Sunday, October 21, 2012

Birthday Parties

Wow.  I just can't believe how little I've been able to blog lately.  Pitiful.  

I'll start with Harlie's birthday party yesterday.  I don't know what's wrong with me lately, but I am forgetting everything.  Things have been really busy, and I've been having a difficult time keeping up.  It doesn't help that I am a terrible "planner" of anything.  Other than Harlie's medical journey, of course.  I actually feel pretty good about myself in that department.  But, I guess that's what happens when you have to put all your energy (okay, most of it) in one place.  And I do think that's a pretty important place for me to focus on.  Harlie is counting on me!  

So, birthday parties... I'm just going to come out and say it... I hate 'em.  I'm really, really bad at planning them.  And I see lots of moms on FB sharing their awesome kids' birthday parties, and all the awesome hard work they clearly put into them.  All because they love their kids and they are really good moms.  The BEST party planner EVER is my friend, Susan.  And if she didn't live on the west coast, I would totally hire her to help me (do it for me) and call it a day.  You can see a glimpse of how talented she is here and here.  Susan, I hope you don't mind me bragging about you, but you are an amazing party planner!  

I see those pictures and think Harlie deserves that kind of celebration of her life.  There were a lot of months I wondered if we'd ever be able to celebrate a birthday for her.  I consider every day with her a bonus.  I think about her life and potential death more than I'd like to, I can promise you that!  So, shouldn't I be doing all that planning and decorating and stuff for her?!?!?  

But, I can't.  I just don't have it in me.  There's not enough time or energy (or talent, truthfully).  And frankly, I don't think she really cares.  It's hard to tell without her being able to talk to me and all.  So, let's just go with that she doesn't care, okay?

This year, I'm blaming my lack of planning ability on Harlie's jaw surgery.  It was August 24th, and between that and the start of school, I had to focus on other things.  Her birthday is September 25th, so I really would have started to plan before her surgery.  Which was only one month before her birthday - so even that's not a good excuse.  Plenty of people start planning way before that!  But, before that, all I could focus on was getting to Boston - healthy.  And then getting home healthy as soon as possible after that.  And, keep in mind that I had no idea what to expect as far as recovery time post-op.  And considering she would come home without a bone in her leg, I had no idea what kind of recovery that would be.  Who knew she'd be walking so well so soon???

Last year, we had her birthday party at the The Little Gym and we invited all the girls from her kindergarten class, plus some friends.  Since her birthday is right after the start of school, there's no way to know who her "friends" are/going to be.  So, I just invited all the girls.  It was a great way for them to get to know her and see her having fun and playing, just like them.  And she loves gymnastics.  It was also a great way for me to get to know some of the other parents in the class.  And it really went well.  It was a great group of girls in her class last year and I have to say that I miss them and their moms terribly this year.  

So, this year she missed the first week or so of school.  So, there was even less time for them to get to know each other.  Plus, remember that I was focused on Boston, right?  So, by the time I thought, "oh shit, I need to plan a birthday party!" the easiest thing to do was call The Little Gym again (the gym I wanted to go to has stopped doing parties for now) and the next available date was October 20th.  Awesome.  

Then, who to invite?  If I invited her friends (like from her Daisy troop) or our friend's children, plus her classmates, it would be way too much - too overwhelming and too expensive.  So, I focused on building relationships with her classmates.  Which, I still felt bad about because, what kid has a birthday party where you don't invite their "friends" but people you want your kid to be friends with?  I found the whole thing to be a difficult situation.  Seems everything is complicated.  Even when it shouldn't be.  

It also didn't help that our follow-up appointment in Boston was October 19th.  So, we flew up on Friday and then flew back Saturday morning (landed at 11:30am).  Also, as a bonus, Harlie threw up most of the way home on the flight.  More awesome.  I could tell she didn't feel good.  And she hasn't thrown up like that in years.  The flight was a little bumpy (but not the bumpiest we've experienced) so I didn't know if it was motion sickness, or if she caught a bug.  We really thought we were going to have to cancel the barely-planned birthday party!  

But, once we got her home and on non-moving ground, she appeared to be just fine.  So, the party was on.  

The party was at 4pm, and at 3pm, I realized I forgot all about goody bags.  And for the record, I HATE goody bags.  The parent that started that stupid trend should be shot, in my opinion.  Talk about an over-achiever!  So I sent Tom to the dollar store to get some puzzles and coloring books.  I am not going to buy anymore junk toys to put in bags.  I just did it - against my better judgment - for Cooper's "party", and I refuse to do it anymore.  There.  I'm done.  In fact, I talked to a mom at Harlie's party who said she doesn't do it - so I now know I'm not alone!  Power to the moms who say "NO MORE GOODY BAGS!"  Who's with me????

Once we got there, I realized we forgot candles for the cake.  And the camera.  Really?  I'm a mess sometimes.  So, I had to use my phone for pics and luckily, they had candles there.  

I'm guessing that those who know me, know I try my best and that I have things on my plate that are not the norm.  To cut myself some slack, if I didn't have to focus so much on which surgery needs to be done next and where it should be done, or which therapies to work in our schedule, etc. I would probably be a lot better at all this "normal" stuff.  But, when I go out into the world and people who don't know me see how forgetful I am, I can only imagine what they think about me and my crazy family.  

Here's the best picture I got with my phone.

And here's the funniest moment from the party...

Despite the craziness of the day, or of the last month, she did have fun.  And that's really all that matters.  And I think her friends had fun, too.  They got to play together.  So, to me, that's a success.  Plus, if you really want to get down to it, Murphy's party was like two months after his birthday, and Harlie's was only one, so that's an improvement.  Cooper's was less than two weeks after his birthday.  But, his kind of sucked....

And I never even blogged about his birthday!  Ugh!  His birthday is September 26th (the day after Harlie's).  Cooper wanted a party at a playground.  It's all he talked about.  So, that's what we planned.  Except it rained all that day.  So, we had to move it to our freaking house.  And the LAST thing I want to do is have to plan activities for a party I don't want to plan!  That's why the playground is perfect.  So, the party ended up being a "play date party."  It was all free-play.  No structured activities.  

I really felt crappy during and after that party.  And I was really beating myself up about it.  Then, the next day, out of the blue, Cooper said, "Mommy, I really had fun at my birthday party."  It wasn't even what he asked for - repeatedly, for months - and it had to be changed at the last minute due to bad weather.  And all I paid for was his cake, a single balloon for the mailbox, junk for some goody bags and the reservation for the stupid playground ($25) that we never used.  Yet, he was perfectly happy.  Isn't that amazing?  It just goes to show you that kids (at least my kids anyway) really need so much less than we think.  That's what I'm going with, anyway.  

Okay, I think the next post will be about our Boston trip.  Stay tuned!



Dara said...

So funny about the birthday parties, I thought you were talking about me! My baby turned 3 in Aug. and I barely bought her a cake. She was just happy with us singing to her about 4 times. And gift bags....I don't do them either. I am an underachiever when it comes to holidays too. My kids don't even seem to notice and I am sure your kids don't either.
Dara :)

Brittany said...

I think that you are exactly the right kind of party planner. We generally do glorified play dates with cake...the kids have a blast, it is easy for me (I don't have your very good reasons for not focusing on planning and yet I still throw my kids' parties together at the very last minute), and I feel good about not trying to keep up with the proverbial Joneses. I appreciate the gifts of folks who have a special talent for party planning, but I'm happy to be at a place where I don't feel down on myself for not being one of them. Cooper's party sounds like it was just right, as was Harlie's - well done, mom!

Ann said...

I'm with you .... NO goodies bags! So stupid to run around and fill them full of crap that just gets thrown away. I agree - shoot whoever started that trend.

You are too funny my friend. You spent the majority of this post explaining why you didn't have what you thought were not the "best" birthday parties for your kids when, in fact, we know you are the awesomest mom out there and you do what you can given all you have to do and there is no need to explain or justify anything to us - and, most importantly, no reason to feel the least bit guilty! Most of us can totally relate -- except of course, that SUSAN, who has the most amazing birthday parties ever! :)

Love ya' lots.

(a response to your email is forthcoming. Thanks so much for taking the time to pen out such a helpful email)

Susan said...

Christy, you are too funny! Remember when we talked on the phone? Even I told you it wasn't important to throw a fancy party. In fact if the child doesn't care, it's just silly to do it. Honestly I'm not sure how I got to throwing crazy parties and every year I hope my kids will choose to go somewhere else like a bouncy house or laser tag. They really love going to those kind of parties. The truth is that I always try to get out of it and then am scurrying around at the last minute cursing my way through the whole thing. So save yourself and keep things simple. And I think the playdate party is perfect for the younger kids. They both sound like great parties so stop berating yourself! I'm glad Harlie and Cooper both had a great time on their Birthdays.

Les Carter said...

You are correct, our kids really do need less than we feel it necessary to provide. It is us parents who want to appear as over achievers in the eyes of our children. Or other parents?