Good news for slightly misanthropic types the world over: Did you know that one of the least publicized advantages of having a baby is that it is, in fact, the greatest excuse ever invented to get out of doing stuff, with no loss of honor? When you were childless, you pretty much had to get spinal meningitis to talk your way out of a bridal tea or a work-sponsored tree-planting ceremony. Now, you have a living breathing RSVP with "decline" checked off, and contrary to what employers everywhere suspect, approximately 97% of the time, you're not even bullshitting.
For instance, every time your work has a potluck, your baby might decide to start teething the night before. Oh, sure, you wanted to spend your first two free hours in recent memory making banana pudding from scratch for coworkers, honest, it's just that she had this runny nose and was crying and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz, ANYWAY. Off the hook!
It reminds me: Once I worked with this dude who had a kid, and the funny thing about it was you that you could only tell on account of the fact that he was in a really bad mood all the time. I figured, why so butt-hurt about never getting to go out? Hey – lemme be clear about this: If you see me sulking at my desk cause I haven't slept right in 18 months and I don't seem chatty about whether Moneyball is, like, some kind of commentary on Katrina, I swear, it's not that I'm in a bad mood, it's that I thought you understood I've been relieved of my duties? I've got the social contract right here.
Sure, right after you have a baby, most people have the decency, not to mention good sense, to leave you alone for the first few months anyway, figuring you can't get your shit together fast enough to spend a whole weekend competing in a Rock Climb for Diabetes. But if that doesn't do the trick, all it really takes is answering honestly about what it's like to have a baby exactly twice, and no one will invite you to anything ever again.
The slightest mention of your baby probably already has coworkers nodding politely and backing away slowly, slipping that Mad Men-themed cocktail party invitation behind their back faster than you can say "Well, it's like, we put her to bed at 8 but if that doesn't work and she fights it you never know, we could be at it for hours and then by the time she gets to sleep it's like OUR time to go to bed, so I'd sure love to swing on in cause I just got started on season 4, but…"
Moreover, they will get so tired of hearing why you can't attend their End of Summer Becca Turns 27 and Came Back From Poland With Some Guy, Woot! party that the invites will eventually taper off all but completely. This is a good thing!
First, Becca's kind of a spaz, let's be honest, and two, this is what I call a second chance social tabula rasa. Usually reserved for transitions such as The Junior High Dweeb Ditch (before high school credibility is called into question) and the High School Purge and of course the Great Post-College Shed of Embarrassing Buds, it's a card not often dealt in one's thirties, but with baby comes the hard-earned right to shuffle the deck and reevaluate the old dilly-dally list. Don't be afraid to cull with a sharp, glistening knife.
Also, this is a godsend for those of us who can't stand talking about TV plots, or whether or not so-and-so is sexy, beautiful, drop-dead gorge or just girl-next-door cute and whether we would look like her if we could or if we just think she's pretty like in the way you think someone else is pretty from afar, but you don't want to, like, totally look like them because you actually like your own eyes and hair? That shit's gotta burn.
Did you know that your baby can get a fever approximately every other week for the first year of daycare? That's a helluva lotta missed A Perfect Circle reunions at Lollapalooza! Did you know that ear infections are a dime a dozen? Diarrhea, the flu, run-of-the-mill colds: No pointless barbecues, no family reunions and certainly no come-look-at-my-gross-old-clothes-and-see-if-you-want-any party. Coupla routine immunizations and bam! You just bought yourself a half-day off work, mister.
I hear teething alone is apparently good for three years of legitimate last-minute, who-knows-when-that-shit's-gonna-pop-up cancellations. THREE YEARS. Play your cards right and you may never have to hear about another one-a-them riotous viral Internet memes again. Lolz-a-Friday-Republican-corndog-whut?!
But it's more than just invitations to middling movies, mediocre barbecues and insufferable rock shows that you'll now be able to turn down without a care in the world, isn't it? Why, you can ostensibly give the next 18 years of your life the Heisman if you really put your mind to it. Why stop the party of one?
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She doesn't want to hang out.
Image by Steve Dressler.