Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Skip my child’s birthday for a friend’s wedding? A friend is getting married on what will be my son’s third birthday. His birthday is on a Saturday this year. It is a kid-free wedding. We would have to leave him with a sitter for most of the day into the evening and host his party with his preschool friends on a different date. I would much rather spend his third birthday with him and his friends than attend the wedding. The friend and I are part of the same social circle, but we are not particularly close friends anymore, although we used to be (she was in my wedding). Is it reasonable to skip the wedding for my son’s birthday? If so, what should I say to her? We see each other relatively often in group settings.
A: It would be reasonable to go, and it would be reasonable to skip, which I realize was probably not the answer you were hoping for. It would be mildly inconvenient for you to find a sitter and celebrate your son’s birthday a few days later, but at 3 years old, he’s probably not going to notice the difference. It would be a kind gesture to attend your friend’s wedding, especially since she was apparently a member of your bridal party, even though your intimacy has declined in the intervening years, so consider this as one of those occasional social chores necessary in maintaining a friendship.
That said, if you really don’t want to attend, and you don’t particularly care about regaining any of your lost closeness, it’s certainly within the bounds of politeness to send your regrets, along with a gift and a nice note. Others abide our question; thou art free.