From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWBP (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @ThereWillBePoo.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my plans for Baby’s first birthday party. You know how I said I’d been known to freak out and run around like a giant stress ball before parties? Well, that tradition continues.
It wasn’t entirely my fault this time. I baked the cupcakes and assembled the favor bags all in advance. I got my crockpot spinach and artichoke dip simmering and went for a run (And no one was chasing me! I just did it. But don’t expect it to happen again.)
The morning was off to a good start, and I was pretty sure I could get everything done on time. Three hours before the party, I went downstairs to my building’s common room, which I had reserved. It was a mess.
The trashcans were overflowing and there were crumbs and pointy, baby-lacerating kabob sticks on the floor. Did I freak out? Of course not! I calmly tracked down the weekend cleaning crew and just asked them to do a quick once over. I wasn’t able to start setting up on time, but I didn’t stress, not this mom!
The babysitter was scheduled to come at noon, an hour before the party, to help set up and wrangle Baby. At 12:05, I started to get concerned. It wasn’t freak out time yet, but I still needed to jump in the shower and finish setting up. Husband was on the longest ice/beer run known to man. I texted the babysitter. Nothing. Finally I jumped in the shower, with Baby of course, and the chaos began. Baby didn’t approve of me showering; she showed her frustration by slipping and bumping her head. Then the babysitter called to apologize profusely. She had gotten the day wrong and wasn’t even in town.
Well, you can imagine how it went from there.
I have wonderful friends who didn’t mind decorating upon their arrival at the party. It only took about 15 minutes with everyone pitching in, but I was frazzled. The cupcakes didn’t get iced with my cute Martha Stewart design, there was no relaxing, baby-appropriate music playing in the background and I felt like I was ignoring Baby at her own birthday party. At least we had wine.
A lot of things went right. The baby zone was a good place to let the kids play, and we had toys and beach balls to distract them. The food was simple, but tasty and kid-friendly. The mylar balloons looked cute and all the kids got a little favor bag.
But I felt like I didn’t get to relax and play with Baby and talk to our friends without worrying about how everything was coming together. The pictures are cute and everyone looks like they’re having a good time. But there was no singing of happy birthday to Baby and no pictures of her smashing a cupcake.
Like she cares.
I know it isn’t about me and I shouldn’t worry about silly, unimportant things like cupcake frosting. It’s just that I had tried so hard to plan ahead and make sure it was a stress free event where I could focus on Baby and celebrating with our friends. And I had a very specific picture in my head of how everything should look.
I blame Pinterest.
An article by April Perry, “Your Children Want You”, reminded me of what I already knew. Baby doesn’t care about handmade seasonal centerpieces or sandwiches cut to resemble pirates. She cares about playing with me and Husband at the park, and reading stories before bedtime.
So instead of trying to make Baby’s Halloween costume myself, or making bloodshot eyeball cake pops, and creating spider web designs on the windows with black tape, I ordered baby doctor scrubs and I’ll pick up a bag of candy at Safeway. With the time I save I’ll take Baby to the dog park to watch the “dahs” and give her a bubble bath. It doesn’t take too much time to figure out which she’ll prefer.