Hindsight Parenting: Skipping the Mega Birthday Party
My daughter, Ila, turns 4 this week, and…and…and…(Ok Logan…DEEEEEEP breath!) andwearen’thavingaparty! Phew…there I said it. Yup. I said it. My name is Logan Fisher and I am not having a birthday party for my daughter. Ok now, Martha Stewart…stop tapping your toes, unclench your fists and uncross your arms. I did NOT say we weren’t celebrating the day. We still are, but we aren’t having a balloons-kids-favors-games-screaming-paper-ripping-streamers-hanging-get-down-with-music-party. I am not sure why this decision has been bothering me so much…ok…that isn’t all together true…I do THINK I know why it is bothering me, but that is a phrase that is probably harder for me to say than the “we are not having a party” thing…
I guess the fact that truly, currently, there aren’t many to invite if we HAD a party it may sting just a little. Ila’s (and my) family are far flung, full-plated and (if I was telling the truth) some are just downright AWOL and uninvolved, and the friends that she has made she hasn’t had that long and therefore we don’t feel comfortable having them purchase a gift for our daughter. This combination has made for a year without a party for our soon-to-be four year old.
Now, as a young-keepin’-up-with-the-Joneses kind of mama with my two boys, each year there was SOME kind of party, whether it be with bundles of buddies or a fancy fete with family, my inner Martha came out to spend a week preparing superfantasmic cakes, creating inviting hand-made invitations, and themed decorations that turned our mundane ranch into a jungle on the Amazon, an African Savannah full of lions or a pirate party ship on the high seas. I saw it as my “mom” duty to go ALLLLLL out for the sake of making those boys of mine feel special. I think I probably achieved that. If you asked my boys, they would most likely say that their birthdays were some of their favorite memories. However, the problem with all that Martha Stewart-ness is that each year I felt had to be better or equal to the year before and if it wasn’t, the boys felt cheated.
I don’t want to do that with Ila. I don’t want her to think that the only way one can feel special on a birthday is by partaking in a ginormous, thematic, disco-ball-spinnin’ party. And so, this year, I am going to put all that energy into a different type of special. This year, Ila, daddy and mommy will make the birthday cake together on the morning of her day. We will decorate it using princess things that have been chosen by Ila; like a laminated picture of a castle and a few figurines that are her favorite. We will go out to lunch with a most beloved grandma and papa to her best-loved restaurant and have pizza and sweet potato fries. We’ll come back and eat that cake that we made together with those who love her best; her biggest brother, (perhaps…if the wind is right…her 2nd biggest brother too), her grandma and Papa and her sweet Mare and Chris. We’ll keep it low key and let her open her presents, eat, chew, swallow, talk and repeat. She’ll open and read a letter from a faraway Kaitlin and go on a shopping spree courtesy of a gift card sent to her by a local toy store in honor of her momentous day. Later that night, Ila, her daddy and I will see a movie together, and when we tuck her into bed we’ll tell her, at the very end of her special day, how utterly extraordinary life is because she was born.
The earth won’t shatter. The sky won’t fall. All will be happy…well except for the scowling Martha Stewart over there in the corner! Don’t worry dear. There’s always NEXT year!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) William M Ferriter]