Birthday party angst

by DaniGirl on February 22, 2006 · 22 comments

in Uncategorized

I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be one of those mothers who frets endlessly over her children’s birthday parties – or, in our case, lack thereof.

Does a four year old really need a party? Granted, he had a party last year, but does that mean I am indentured to commit a party every year? And his brother has passed two birthdays without a party – the guilt is starting to get to me. Because I am turning out to be one of those mothers who gets obsessive about relatively equal treatment of each kid.

Of course we will celebrate the day. There will be balloons, there will be presents, there will inevitably be a Thomas the Tank Engine cake, because he has been requesting one every time the subject of any kind of bakery goods has come up for at least the past six months. (So much so, in fact, that when we attended the first birthday party of our favourite baby girl last weekend, he was astonished that the cake would be neither the Thomas nor Wiggles variety.)

But does there have to be a posse of sugar-poisoned preschoolers smushing cheesies into my already-abused carpet? Do I have to shell out $200 to some clever business for the pleasure of letting the kids smear cheesy fingerprints into their fixtures – be it gymnastics, indoor climbers, or a favourite local museum?

And who do I invite? He’s four, he doesn’t have a massive social circle of potential invitees. He’s got a few friends at daycare, but I only know the parents in a “Oh hello, nice weather we’re having, eh? Oops, is my car blocking you in? Just pass me that boot over there and we’ll be out of your way” kind of passing. If I invite the kid, I’d expect the parent would want to come along to supervise, and the idea of politely hosting a room full of strangers for two hours while my kids go insane on hot dogs and hype is far from my ideal way to spend an afternoon.

And there’s the whole minefield of kids you don’t like. I have to admit, there are a couple of kids in his social circle that I’d just as soon not have him spending any more time with than absolutely necessary. This will probably be even more of an issue when he goes off to school, and I know I’m going to have to learn to deal with it, but for now if I can avoid bad influences I will.

The other alternative is to invite a bunch of our friends over, and let their kids play with my kids while we grownups have a great time. I like this alternative a lot, but it makes it a lot more about me than about Tristan, and my birthday isn’t until August. (But you can bet I’ll be getting a Thomas cake.) And the booze would probably cost more than renting a party place for the preschoolers.

In the end, we’ve decided to let him spend a day with one of his best friends, my cousin’s son. We’ll make it a fun day, maybe including his first cinematic experience. We’ll have dinner with my folks, and prezzies and cake, and it will be a fun day.

But I’m still feeling guilty, worried that he’ll someday be telling a therapist that he had blissfully perfect life, right up until he didn’t get a party for his fourth birthday…


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nancy February 22, 2006 at 1:57 pm

Do you remember your fourth birthday?

2 nancy February 22, 2006 at 1:57 pm

Do you remember your fourth birthday?

3 SilverCreek Mom February 22, 2006 at 2:05 pm

I too go through the guilt. BUT I don’t think Miranda had a FRIENDS PARTY till she was 5 and in school and then it was a hassel. Although she hasn’t had a party now in 2 years. Not interested in them. Thank God.
Now Nathan has had family birthdays (which means tons of his cousins and there is lots) except for one year he asked when his friends Colin and Grant were coming for his birthday…I think he was 3…OMG the guilt was huge so I quickly called the parents and got them here. But he had seen Miranda’s party and wanted his friends here.
Honestly, I don’t Do the gym thing or the movie thing, or the McD’s thing, or anything else. Luckly both kids birthdays are in the summer so they play outside have hotdogs and cake and have a blast and go home after 2 hours. All I can handle.
I think your party for Tristan is just fine. Less fighting and more fun. Hummm maybe a movie with a kids of Nathan’s choice would be a good idea. less work too.
Good luck and back away from the mom guilt.

4 SilverCreek Mom February 22, 2006 at 2:05 pm

I too go through the guilt. BUT I don’t think Miranda had a FRIENDS PARTY till she was 5 and in school and then it was a hassel. Although she hasn’t had a party now in 2 years. Not interested in them. Thank God.
Now Nathan has had family birthdays (which means tons of his cousins and there is lots) except for one year he asked when his friends Colin and Grant were coming for his birthday…I think he was 3…OMG the guilt was huge so I quickly called the parents and got them here. But he had seen Miranda’s party and wanted his friends here.
Honestly, I don’t Do the gym thing or the movie thing, or the McD’s thing, or anything else. Luckly both kids birthdays are in the summer so they play outside have hotdogs and cake and have a blast and go home after 2 hours. All I can handle.
I think your party for Tristan is just fine. Less fighting and more fun. Hummm maybe a movie with a kids of Nathan’s choice would be a good idea. less work too.
Good luck and back away from the mom guilt.

5 Shannon February 22, 2006 at 2:09 pm

The birthday rule in my house is ages 1,5,10,13,16and 18 get a big birthday party, the other ages are just small familyparties of cake and Ice Cream. With four kids it helps alot with trying to prepare.

6 Shannon February 22, 2006 at 2:09 pm

The birthday rule in my house is ages 1,5,10,13,16and 18 get a big birthday party, the other ages are just small familyparties of cake and Ice Cream. With four kids it helps alot with trying to prepare.

7 alliemom February 22, 2006 at 2:16 pm

Having recently celebrated my Diva’s 4th birthday, I feel obligated to respond ๐Ÿ™‚ We went all out this year and although she had a great time, I wonder if it was really worth all the $$$ and planning. She has even requested a “small” party at home next year. Don’t fret Dani. You’ll have plenty to feel guilty about for the next 40+ years! LOL

8 alliemom February 22, 2006 at 2:16 pm

Having recently celebrated my Diva’s 4th birthday, I feel obligated to respond ๐Ÿ™‚ We went all out this year and although she had a great time, I wonder if it was really worth all the $$$ and planning. She has even requested a “small” party at home next year. Don’t fret Dani. You’ll have plenty to feel guilty about for the next 40+ years! LOL

9 andrea from the fishbowl February 22, 2006 at 2:19 pm

We have a rule. Your age = the number of guests who can come to the party.
Sarah will have 5 friends in April. Emma will have 7 in May.
Once we get to bigger numbers we will (a) move the party out of the house i.e. perhaps a pool party at the local rec centre ? and (b) reduce the gifting. Really! I think it’s a bit much… this sudden influx of Barbies and beads etc that happens every year.
Even when the kids were 4 we did small parties with cake and carrot sticks. Parents were told they could just drop their children off and come back in 90 minutes. It was fine… just like a big playdate. We learned early that traditional party games didn’t work – what with their lack of attention spans – and that all they wanted to do was play with all the toys. End of story! ๐Ÿ™‚

10 andrea from the fishbowl February 22, 2006 at 2:19 pm

We have a rule. Your age = the number of guests who can come to the party.
Sarah will have 5 friends in April. Emma will have 7 in May.
Once we get to bigger numbers we will (a) move the party out of the house i.e. perhaps a pool party at the local rec centre ? and (b) reduce the gifting. Really! I think it’s a bit much… this sudden influx of Barbies and beads etc that happens every year.
Even when the kids were 4 we did small parties with cake and carrot sticks. Parents were told they could just drop their children off and come back in 90 minutes. It was fine… just like a big playdate. We learned early that traditional party games didn’t work – what with their lack of attention spans – and that all they wanted to do was play with all the toys. End of story! ๐Ÿ™‚

11 andrea from the fishbowl February 22, 2006 at 2:21 pm

p.s. I am still waiting for my own birthday party. Perhaps this year 34 people could show up, along with food and bottles of wine.

12 andrea from the fishbowl February 22, 2006 at 2:21 pm

p.s. I am still waiting for my own birthday party. Perhaps this year 34 people could show up, along with food and bottles of wine.

13 Janet February 22, 2006 at 2:26 pm

I agree with Nancy (when do you start to remember your parties) and Shannon (decide in advance which years are the big ones) on this.
Our #1 son is turning 5 in a few weeks, so he’s having a “big” party (13 kids) this year. The next big one won’t be until he’s 10. In the past, we’ve had a few kids, pizza and cake at the house. We always recognize the day, but without going overboard.
I completely agree with the ridiculousness of the $200 indoor playgound party thing, and will try to avoid it at all costs.
At the end of the day, the kids will have fun as long as there’s cake and friends to play with. They have no idea about how much things cost, and as long as the day is about them, I just don’t think you can go wrong. The rest comes down to parental competitiveness, in my opinion.

14 Janet February 22, 2006 at 2:26 pm

I agree with Nancy (when do you start to remember your parties) and Shannon (decide in advance which years are the big ones) on this.
Our #1 son is turning 5 in a few weeks, so he’s having a “big” party (13 kids) this year. The next big one won’t be until he’s 10. In the past, we’ve had a few kids, pizza and cake at the house. We always recognize the day, but without going overboard.
I completely agree with the ridiculousness of the $200 indoor playgound party thing, and will try to avoid it at all costs.
At the end of the day, the kids will have fun as long as there’s cake and friends to play with. They have no idea about how much things cost, and as long as the day is about them, I just don’t think you can go wrong. The rest comes down to parental competitiveness, in my opinion.

15 Ingrid February 22, 2006 at 3:39 pm

I have managed , through 3 children, to resist the super expensive flashy party themes. After all, isn’t a birthday party about feeling special, and celebrating it with those you’re close to, not about trying to out do everyone else.
When my older 2 reached about 10, I tried to get them away from parties (which had always been at home), and we pared it down to 1 or 2 friends for a movie, or dinner out (nowhere fancy) followed by a sleep over and a nice breakfast at home. Quality time is way more relaxing, I find.
Poor child #3 didn’t have a friend party until he turned 4, and then we couldn’t get our act together to actually host it until 2 months after his birthday. He doesn’t appear to be suffering, I think.
Hard to believe Tristan’s going to be 4!!

16 Ingrid February 22, 2006 at 3:39 pm

I have managed , through 3 children, to resist the super expensive flashy party themes. After all, isn’t a birthday party about feeling special, and celebrating it with those you’re close to, not about trying to out do everyone else.
When my older 2 reached about 10, I tried to get them away from parties (which had always been at home), and we pared it down to 1 or 2 friends for a movie, or dinner out (nowhere fancy) followed by a sleep over and a nice breakfast at home. Quality time is way more relaxing, I find.
Poor child #3 didn’t have a friend party until he turned 4, and then we couldn’t get our act together to actually host it until 2 months after his birthday. He doesn’t appear to be suffering, I think.
Hard to believe Tristan’s going to be 4!!

17 Suzanne February 22, 2006 at 5:44 pm

How timely! I’ve just returned from putting down a deposit on my son’s 4th birthday party (to be held at a local indoor playground). He’s had only family parties before this, and since he’s in preschool this year I thought it would be fun to have a kids-only affair. So we’ll be inviting the boys from his class (7 of them) and having pizza and cake. Not too expensive, and I don’t have to deal with the stress of having all those kids in my house.
I’m sure Tristan will have a great time — it sounds like you have a fun day planned.

18 Suzanne February 22, 2006 at 5:44 pm

How timely! I’ve just returned from putting down a deposit on my son’s 4th birthday party (to be held at a local indoor playground). He’s had only family parties before this, and since he’s in preschool this year I thought it would be fun to have a kids-only affair. So we’ll be inviting the boys from his class (7 of them) and having pizza and cake. Not too expensive, and I don’t have to deal with the stress of having all those kids in my house.
I’m sure Tristan will have a great time — it sounds like you have a fun day planned.

19 Sugarmama February 22, 2006 at 9:12 pm

Damn, Nancy! ‘Nuff said!

20 Sugarmama February 22, 2006 at 9:12 pm

Damn, Nancy! ‘Nuff said!

21 Tara February 22, 2006 at 9:50 pm

hey dani, i too am going thru much momma guilt. My aaron will be 4 in march and i laso can’t wrap my head around inviting strangers and their drama to my gig either. We will have a family party also this year, cousins only – believe me its enough theres 12 including my own 4. Your doing the right thing, besides family brings better prezzies. Love your blog, missed u this last visit to ottawa, your dad looked good.

22 Tara February 22, 2006 at 9:50 pm

hey dani, i too am going thru much momma guilt. My aaron will be 4 in march and i laso can’t wrap my head around inviting strangers and their drama to my gig either. We will have a family party also this year, cousins only – believe me its enough theres 12 including my own 4. Your doing the right thing, besides family brings better prezzies. Love your blog, missed u this last visit to ottawa, your dad looked good.

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