Growing up, I was surround by a big family and birthday parties were simple. Everyone came over, we opened gifts, had dinner, ate cake and enjoyed the company. It was always fun, special and undemanding. Now, with the world of Pinterest and keeping up, parties are on a whole different level - especially kids parties.
For the past 5 years, I tried very hard to make the boys birthday parties extra special. I felt driven by a kind of guilt and sadness knowing I wouldn't be able to give them birthdays surrounded by all of our extended family and friends like I used to have when I was little. When you live far away from everyone things are inevitably different. I spent hours hand-making special decorations. I pushed myself to make all the food special, on theme and cute. I planned far in advance to make sure all my party ducks were in a row for the big day.
When you live with a chronic illness, all the planning and pushing yourself comes at a price, no matter how much you try and pace yourself. Trust me, I love Pinterest as much as the next person, but I realized something very important this year- all the extra things I was pushing myself to do really didn't matter in the end. Nobody really cared about all the cute details as much as I did, and it always felt like a let down that all them effort I put in was under-appreciated. I love seeing photos of beautifully planned celebrations with special touches- and if you are healthy, able and have a talent for it I think it's amazing... but I can't do it anymore.
For Nathan's party this year we went to the store and got all pre-made decorations, and we didn't get all they had, we chose a few favorite things. We used left over streamers from last year, and I let him put up most of it early. It had been such a difficult month for me with so many migraines stacked on top of each other that I had zero time to plan or even think about any extra special decorations. I thought about baking cookies, but didn't. I planned on baking a cake, but he decided he wanted ice cream cake (I have a homemade ice cream cake recipe, but there was no way I was going to make it.) I chopped up some fruit, laid out store bought cookies and warmed up the most basic cheese dip.
This was the least ready I have ever felt for a party. I was wrapping Nathan's gifts 10 minutes before his friend showed up. And that is another thing, I didn't let him have a big party. He picked two friends to invite and only one could make it. It was perfect! They had a blast and Jeremy and I enjoyed spending time with our friends too. The whole afternoon I felt relaxed and the party pressure that I had been self-inflicting disappeared. I will never party the same way again, and it is such a relief! I'm not saying that I will never make a cute decoration or treats again...I am saying that I will not place the unnecessary pressure on myself to complete things that don't make or break the party. The kids played, we had dinner, opened gift, had cake and enjoyed the company. We got back to the roots of what made the parties from my childhood so special and I plan to continue that tradition.