, which will put us at about 8:47 p.m., and by then, it's too dark for her to go to sleep without me lying on the ground next to her, so then I'd need to change out of my wrinkled dress, and we'll get there close to 11 p.m., which is when I need to pump, so . . .
Finally, a warning: although you'll have your child for a lifetime, using them as an excuse only lasts for so long. In fact, once they start talking, you can kiss goodbye to the days of saying, "Sorry, we're still not sleeping through the night," while slyly nodding at your unassuming, well-rested toddler. By that point, they'll certainly rat you out, either on purpose or due to the fact that they are children who haven't yet learned the benefits of white lies. And no one wants to lament not being able to attend their nephew's piano recital only to have their little one interject with, "But, Mummy, you told Daddy you'd rather amputate your eardrums than listen to Teddy bang on the keys for 45 straight minutes."
But even then, there's a loophole. It's why people have second babies.