Monday, January 9, 2017

In Praise of the Small Celebrations

We're not doing the big birthday party thing this year. 

We're not. At all. 

I just read a post about a mom who said that and still rented her kids a hotel to have a party sleepover in. Don't get me wrong, I don't do sleepovers, so having that in a hotel when they are teens sounds like a good idea. But that is totally a  BIG birthday party. 

Now, the kids will still have presents-we try really hard to get them what they want each year and spend a great deal of time choosing the best thing. Still making a cake/cookie/brownie/lasagna-made-of sugar or whatever you want birthday treat. 

But the party stuff can go to hell. I tried, I did. We spent too much on reservations, messed up our schedules and ended up in almost DANGEROUSLY crowded play spaces to accommodate other people our kids loved being there on their messed up schedules. 

#$%* that. 

We HAVE to be better about saving money. And that isn't a bad thing for the kids to learn. A simple cake at home on a special day and gifts nixes that $50.00-$23,410,948,098.52 dollar party reservation and party food and party favors. 

Also, being the parent of a neurologically diverse set of kids means sometimes their peers are not great to them. I hate seeing their feelings get hurt over birthday invitations. We have a lovely set of friends who strove every single year to make sure they always had people who loved them around and holy hell do I appreciate all of that in ways I can't even find words for. But they do the same thing for our holidays, and that shouldn't be on them entirely x3 a year plus. My kids have to know they are loved even without big birthday gatherings and tons of gifts. Love is far more than that, and they have REAL love in their lives from these people and their children. 

My youngest also can become very shy, and hates crowds. Not a good mix. 

I think it also redistributes real world expectations. I don't want them to feel like they didn't do the right thing if they don't want to show up for that big house party. Small celebrations make it okay to have small celebrations. 

And honestly? Party planning is stressful. Not planning for our friends, but the kids at school who might show up, who might not, and standing around with other parents I don't really know is stressful. I would rather be at the dentist. I don't want my kids growing up thinking parenting is this exercise in sacrificing everything that makes you comfortable or happy in life for your child. I'm not a mothering expert, but I know that is a bad recipe. And it's not a path I'd want them on. As near as I can tell, parenting is balancing bringing these small people into your life with YOUR life and finding the real joys in that...

So, a cake at home with presents and then if it is possible-inviting other kids they love to do a free (usually outdoor) activity like a park date- with no expectations of them having to bring more gifts- is what we are doing this year. No more big #$%*ing parties. Just small celebrations and laid back expectations. 

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