About a year ago, my cousin got engaged. So exciting! They got things planned pretty quickly and sent out save the dates—bride’s family vacation house in a Great Lakes town, June, Saturday night. That’s a few hours drive for me, but I knew by that time my baby would be nine months, and I’d be ready to make the trip. Of course, the next time I saw them they were all, “Oh we really hope you can come,” and I was all, “Wouldn’t miss it sounds so amazing!”
A few months after that, they let me know it was going to be a childfree wedding. Okay! I mean, obviously that’s a bit harder for me, but I’m totally fine with babysitters, and they said they were even going to provide a sitter. Still so excited to go!
Fast forward until now, and I’ve just received the invitation. That sitter they said they would provide? Yeah actually just a link to Care.com. Like, thanks guys, but yes I too have heard of the Internet? But still, okay. I’d prefer a sitter with some personal connection, but I have a couple months, I’m sure I can find a friend of a friend (best use of Facebook is for out of town babysitters). And then I see the reception card. Turns out the wedding itself is going to be in the bride’s family vacation home yard. The reception is going to be on a boat in the lake. The boat departs at 6 and returns at 10. The vacation house is then a twenty minute drive from any hotel.
Ummmmmmm. I know I said, repeatedly, I was definitely going. But now… I don’t wanna? It just feels really different to leave my baby with a sitter, versus leave my baby with a sitter and get on a boat that I can’t leave until the end of the night. Can I change my mind? How do I tell them?
—can i change my mind?
A:DEAR mind changer,
Yes! You can 100 percent totally change your mind. RSVP no, send a nice card (and a gift if you are so inclined), and feel zero guilt about this.
Verbal statements like “I can’t wait to come!” and “wouldn’t miss it for the world!” and “I’ll definitely be there!” when offered months before the wedding before invitations have gone out are not binding promises. They are excited hopeful expressions of what you really would like to have happen! They convey enthusiasm and joy and love and not actually a promise to book tickets and be there. That’s what the formal invitation and RSVP accomplish.
Here, it’s totally understandable why you are changing your mind. I love how willing you are to be flexible. You’re willing to travel with a baby! You were cool with leaving said baby with a sitter! That’s awesome, and shows how into this wedding you were.
But I agree with you. If you’re comfortable with a sitter, but not a sitter AND you’re on a boat and can’t leave if something goes wrong, that seems pretty normal to me. (Programming note for other couples: in general people don’t like feeling held hostage. Not everyone wants to stay at your wedding until the very end. There is nothing that turns happy party people into grim clock watchers like knowing there is no exit or escape.)
Providing a sitter is a great way to help people with children attend your childfree wedding, but in no way is it a guarantee they will make it. Some people just aren’t comfortable with sitters, and you have to let them politely decline to attend. Others would be cool with a sitter they know, but the added challenge of being far from home is too much. Again, sad, but fine. And for goodness sake, if you are going to promise to provide a sitter, actually do it? A link to Care.com is no help at all, you get zero credit for that.
I hope that the happy couple accepts your “no” graciously or, if they don’t, that you can take comfort in my long-distance side eye.
And if what you are actually feeling is an internal pressure to be a cool chill mom, I get that. Moms get a lot of pressure to be 100 percent totally devoted to their kids and also 100 percent exactly the same as they were before they had kids, and that’s obviously not possible. Declining this particular invitation doesn’t mean you have zero chill; it means this one particular event doesn’t work for you. It’s not a referendum on How You Mom (and if it is, I’m voting you Mom awesome).
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