Friday, March 5, 2010

I Need A Relaxation Massage

Though Matthew's official birthday is now behind us, his big party is yet to come...tomorrow!  And though I'm trying to keep it pretty low key, this thing is stressing me out.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but planning birthday parties is neither my forte nor my interest.  Love, love kids, but really don't like birthday parties.  I really wish sometimes that we could just do a cake at home, and call it a day - maybe we'll get to that point soon!

But...sigh...that isn't going to happen this year.  I just need to be stressed out and get this done, I guess.  In my panic, I emailed a friend on Sunday (thanks Kate!), who is Ms. Party Extraordinaire, and I asked (pleaded??) for her ideas for the upcoming birthday party.  She was kind enough to send back a whole paragraph of ideas, several of which I'm trying, hopefully not in futility, to activate.  I, like, totally envy Kate her kids-party-throwing ability - she is unbelievably creative with a theme (and on a budget, too) and seems genuinely non-stressed by the idea of throwing a party...and she has five young kids to throw parties for every year.  She should be in this as a business.  I need her to be in this business.  Because, unfortunately for both me and my offspring, I have no ability whatsoever to understand how someone's brain works like Kate's (ok, that's really awkward grammar, but you get the point).  I think the words 'birthday party' and my mind goes into full-blown state of panic-caused paralysis.  I can feel my blood pressure going up, just writing the words. 

I don't get it.  I figure that I'm a relatively intelligent person, I certainly love my kid enough to want to do a good job for him, and I'm actually good with kids! I genuinely like every kid coming to his party on Saturday, and feel comfortable with each of them.  But I just can't seem to think in terms of how to do a birthday party, and I (literally) have nightmares that involve a bunch of bored kids sitting around a table with Matthew, complaining (rightly so) that this is the worst party they've ever been to.  I worry that I should be providing a meal, instead of nibblies and cake; I wonder if I should provide the regular loot bags instead of the one (awesomely delicious, to be sure: caramel- and chocolate-covered marshmallows rolled in skor bar pieces; wrapped in clear wrap and tied with a ribbon) take-home treat that I've planned; I worry that not every second will be filled with delightful entertainment; I worry that the two nut-allergic kids coming to the party will, despite my careful planning, end up in an epi-pen situations (don't worry; they get a different take-home treat: rice krispies squares wrapped around a stick and then rolled in nut-free, melted Mars bars - and this was actually, believe it or not, my idea!); I worry that half of the kids will be sick on the day and won't be able to come...In essence, I worry that it will be a flop and that I'll crush Matthew's huge excitement about the event.

To counter this terror, I have tried to develop a party plan (this is my sixth year using this approach and you think I'd know better by now).  My theory is that if I write everything down, my stress will dissipate and everything will go smoothly - after all, I am a woman who loves lists and plans!  Thus, four weeks ago, knowing I need time to compensate for my birthday idiocy, I saw down with my beautiful, sexy, Macbook computer (stop it Ruth - collect yourself - you're getting distracted) and opened up a shiny new page on the screen which I thoughtfully titled "Matthew's 6th Birthday Party" - with every intention of making that my planning list, etc etc. I debated for a while what title I should save the document under, fiddled with the sub-headings on my soon-to-be list, and made sure I liked the font.  Then I stared at the otherwise-blank page for a while.  After a while, I opened the telephone book and called Petland to make a reservation for tomorrow's date.

Somehow, over the past week, I've managed to get a few things done.  With Kate's help, I've planned a few activities to supplement the animal-petting side show; I've baked the cakes (to be iced tomorrow morning); got a few grocery bags filled and ready to go with the non-perishables, a gazillion balloons and streamers, plates, cups, napkins, candles, lighter....  You get the idea.  But I'm breathing hard, trying in utter vain to 'find my centre' (whatever that means).  Hoping against hope that it'll all be ok.

I don't know how I'm possibly going to manage in this area when I have three kids' birthdays to panic over (Kate, Kate - will you be in business anytime soon??).  I can hardly wait until they get old enough for me to tell them that they can pick two or three friends and we'll take them out for dinner or to a movie or something.  In no other respect do I long for my kid to be older than his current age, but in this one area I confess it to be true.  But for now, I'm going to suck it up and stick it out until Saturday afternoon, at which time I'll cross my fingers, try to relax, and hope my kid has a party he can be proud to remember.  Then I'll check myself into rehab for a well-deserved mental rest.


  1. Have I told you how much I love reading your blog? I never know if it will make me laugh or cry though.

    The party sounds fantastic! I know what you mean about planning parties. It is not my specialty either and I get to do it 3 times a year or possibly 4 at some point.

    I can tell you that I have two kids in my house who are ecstactic to be going to their first birthday party tomorrow. They feel like they've hit the bigtime and it does not matter to them in the least what they will be doing. If they get to eat cake, have fun and give a gift they will count it a success.

  2. As I seem to be a day behind reading your blogs, I started out this morning again with tears of your love over your boy from yesterday, it make me wish I could have more of your brain to write such beautiful words of and for my kids for them to have always. Then moved to todays blog which put a smile on my face, thanks for all the kind words and here are mine for you. You can do it! The biggest thing I have learned over the last 13 odd years of throwing parties is if YOU, yes, YOU have fun with no matter what you do at the party the kids will too. So go with the flow, laugh at whatever happens on plan or not and the party will be a huge success!! Good Luck and have a great time - Happy Birthday Matthew!

  3. I know what you mean about planning parties. We've yet to do "friends" parties (which I feel no small amount of guilt over- am I stinting my child's social development forever?!!!), but I stress everytime I have to have all the inlaws over for a party. Kate is so right about the main thing being for you to enjoy it, and everyone else will to (I'll take a deep breath and remind myself of that next time around!)
    Love your idea of sending home a treat instead of a loot bag.
    Have a wonderful day tomorrow and happy birthday Matthew :)

  4. HI Ruth,

    Loved loved yesterday's post made me cry, Loved the birthday's past photo's. I had a bear cake my mom made so I smiled at that one, Also Curious George was my fav, so the big yellow hat was perfect.

    Ok so now you have to face the party with a bit of heavy heart over our update, I have a feeling there are many hearts across Canada that broke just a little more today, So here's hoping you can numb that sad feeling with party stress instead, and then we go back to the "wait"
    So hard to read, I really had to remind myself many times of where we where in the summer and try and remind myself of this , ( again and again )
    So all the best as we pull our hearts up off the ground.

    Happy Birthday to your wonderful boy

  5. I love your sense of humour in your blog posts! And I'm SURE the party will be a smashing success!

  6. Our little guy is still too young to ask for a birthday party (I hope!), but I think this might be the last year I get away with doing nothing. 'Cos the parties sure seem like a lot of work and stress. But I'm sure all the kids will have a GREAT time at your son's party.

    Hey, have you thought about sending out any extra caramel, chocolate, marshmallow, Skor take-home treats to your blog readers? No? Maybe the Rice Krispie / Mars bar bars? Just a thought - you'd never want that stuff to go to waste.

    Have fun today!