Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good Enough Mom; Good Enough Birthday Party

Sayer’s birthday is coming up and one of the first things I did after I returned home from my trip was to confirm plans for his party. So, I sat down with H, the aquatics and party coordinator at our health club. As we went over the list of logistics, it struck me how much more easygoing I am about this party than I was when my older son, Jacob, was younger.

This time, when H asked me if I wanted a pirate or sports themed table cloth, or just a color, I didn’t give much thought and said “Sayer likes red; make the table cloth and balloons red.” My next thought was “I’ll go to the dollar store and get some kind of plates with a theme – or not.” I laughed and told H that I have been planning birthday parties for 14 years and by this point, I tend to just go with the flow.

Becoming a Good Enough Party Planner is an accomplishment for me. Among Dan and Jacob, I am notorious for going overboard in party planning. Although Jacob doesn’t remember his party when he turned two, Dan has never let me live it down. We were living in Kansas City at the time, and it was late July. Late July in Kansas City is VERY hot and humid.

For reasons that escape me now, I decided to have a “treasure hunt party.”I bought plastic treasure chests and wrote each kid’s name on it. Then I got dozens, well maybe hundreds, of plastic coins and favors and hid them in the sand box. Each kid got to hunt in the sand box for the hidden treasure [OK, junk from China], and put the treasures into their personalized treasure box, which had a little key and all.

What was I thinking? For two year olds? They were probably more interested in eating sand than gathering coins. Looking back, my primary recollection is of steamy air pressing down on our porch, with me oozing with sweat and wondering “Why aren’t we inside with our air conditioning?” Don’t even ask how the ice cream cake held up.

We moved from Kansas City to the Northwest a few years later, and whenever anyone asks why I tell them that we couldn’t stand the weather – the dreadful summers and bitter cold winters. And then I add, “For example, we had this birthday party and it was like a sauna ---.” On the plus side, the boy who moved into our house probably found surprises in the sandbox for years to come.

Fast forward to today. Jacob no longer has parties, and I think the years of Sayer’s parties are dwindling – I hope so; we’re running out of ideas. Nowadays, I don’t care much about the party’s theme. I am more concerned with insuring that the needs of Sayer’s friends will be met - such as arranging locker room logistics for boys who need their mom’s help to get changed. I no longer sweat the small stuff – neither literally nor figuratively. But, I admit, I will undoubtedly go to the Dollar store for party favors. Just ONE per guest – oh, but I have to figure in siblings. Old habits do die hard!

Does anyone have any birthday party stories - horror or not -to share? I'd love to hear them. To read more about the "Good Enough Mother" idea, check out the web site Rene Syler, of Good Morning America: Good Enough Mother: A refuge for the perfectly imperfect mother. Rene has also written a book, Good Enough Mother: The perfectly imperfect book of parenting. I've seen it at the library but haven't read it. I guess that makes me a perfectly imperfect blogger.


ByJane said...

My mom used to plan similarly elaborate birthday parties for me. I think she may have had a much fun in the planning as we kids had in the having. One catastrophe that I do remember was the year I was seven. She didn't make my birthday cake that year, but bought a fancy carousel themed cake. Seque to candles lit, kids singing happy birthday to jane, roof of carousel catching fire, mom heaving flaming cake onto lawn. The cake was still good, though, albeit a tad grassy.

Carol said...

I can just imagine it. I bet your guests remembered that long after thoughts about the party games or favors!