I am attempting to turn the tide, swim upstream, break the curse of Sisyphus–insert whatever metaphor you like for taking on a frickin daunting task. Eight years ago, I made the huge mistake of throwing my one-year-old a big birthday bash. It’s a nightmare I’ve been trying to wake up from ever since.
It started simply with a wish to gather friends and family so that they could gawk at the unbelievable cuteness of my one-year-old. Making it through the first year of my son’s life seemed like something huge, and something that called for a big-ass party.
After the first one, we didn’t see much harm in having a second one. Nevermind that we only knew one or two other kids his age. We had to have at least forty neighbors, pizza, Elmo cake, party favors, and juice boxes (yes, the adult kind too).
Another kid in the mix meant more pressure to put on a big ‘ole spread. You’ve gotta be fair. God forbid one kid gets something the other kid didn’t.
Then my kids started school, and I really felt the squeeze. Who started whole-class parties anyway? And why did everyone else jump on the bandwagon?
I tried to find a way out of it, but I was weak, and the what-ifs took me down. What if I don’t have a party and invite the entire class, will my kid be left out? Will he cry? The answer to that is even when you do invite all the kids to your party they don’t always invite yours, and, yes, there are tears.
Finally, last year, the sibling rivalry kicked in, and I reached the breaking point. “She had the balloon lady at hers; I want to go to Dart Wars this year.” Remember when a kid’s birthday party was just an ugly cake your Mom made, your family, a few friends, and some party hats?
My kids talk about their birthdays all year long. It drives me crazy and makes me feel like I’ve failed some part of the parenting test. They’re hyper-focused on presents and what outlandish party they can brag about to their friends. I’m mixing things up this year, and trying to undo the damage I’ve done. We’re going back to basics. Wish me luck.