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.