Friday, August 12, 2011

The Birthday Expectation




When my son (first child) had his first birthday, I wanted the whole family and friends group to all be there to celebrate and bask in his one year birthday.  To celebrate HIM and his birth and his existence and to have them all be a part of it.  I was a new mom and there seemed to be nothing more important to me than cherishing my child..and I thought that the way to do that was to put all my effort to make that day special.

Since then, I have hosted and been to probably a hundred birthdays...or so it seems..  The work of putting it together, the money spent on food and gifts...I really don't want to know how it all adds up!  And now my kids "expect" something very special each year...

When I was growing up, I think I had 4 parties total..and one of those was with one friend eating ice cream.  Simple.

Sometimes a little disappointing..but simple.

The baby/toddler parties were usually at people's homes. That wasn't so bad..socializing with friends and family while basking in our little ones while they play together..Sometimes they were small parties, but sometimes they were quite large too--

But, then there came the parties at the play-gym type places..  The worst for me was at Chuck E Cheese..the pizza made me feel nauseous!  Many of these places were loud..and the kids were running around everywhere and it was hard to keep track of my own kids..  My kids have loved it there, though (and all the other places too)..  (-;

But, now the problem is the expectations of my own kids..and the idea that you make big parties if you love your kids, and you attend the other parties, because you love your kids and want to support your friends' kids..and show your love..by going and by "buying" presents and throwing big bashes.

I am afraid of disappointing...my kids..having them think I don't care enough to go all out.  And afraid of disappointing other people by not always attending all the parties every year.

It is a gopher wheel I'm not sure how to get off of.  And it not only costs hundreds of dollars, but it also costs a lot of time...Many a weekend has been taken over by attending (and hosting) these parties.

Seems to me, there are other ways to "show the love" other than through a "materialistic form of consumerism"  LOVE = BUY

I have had this gut feeling for quite awhile now..and each year I attempt to simplify the parties I host for my kids.  One year we took a couple of my son's friends to a fishing pond.  This past year, we went to a local beach on the river and only invited 3 families.  And my husband and I decided to only host or attend adult birthdays for ourselves and other friends every 5 years.  (with some flexibility)  (-;  

Simple and Small and in Moderate Frequency

"I love you very much and I actually want to spend time with you on your birthday and give you attention...rather than entertaining a huge lot of guests or giving you a ton of gifts"..because those parties make me grumpy...and stressed...and they just don't feel right!  

The consumerism culture...seems to eek into everything pure...wanting us to associate love and self worth with love and appreciation..  I don't want my children's birthdays to be tainted with that any more..  (I may not have a complete choice, because the expectations are there. already from what I have done for them in the past and what they see their friends parties are like...  

"I want a PlayGym birthday too"

Anyway...  I actually haven't heard anyone really complain about it much, but in my gut it feels wrong...and it is all around us...  Birthday parties every weekend for some folks..  Sometimes there is a weekend of birthday party hopping...sometimes there are 2-3 birthday parties to go to in one weekend!  (talk about OD on sugar!)

And usually my kids have a great time, but when they come home, they "melt down" from the let down of the excitement and sugar...and then they are bored..want to be entertained..want the over stimulation or feel jealous of the toys.. Real life isn't quite as super-real exciting as one of those Bday parties.

I don't wish to alienate anyone who enjoy this or believe in this or who do this because of all of sincerity..they feel it is the right thing to do..  Enjoy it (or)..

A parent can feel a lot of GUILT..for not doing it..  hosting and attending..

seems like a trap..  

Seems like there could be a different way of showing love and appreciation for our children and support our friends and family members without having it tainted by "Consumerism"

I came across this article today and it made me happy.  Perhaps we can band together for ideas in finding many more creative ways to celebrate our most precious souls--in a way that gives dignity to their birth and their being alive and reaching milestones..

Good Enough Birthday:

http://thehappiestmom.com/?p=1887

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