Monday, January 24, 2011

A Piece of Cake

For my son’s first birthday, everyone told me to go big! My husband and I invited all of our immediate family, close friends, and especially our friends with kids. We assumed this was the norm and so while almost 70 people felt overwhelming at some points leading up to and after the day, along with all the other things we didn’t know about parenting, we assumed this is what everyone did. So as our little one’s birthday passed, and first birthday’s of our friends children neared, and invitations to said parties did not appear, I started to become embarrassed that I had perhaps over invited, and that having a small tribe was not the norm. After chatting with some of my mom friends, whose parties we were not invited to, I heard that a lot of them did small, family only parties. Wait a second? Where were all these people while I planned my three ring circus?

So as I began planning my son’s smaller, more intimate celebration for his upcoming second birthday, I am now at a cross roads because my mailbox has begun to fill up with invitations for second birthday parties. Am I getting the invite because I extended the invite the first time, and this is a courtesy? Or should spare my friends the trouble of attending my son’s birthday party this year and not invite them—keeping it small. Or will it be considered rude if I do not include my friends and their children?

One of my closest friends, with a child just older than mine, recently told me this year she held a small, family only celebration. However, recently another friend said, “so are you going to do two parties again like you did for your son? That was so nice…” “HUH?” Is that I thought to myself. Did we not make the cut? And if so, does that mean she doesn’t want to be on the short list for our intimate gathering? I had planned to include her family, but does this mean she would rather not, or are we not as close as I thought we were? Or am I reading too much into something that just isn’t that big of a deal?

My son’s birthday party has inadvertently sprung up a host of issues and insecurities for me. It’s made me wonder about my friendships, grumble about not getting to the big house project we had hoped to tackle a few months ago…in my mind making my home less complete for the celebration, and of course struggle with how my usual full-time working mom issues. If I want to “do it all,” how much am I expected to do myself, and what is okay to be outsourced. By outsourcing, am I being neglectful because I won’t be able to say “I baked your cake…” one day or am I demonstrating that I can get it all done in my own way?

His birthday party also brings up insecurities about my own body image because it is another year, that if I don’t lose some more weight in the next 5 weeks, that a few people may look at me wondering if I’m at the end of my first trimester…which I am not.

As I prepare to send out invitations, I can’t help but wonder how other mamas handle their children’s birthday parties and if I missed this chapter in the “What to Expect…” book? Mamas, tell me, what did you do?


  1. I say you do what makes you and your husband happy and not worry about anyone else. Your son has no clue what's going on, your friends won't remember...I really wanted to have a fun celebration for my sons 1st birthday so we had one. My personal feeling is life is too short to not celebrate but that doesn't mean every day or birthday needs a big party. Really think it needs to be about whatever will make the day most special to you. As my husband constantly reminds me - no one else really cares!

  2. As I had mentioned in another post I wrote, we invited about 60 people (including kids) to Marlo's first birthday party in December. That party ended up being canceled due to our family all having the dreaded stomach virus that was going around.

    I must say that the weeks leading up to it I was more nervous than I had been in a long time. I spent every day thinking about the party and buying decorations, and doing things to the house, and making things, and researching online, etc. I was driving myself crazy - which my friends honestly told me thankfully. But when I do things, I like to do them up, and bigger and better than anyone else. That is just how I roll...

    I have many friends with kids the same age as Marlo and I would say about 50% of them did big parties for their kids 1st birthdays, but some chose to do simple family affairs we weren't invited to of course.

    It is hard because we have so many friends, with kids around the same age as Marlo, I can't not invite a large group of people. It is either the 3 of us, or 60 of us when it comes down to it....