Much has been written about the difficulties of having a new baby. Your former, orderly life explodes; there's no sleep, bodily fluids are everywhere and you have the 24/7 stress of meeting every need of a wailing being with zero neck strength or bowel control.
And it's all true. Having a newborn is ridiculously hard.
But new motherhood has its privileges.
Yes, there's joy, intense love and deep connection. But I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the wonder that is: The Baby Excuse.
That's right. For a limited time, whether it's your first or fourth child, as a parent of a new human being you are entitled to the following hidden benefits:
1. It is OK to look like you just finished a week-long bender inside a Motel 6. And you don't even have to stay indoors! You are allowed to walk around, wearing the same leggings, same greasy ponytail, same milk-stained shirt, same dazed zombie eyes, for days, in places of reputable business. In fact, every other mom in Target on a Tuesday at 9 a.m. will understand instantly and think, "Oh, I remember those days. Let me help you throw that family pack of Reese's Pieces in your cart, girl. You deserve it."
2. You can be late to everything. (Sure, you can be late even when you don't have a baby, but with a newborn, no one can give you crap for it.) Being responsible for a tiny human is the perfect, unassailable excuse for not showing up on time, or even AT ALL. Everybody knows you're frazzled, fatigued and that your kid probably sharted all over his onesie as you were walking out the door. It's a foolproof reason to not show up anywhere, really -- but especially not on time.
3. Your house can look like a family of bears lives there. Stuff can be everywhere. All the time. And instead of shooting judgy, alarmed looks at all the surfaces of your home stacked high with papers, diapers, unfolded laundry, used burp cloths and gifts you hope to exchange before your kid is in preschool, visitors might voluntarily help you straighten up.
4. You don't have to call anyone back. (In fact, no one even expects you to pick up the phone. How glorious is that?) Well, some people still expect you to answer, but you can shut down the slightest whiff of 'tude with, "Sorry. Did anyone throw up down your boobs today? While pooping on your arm? Alrighty then. Give me a jingle when they do!"
5. You are the proud owner of a Get-Out-of-Sex-Free card. No need to explain why nothing but loose mesh is coming near your lady bits, or come up with a "nice" reason why your husband is not allowed to touch you with a 3-ply condom.
6. You don't have to remember jack. Do you recall what fun it was to trot out the all-purpose "mom brain" excuse every time your crappy memory made you feel stupid when you were pregnant? Still in effect, ladies. Feel free to use it when you forget friends' birthdays, basic vocabulary words like "grocery shopping" or that you are not actually a paid spokesperson for Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream.
7. Naps are always justified, even when people are over. Have you had enough of visiting family (but they haven't left yet)? No problem! Just yawn and excuse yourself to your room. Amazingly, instead of being offended, everyone will think you've done the exact right thing. Thank you, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." You are a magical phrase.
8. You can bring 62 items into your dressing room when shopping for your post-baby body. I mean, technically, you can't, but roll up to the Fitting Room, dark-circled eyes wild with panic that you won't be able to complete your critical mission for a shirt (just ONE non-maternity shirt that extends below your belly button!) before your baby wakes up, or loses his shit, or you leak milk everywhere... and I dare any attendant with a pulse to refuse your cart piled high with every $8 crewneck in T.J.Maxx. If you encounter resistance, utter a desperate, "I just have no idea what size I am anymore!" and watch your fellow customers look on with pity/jealousy as you get waved in with 10 times the legal limit of items.
9. You don't have to cook. Um, hello. You are keeping a person alive. In some cases, almost single-handedly. So farewell chopping, you bane of existence. Ditto for annoying tasks like measuring, stirring, seasoning and meat-handling. Hello frozen lasagna, chicken nuggets and takeout menus from every establishment within three zip codes.
10. For part of every day, you own the remote. Your husband won't watch the RHONY Reunion (Part 2) with you, but your sleepy newborn will. Yeah, I know you're supposed to be bonding with your little one while he drinks milk. But even gazing at a perfect baby cheek gets old. So why not use the rare quiet moments to watch Jeff Lewis Flipping Out on a lazy contractor?
Yes, having a new baby is chaotic and overwhelming. But when else can you check out of polite, bathed society and actually attract more people to you? People who give you presents and food? Never, that's when. Everyone knows you just performed a miracle and you're treated like a damn hero. For a short time, everyone is on your side. You've got the empathy of spouses, family, friends and strangers. Use it.
User's Warning: You only have six months to take advantage of these benefits, so don't delay! Soon enough, the outside world will expect you to shave, brush your hair, brush your teeth before 4 p.m. and wear pants with a button enclosure every once in a while. Enjoy everyone's low expectations of you while you can.