Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our daughter’s fifth birthday!
BUT, here’s the thing,
We didn’t, and we’re not going to, throw her a birthday party.
Not throwing her that Pinterest perfect party was something that made me feel incredibly guilty. I mean…it weighed on me like a ton of bricks!!! I had thought about it so much, about throwing her a party and how I was going to make this dream party happen for her, but as the weeks went by I realized that it just wasn’t in the cards. This choice was even harder when I began to compare this year to her previous birthdays and what we did to celebrate her big day. I told myself that I wouldn’t feel guilty about it and after a few hours and some serious introspect, I let it go.
And that was that.
Growing up, the majority of my early birthdays were spent around the dinner table with my family. After dinner, they would sing me the Happy Birthday song while I sat in front of a cake, either Betty Crocker or a purchased Safeway sheet cake. I didn’t care that it didn’t have a particular character on it or if it had tiers and fondant. It was a fucking cake, delicious surgary cake. I would blow out my candles, and then we would stuff our face with sugar while I opened my presents. It was perfect. It was all that I wanted. So I decided that this is what I would give my daughter this year and I don’t regret it.
Not one bit.
She woke up to balloons hanging from the ceiling like I always do the night before when she’s fast asleep. She woke up squealing with excitement, and then quickly began searching my favorite hiding spots for her birthday present. Once convinced that I had mastered my hiding skills and it would take more time than she cared for, she moved on. First, asking if we could eat her birthday cake for breakfast and when I said no she thought maybe I would budge and give her ice cream instead, and you can call me mean, but she didn’t get to eat ice cream either.
My husband got ready for work, and we proceeded to smother her with love. We rejoiced in the fact that she was OFFICIALLY FIVE YEARS OLD, a day that she had been looking forward to since the day she turned four.
Five was when she could start taking on more responsibility and earn an allowance. Five was when she “officially became a big kid,” and she could attend kindergarten in the fall. Five was halfway to ten, and it was one step closer to being an adult, something she has always looked forward to; she has big dreams that go along with her even bigger imagination. Yesterday was a significant milestone for her, and I knew this, but I still didn’t throw her a birthday party, and I don’t feel sorry for it.
This past year my family has gone through significant changes. One of those changes is that my husband no longer has to work away from home for weeks at a time and the majority of the year. A change that threw us for a loop; a great and magnificent loop.
No more missed holidays, camping trips, events, anniversaries, and the biggest thing of all, no more missing our baby girl’s birthday. It was something that we had been talking about and praying for since he began working as a Pipe Welder on the North Slope here in Alaska. His sacrifices and hard work laid a foundation and brought us blessing after blessing, but it was one of the hardest things we had to do as a couple and as parents. One of the things that matter most to us is being together as a family and him missing those birthdays gave us insight that leaves me forever grateful. I know what’s important and that’s us being together.
I’m sure many of you know when it comes to changing jobs and following different avenues, compromises and sacrifices have to come along with it. To us, bringing less money into our household and having to tighten our budget, is worth the time together. We have fourteen mouths to feed in our home: me, my husband, our daughter, two cats, two dogs, four chickens, and three fish. Making sure that they are happy and healthy is and will always be our number one priority. We live in a state with high expenses, but to us, it’s worth it because it comes with experiences that you can’t find anywhere else and now our schedules are busier than ever due to the changes.
I’m working on writing full time, slaying my mom and house duties, caring for those said fourteen mouths, and I also took up a night gig cleaning an office space to bring in some extra money. My husband is consistently working each week at his new job as an operations supervisor which he loves, while also working on his bachelors in project management and taking care of his girls full time. We’re working our asses off but after the holidays’ budgets are tighter than we had hoped. We’re working even harder on making sure that our daughter is happy and healthy; which, she will be even without that big extravagant party.
We still made sure that yesterday was special. While my husband was working, I spent the entire day catering to her and doing one activity after the next. She got to eat her favorite foods and play her favorite games. I even let her fry her brain watching whatever cartoons she wanted while serving her tomato soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, the girl was treated like a queen and I got to spend every minute with her.
When my husband came home, he brought in with him two pizzas, one pepperoni pizza for her and one not pepperoni pizza for us. I had just finished making homemade mac and cheese and opened a can of mandarin oranges, a meal she would have ordered if we went to Red Robin like she had hoped. I wasn’t running around the house like a mad woman cleaning and making sure that we weren’t missing anything. I wasn’t wracking my brain wondering if I had enough snacks or gift bags or that someone would show up well before I was ready, grungy and sweaty hair plastered to my forehead yelling at my husband to finish frosting cupcakes and hang up banners so that I could hurry up and shower. I focused on one thing and one thing only, my daughter, and I fucking loved it.
After we ate dinner, my husband and I went out to the garage to grab her Fred Myer’s Troll’s cake, ice cream, and present that she couldn’t find earlier. We harassed her and took a million pictures until her fake smile looked like she was forcing a fart. It was hilarious. We laughed, and then we sang her the Happy Birthday song, and I almost cried while watching her make a wish for the next year. Because we didn’t use our budget for a birthday party, we were able to buy her the Casio keyboard she had been asking for but didn’t get for Christmas. Watching how excited she was and hearing her scream “thank you!” cemented the belief that we had done the right thing and it was a perfect day for her too.
This year my husband and I decided to put aside this imaginary unspoken expectation and pressure that we should throw our daughter a birthday party where we would invite everyone we knew, and instead stayed within our limitations.
Now some of you may think, big freaking deal, so you didn’t throw your daughter a party, but as a mom with anxiety, it’s a big freaking deal to me. Everything can be the most significant of damn deals.
Also, I LOVE throwing her parties, don’t misunderstand me.
That’s why I don’t want this to come off as me telling others who throw those big Pinterest perfect parties that you’re wrong. That you’re somehow overdoing it or missing the point because heaven knows if I had the chance I would have done it this year.
I would have gladly of been a hot mess so that I could have thrown her a huge party, but that wasn’t and isn’t my point.
The point is, don’t make yourself go crazy by going over the top when you know you can’t. Don’t convince yourself that it’s worth using your credit cards and putting yourself in a situation you’ll regret and stress about down the road. Don’t feel like just because everyone else is throwing parties and sending you invites that you’re somehow locked into an agreement with having to do the same. Your friends and your family understand, trust me. If they don’t, tell them to kick rocks and forget to invite them to next years big extravaganza. I’m kidding. I’m kidding.
No matter if you’re throwing your child a huge party or if you’re keeping it low key just remember the most important thing, they’re going to love you no matter what and celebrating their life is what it’s all about. Even if they throw a fit, they’ll get over it come next week, I mean when do kids not throw fits. Am I right?
Your children can’t comprehend all the stress that we’re under and we shouldn’t add more weight to our plates because we feel guilty or ashamed. They might think that you’re the meanest mommy ever but help them understand, smother them with what matters, and move on. Love, smother them with love and affection.
If you can’t do everything that you want to do for your children right now on their birthday, don’t feel stressed. If you’re like me, an anxious people pleaser who overthinks everything, let it go and save yourself from that upset stomach and lack of appetite. Be honest with those you love and take it from me that in the end, you’ll be happy you did. Realize that no matter what you’re a good mom and your kids will look back on that day and love you regardless of how you celebrated it.