In Defense Of Birthday Parties
I read a post on BlogHer last week about a mom who has no interest in throwing her kid a Pinterest-style birthday party. I’m not going to link to it directly since I’m not trying to criticize or start a fight with the author. You can easily find it if you want to read the original but the gist was this: “We do low-key parties. I sent some email invites and invited 2 friends and my kid had a super good time…” The part that came after those ellipses was unspoken by the author but was obvious in the comment section. It ranged from “…so planning a big, extravagant party is stupid” to “…so your way is a waste of time” to “…which makes me a better mom because I spent more time with my kid than you did because you were on Pinterest looking for ways to make cupcakes in a mason jar.”
WHOA WHOA WHOA. While I can agree with the premise of the original post (You don’t NEED matching place settings to have a nice birthday! Kids don’t really care!) I would like to register my extreme disagreement with the idea that throwing a Pinterest-inspired kid’s birthday party makes me anything except for someone who likes throwing parties.
I am not a better mom. I am not a worse mom. I am not a busier mom. I am not a slacker mom. I am not a more involved mom. I am not a mom who never plays on the floor with her kids. I am not interested in comparing my kid’s birthday party to your kid’s birthday party. YOU DO YOU. I am just doing something that makes me and my kid happy.
What’s that you say? This sounds just like everything else about parenting? Why yes, I believe you’re correct! Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, make your own baby food, baby-led weaning, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, organic sawdust filled diapers, daycare, preschool, homeschool, unschool, upside-down school, WHATEVER. The effort/non-effort you are willing to put into any of those things doesn’t have anything to do with me. Stop making it a comparison. If you hate it, don’t do it!
I swear to you – double-dog, pinkie-swear, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die-stick-a-thumbtack-in-my-eye swear – that when I bring my kid to your kid’s birthday party at Chuck E Cheese the ONLY thing I am thinking is “Hmmm…Will anyone notice if I eat 4 pieces of pizza?” I am grateful we were invited because it means my kid isn’t a total jerk. I am glad to be out of the house. I am EXTRA glad if there is store-bought cake, since we all know that’s really the best kind. I’ve been to birthdays ranging from 3 kids just hanging out to 30 kids and a bounce house and my kid had fun at all of them.
When I started this big, fancy birthday party thing for Evan’s 1st there WAS no Pinterest. It was the Stone Ages of party planning, where I had to rely on Google Image Search and my own brain. I didn’t even know about paper straws. But I started the planning ball rolling and it just…kept going. I liked it. It was fun, it kept me busy, it was a creative outlet I had been missing during that first hectic new-baby year. Evan REALLY enjoyed his birthday and I enjoyed the compliments. Now it’s become my Thing – birthdays, baby showers, Halloween, whatever – and I’m going to keep doing it as long as the kids are still excited about it. Although one day I’m sure we’ll do Chuck E Cheese – and this year we’re doing a store-bought cake too.
Whew. That was 400 words more than I was planning on writing and probably 600 words more than I actually needed.
TL:DR version – Parties are cool, do whatever you want.
If what you want is a vintage train themed party with an orange and blue color scheme, here’s what I’m planning for Evan’s 4th. I’ve bought about 75% of this already and I’m making/hunting down/crowd-sourcing the rest.