One of the many hats I wear as a stay at home mom is to act as my children’s (and let’s be honest, my husband’s) social events coordinator. Short of organizing limbo parties on the Lido Deck, Julie McCoy has nothing on me. I coordinate play dates, schedule sleepovers, sign up for various recreational and sporting activities, plan excursions to museums and theme parks, respond to invitations to parties, and follow up with thank you notes on behalf of my children to our hosts. But perhaps the Number-One-Biggest-Do-Not-Screw-This-Up-Or-I-Will-Be-Scarred-For-The-Rest-Of-My-Life-And-Perhaps-Turn-To-Narcotics-To-Cope social responsibility in my daughter’s young eyes is the planning and successful execution of her birthday party.
And I have to say, this year, I was weak…so, so weak. I let Sarah’s 6th birthday plans spiral out of control into a place that I have been dreading to go for many months now. Why months? Well, to say that Sarah likes to plan is like saying Charlie Sheen likes cocaine. She already has #7 and #8 mapped out. She had tomorrow’s upcoming birthday #6 set in stone sometime in early spring 2011. So basically, she has been wearing me down with party plans for about 10 months. Can you blame me for crumbling? I was utterly powerless against the strength of her determination, conviction, and organizational prowess.
It’s not that I begrudge anyone a party for their children. We are happy to celebrate with friends to mark the anniversary of their birth. But for the past three years, Sarah has had the big party with a dozen or so friends at various local institutions whose sole mission seems to be to create such a frenzy among the 5 and under set, that it basically turns your child into a social pariah if they too do not host a large and lavish party at said location. And as much as I love my child and her friends, I also love order, quiet, and sanity: not words often associated with a child’s birthday party. While some parents can revel and embrace the chaos, this is not a strength of mine as a mother. I’d almost rather be a contestant on Fear Factor than face a mob of children doped up on adrenaline and cake who will kick you in the shins if their demands for more ice cream, lemonade, pizza, or sugar are not met.
But as I said, I was weak. There will be no intimate soiree. No witty banter. No pride and joy. Instead, horror at the spectacle that I have no one to blame but myself for creating. Guest list? Too big. Budget? Definitely out the window. Potential for a massive migraine? Absolutely.
Now, my loving and supportive husband, whenever we need to discuss the party, always tacks on the phrase “I told you not to do this” to the end of his sentence. For example, “How many girls are coming…I told you not to do this.” “Will we have to wear pajamas too…I told you not to do this.” “How big of a cake will we need….I told you not to do this.”
So I am counting down till noon tomorrow, Central Standard Time. By then, all of this will be over. Sarah’s Pajama Party Brunch Extravaganza with twenty girls preparing and cooking their own meals (hot open surfaces and children…really, what was I thinking!?) will have come and gone and hopefully, I will remain standing and sober. And, I will recite over and over again between now and January 21, 2013, “I am stronger than Sarah. She is not the boss of me.” Perhaps if I say it enough, it will come true.