Welcome to ask a child-free person, the blog where I, a child-free person who studies motherhood for a living, negotiate common conflicts that arise between the parented and the child-free.
Hello parents and child-free friends! Today we are talking about the politics of socializing with a baby in tow.
A few years ago, I was at a bar for my friend Damon’s birthday at approximately 11:30 pm. In addition to lots of douche bag bankers and girls in maxi dresses, there also happened to be a baby at this restaurant/bar. The baby’s parents were worried this establishment’s music was too loud, and could be damaging their little one’s ears. In short order, the manager turned DOWN the sound system and we all stopped singing along to Journey.
No, this was not one of Damon’s more memorable birthday experiences. Unfortunately, it was the presence of a baby that marred the night for everyone.
Look, most of us – even if we regret having spent good money doing so – have probably seen this summer’s hit Seth Rogen/Rose Byrne comedy Neighbors by now. Even if you haven’t crossed to the other side of the parenting divide, you’d be a pretty insensitive person NOT to realize that staying home every night with a baby can be isolating.
I also get that parents often can’t afford or find babysitters. Even if you can get a babysitter, they often have rules like, “You have to be home by 11!” This means when your average house party usually gets going around 10 pm, you’re pretty much missing all the fun.
Who wants to leave a party to rush home to relieve your babysitter seconds after you arrived there? No one. If you’re going to have to leave after only 15 minutes, there’s not point bothering in blow drying, or using just the right amount of gel so your hair stays in place but doesn’t look wet all night.
So, there is one potential solution. You CAN bring your baby to the party, but please do some planning before doing so.
If you’re jonesing to go out but have to bring a bundle of joy, you should first call the hosts to see if it’s okay. DO NOT just bring your baby without telling them. Am I discriminating against babies here? Absolutely not! Babies are like any uninvited guest – you need to get permission to bring them before you do so.
When you ask your friend if you can bring baby along to the keg party/wine tasting/murder mystery dinner party, you should also give them an out. Truth be told, they might not want a baby there. Why? Well, maybe they’ll want to crank the music like we wanted to at my friend Damon’s birthday. Or maybe the host just isn’t super into babies, and doesn’t like the idea of a tiny human crying for milk while all the other guests are drinking merlot and playing Trivial Pursuit.
If it were me, I would call my friend to request permission to bring my baby a few days in advance or more. You need to give them time to consider the request. Whatever you do, DO NOT wait until 9:30 pm the day of the soiree, then send your friend a text like this: “Hey Caitlin/Steve/Rahim, We really want to come out tonight, but we don’t have a sitter. Can we just bring baby Asher/Aziza/Adeline along?”
Here’s the thing, a last-minute request puts a lot of pressure on your friend. They know you’re already basically out the door and so it’s hard to say no at that point. If it’s a dinner party, they may have actually made a specific amount of food counting on you coming. In that case, they either let you bring your sprog, or the work they put into preparing your dinner goes entirely to waste!
Anyway, in the end, I hope you receive invitations to lots of baby-friendly events. If worse comes to worse, you can also experiment with throwing “bring your baby” keg parties yourself. I personally know about 4000 parents who would be up for attending something like that.
Sarah Sahagian is a PhD candidate in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York U, where her academic specialty is motherhood. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, xoJane, & The Beaverton. When she’s not writing her dissertation, Sarah reads a lot of novels about other angsty young women, streams a lot of Netflix, and tweets about topics ranging from reproductive rights to who’s going to win The Bachelor.