Editor’s Note: Welcome to Red Thread’s new advice columnist, Debra Darvick, a longtime Detroiter with…
Dear Debra: Tiger Moms & Bachelorettiquette
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or use this anonymous form.
My husband and I will be visiting my in-laws soon with our new baby. They are throwing a party in our daughter’s honor. I am nervous about how I will be able to keep all the guests from touching her.
I don’t want to appear mean, but I can’t stand the thought of hordes of visitors trying to hold her and reach for her. I know they mean well and are excited for us, but how can I protect our baby from all that touching without seeming rude or unappreciative?
— Tiger Mom
Dear Tiger Mom,
I understand your anxiety about being the center of some pretty intense attention. Just remember that everyone who reaches out to touch your baby is overcome with excitement and memories of their own days as a new parent. Plain and simple, babies are magic; the spell they cast turns ordinary people into boundary breakers, well-meaning, but boundary breakers all the same.
On party day, designate a place as baby central, maybe in your in-laws’ den or living room. Set up a Pack ‘n Play or lay your daughter on her favorite blanket on a section of a couch or deep chair. The idea is to make her accessible to looks and cooing, but not to reaching out and touching. Take turns with your husband receiving your guests.
By staying beside your daughter, you can say simply and warmly to anyone who looks like they might pounce, “Please, no touching.” They will get the message. And should you encounter someone who doesn’t, repeat your no-touching request firmly and perhaps take the baby to another room for a brief nap or a feeding.
Above all, take a deep breath and enjoy all the attention and love during your stay. Before you know it, your little daughter will be running circles around you. Next time you visit your in-laws, you just might welcome someone taking her off your hands for a few minutes so you can grab a bagel or slice of quiche and share some grown-up conversation.
I’ve just returned from another budget-blowing bachelorette weekend. When I RSVP’d, I asked the hostesses what the shared costs would be. The party was in another state so there were flight and hotel costs as well. The hostesses never responded to me. Some of the other guests were just as shocked as I was at the cost of the dinner and gift we were expected to contribute. The bride was not a Bridezilla in any way. I don’t think she would have wanted us to go to such an expense.
There are more friends in our group who are engaged or about to be. I want to celebrate with and contribute to the events. But what can I do so that I don’t end up broke before the last bride walks down the aisle?
— Where’s the Bachelorettiquette?
Dear Where’s the Bachelorettiquette,
(Nice turn of phrase by the way.)
As with everything from baby birthday parties, bar mitzvahs and sweet 16s, wedding hooplah is approaching Roman proportions. Instead of burning silently while the hostesses fiddle with the plans, speak up!
Before you RSVP, ask the hostesses what they estimate the shared costs will be. Be straight up; let them know that you cannot RSVP without a clear picture of the costs involved. If the plans seem to be drifting toward Rome, offer to research some budget-friendly options.
Because all of you are going to be trading roles — hostesses, guests, bride — there should be sensitivity to everyone’s financial realities. If not, and if you really cannot afford to attend, tell the bride as soon as you can. Plan to do something special together before the wedding. Bottom line, what matters most is being there for your friend throughout the years. One party won’t, or shouldn’t, make or break a good friendship.
You might be surprised that others in your group are just as concerned as you are. Before the next bash, perhaps all of you can discuss reasonable parameters so everyone can attend and still be able to meet their financial responsibilities.
And look at it this way. Learning to speak up now and set boundaries is good practice for when you all have babies and you are confronted with party guests who want to touch and hold your newborn. (See above from Tiger Mom.) RT
Debra Darvick shares her unique take on life, books and more at debradarvick.com.