The Birthday Party Curse
Oh boy, baby girl had a birthday a few weeks ago. Let me tell you, it was absolutely ridiculous. I lost my damn mind. I'm not a mom who feels that we need to be what everyone else is. My kids don't have to wear the same stuff every other dang toddler has on. I mean, they are toddlers! What do they know anyway?
But, as with all other aspects of life these days, the obsession with an Instagram quality life is turning reasonable (mostly) and level headed (almost never) moms like me (or someone who is actually reasonable and level headed) susceptible to falling down the rabbit hole of insanity over Train-themed birthday decorations and what bakery has the cupcakes (that's one terrible run on. sorry!). I feel like lots of this stems from the absurd expectations we, as parents, put on each other. It's full on mom-on-mom hate crime over here. For example, when my husband asked me what we were doing for Juju's birthday, I said, "nothing! let's go to dinner as a family and maybe stop for ice cream on the way home. Every birthday does not need a party." That is what I said, and truly I meant it. I did. I do. And then...I don't even know. All of my mom friends started asking what we were doing for her birthday...um, nothing. *Blank stare* Oh! Well, she's still really young, I am SURE she wont even remember! Ouch.
It truly got me feeling that maybe I was depriving my girl of a birthday experience (really? experience? Is that the word?). So, guilt and shame (from my friends!) made me think twice about my stance and ultimately to plan a freaking ridiculously birthday party complete with custom cake and petting zoo. The best part? I KNOW my little lady better than any other human on this planet, and while Juju is funny, smart, and studious; she is also extremely shy. Having 30 of our "closest friends" over to the house with a petting zoo is NOT her idea of a good time. In fact, I hate taking her parties where I know the mom likely has an invitation list of more than 15. It's just not fun for her. So, not only did I spend an insulting and embarrassing amount on a two year old's birthday, my daughter had a rotten time. I am a dick.
Seriously people, what happened to punch and cake? To having friends over to play? Truthfully, my childhood birthday's were spent with family. We would have dinner together (birthday girl's choice for dinner obviously) and a small cake. I don't feel like I missed out on anything. I am not damaged. So, why wouldn't I give my kids something similar? Why not create a birthday tradition that is sustainable into later life when they will have to steer their own course (and pay the bill)?
It got me thinking, are we just ALL feeling obligated to throw a party regardless of cost? If this is where we start, what the hell happens when they're 8 or 16? How is this a supportable and expandable endeavor? I'm going to need a second job (and then a third) just to fund the ever growing need for birthday cake.
I, for one, cannot do it. I don't want to do it. We still have to pay for college...perhaps those dollars could be better spent (or not spent at all). In the end, it feels like I'm doing them a disservice and doing myself one as well by not showing some restraint. By not making a birthday live within the context of real life. So next year, I think my kiddos will be over the moon with a trip to the park and an ice cream cone. I have real shit to do with my time and money. Love and Hugs. M