Friday, February 25, 2011

What Happened to Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Have birthday parties gone too far?

My mother always threw me the most amazing birthday parties and I made a vow to myself that I would do the same for my children. It wasn't always about how extravagant they were, but they were always meaningful and very creative. I am talking about themed slumber parties, murder mystery dinners (I was born at the end of October) that my friends still remember to this day.

My son is still in preschool and at this time (during my generation) most of the parties were held at home. Parents made a cake or bought one from the grocery store. We played table/board games, maybe pin the tail on the donkey, and just relaxed with friends and family. Now kids have formal invitations made and the parties are held at museums, "wee" gyms, and other venues. (I am guilty of this as well... but I love stationery). I am concerned that birthday parties are becoming another avenue for us to flaunt the things we do and don't have (a little "friendly" competition between parents and kids) and I wonder if we do all these great things before our kids turn double-digits, what are they going to expect? Lavish trips? Fancy cars? My son doesn't have another birthday until the Fall and he's already talking about who he wants to invite and what he wants as presents. (That's a whole other topic... the gifts/toys grow out of the control quickly.) I am guilty of having already booked the party, defined the guest list, invitations, etc and it's only February. (So what does that say about me?)

I love living in the Washington DC metro area and it has a lot to offer career wise and for families but there's a part of me that wishes I could raise my son with good old Midwestern values. I know that I can but then he won't keeping up with the "Baby Joneses".

Along with the awesome parties, my mother also told me not to have more children than I could take care of and that my hope for them should be that their life would be "better" than my own. But how do you define better? I already feel like I am not even half the parent my mother was/is and I am not sure if I will ever be. Sometimes I feel like the parties, sports, the play dates help me to feel like I am being a good mother because I feel guilty. Guilty that I didn't immediately embrace my motherly role. Guilty that I am a single mother. Guilty that I am not near family. Just plain guilty about everything so I fill myself and my son with stuff to mask it. (This blog is really helping me get to the bottom of my fears of being a mother.) I am terrified that I will fail because I don't like to fail. That somehow I will mess up my child and that's the last thing I would ever want to do.

I guess we will just throw another party...

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