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Miss Manners: Demands of motherhood curbs invites

Judith Martin And Jacobina Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a new mother, trying my best to keep up with all the demands motherhood brings. And I just finished reading a column in which you said that “Maybe” was never an appropriate response when you RSVP.

I admit I have been saying “Maybe” to events lately. I would really like to attend these events if possible, but if I need to stay home to nurse my son, then I wouldn’t be able to attend.

I assume when my son is older, it will be easier for me to commit. But what should I do in the meantime? Decline invitations? Say yes, and then back out at the last minute if I cannot attend?

GENTLE READER: While Miss Manners is sympathetic to the pressing and unpredictable demands of new motherhood, she also cautions against relying on your child as a perpetual excuse (in nonemergency situations, of course).

You will find that it will have the unfortunate result of diminishing invitations.

While it is still early, you may want to find a way to reconcile this now. If finding an alternative food source for your son is not an option, then yes, decline invitations until you can find a satisfying schedule. Your hosts would likely be happier knowing your status is temporary, than thinking of you as simply an unreliable guest.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do I react when people say “I’m sorry,” but they really are not, and I do not want to forgive them?

An example – a friend or client is running late and it inconveniences me greatly. They show up and throw out a quick, “Oh, I’m sorry I’m late (insert excuse).”

Must I reply, “That’s OK” – even if it isn’t?

GENTLE READER: People also say, “How are you?” as a nicety and rarely listen to the answer. Miss Manners acknowledges that saying “I’m sorry” is better than not.

However, as long as you are not rude in your reaction, responding “That’s OK” is not necessary. “Oh, I’m sure it must have been important” should convey the inconvenience while still giving the offenders the benefit of the doubt.

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