Once upon a time, mom's didn't plan the birthday party of a small child for months in advance. With the occasional exception of a special milestone birthday, a child's birthday was mostly a small affair: a special dinner, cake, a present or two and maybe a party with a handful of family and friends. If a party occurred, you may have seen a piñata or some candy bags and participated in a game or two. The most you would see in regards to a theme was matching cups, napkins, plates and a table cloth (maybe the piñata, if there was one.)
Fast forward to the age of Pinterest, where mommies laboriously begin planning birthdays months in advance, over stimulated by all the creative ideas to work into a theme. The days of matching paper goods have been replaced with full on affairs, often times complete with projects that take days (or weeks.) And these affairs aren't just for milestone birthdays, they are for every.single.birthday. As if raising a child in today's world wasn't difficult enough, now we are served up a heaping portion of "mommy guilt" if we don't plan and craft our wee ones' parties to be "Pinterest-worthy."
I say, no more.
No more guilt, no more pressure.
For the mommies who are uber-crafty and don't mind staying up all hours of the night to hand-make all the intricate crafts to go with the theme, more power to you! I have a sister-in-law who fits in this category. She now has 4 children and manages to throw beautiful children's parties, complete with all the details I would have never even considered (like when she threw a super hero themed party and painted a sheet to look like a city sky line for people to take "hero" pictures in front of.) But here's the thing about her, BEFORE she was a mom, she was totally crafty and loved doing all that stuff, it comes naturally to her. For me? Not so much. I am artistic and creative, but I wouldn't go so far as to consider myself crafty.
In the past, I tried to plan parties with a theme, but my efforts usually didn't go past the invitations, cake and an activity or two. This year, I started pinning away a few months in advance, with an idea in mind. Then, life happened. To make a long story short, my two boys shared their "party" on a weekend in between their birthdays. It had to be rescheduled due to rain and the morning of, on the way to the baseball game my oldest was playing that day, we stopped at the store, picked up a pre-made cake from the bakery (not specially ordered, but personalized with names) and some plates and napkins and *bam* my party preparations were over. Because of the chaos of schedules, barely anyone showed up. Seriously. You know what? My oldest told me it was his favorite birthday ever.
On the day of our boys' birthdays, we make a big stink about them. Cook them something special or take them out to eat, have dessert and they get a (small) present. We lavish them in love and sing happy birthday. At their party, we sang happy birthday, ate cake, let them open their couple presents and let them run around. In the days leading up to the party, as I was wallowing in "mommy guilt", I realized I wasn't feeling bad for my boys, I was feeling bad for me. My boys had a great time (as my oldest reiterated to me later.) They had sugar, presents and the freedom to run: it was everything they cared about.
Kids, at least in the young ages mine are (6 and 2), don't care about themes and decorations. They don't care about matching invitations and cutesy snacks with special names. Let's be honest, those things are really for us moms, so we can post the pictures on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest and bask in the glory of the comments and the shares.
So it is with this realization that I am bucking the trend. I will not be subject to worrying about the decorative details of a birthday party for a 3 year old that no one will likely remember in 20 years (unless they see pictures.) I will not lose another minute of sleep staying up late to work on invitations or goody bags. I will not stress and ruin the day because I am measuring myself to the fantasy world of Pinterest.
Instead, I will worry about providing my children with the things that will make them feel special on their day: hugs, kisses, birthday songs and plenty of love. If I lose sleep, it will be because I am taking care of the child I am raising day by day, year by year. I will measure myself against the perceptions of my child, in whose eyes I am rocking this party thing.
To all you moms who have beat yourselves up as failures because you didn't ace the party theme like your neighbor/sister-in-law/friend/Pinterest board, I am calling on you to join me against the insanity. Let's worry more about showing our children love and less about getting likes. Let's bring children's parties (and childhood in general) back to the simple things of cake and fun, because that is all they really care about.
And to all you crazy, crafty moms out there who are going to keep raising that bar higher and higher: keep on crafting if it brings you joy! I love looking at your pictures and ideas, but I won't be measuring myself to them anymore.