‘We’re not having a party’

So BabyBoy and BabyGirl are turning 2. And with this milestone came the dreaded children’s birthday party.

Except, this wasn’t supposed to be a party. Let me go back and explain.

Last year, when BabyBoy and BabyGirl turned 1, I was still fragile. I knew that throwing a party was not something I was going to be able to do. And I recalled with vivid clarity going to a 1 year old’s birthday party where the birthday girl was far too overwhelmed to enjoy it. And I was not getting on with my mother-in-law at all and couldn’t bear the thought of giving her another excuse to rock up to my house and annoy me. And Multidaddy pointed out that 1 year olds wouldn’t even know if they had an elaborate birthday party. So my mother flew in from my home country, I had a cake made, the rest of my family (who are all overseas) sent presents, and we officially just had a small immediate-family-plus-grandma celebration.

I have to admit, though, I felt a smidge guilty as other friends threw increasingly elaborate affairs for their 1 year olds.

As the second birthday rolled around, Multidaddy and I again agreed, no party. BabyBoy and BabyGirl still hadn’t got the concept of birthday and party. Instead, we’d take the children, his parents and two of our close friends and their little boy to a theme park.

And then, I started discussing cakes (for some reason, it has become important to me to have elaborate cakes – I’m not sure why). I designed it. And altered it. And then thought, I should probably invite some of the neighbors to help us eat it, especially as we see a lot of them now. And then somehow, somehow, this person and that person also got invited.

To each of them I said, ‘We’re not having a proper party, and it’s all very informal, but if you’d like to pop in and have a slice of birthday cake you’d be most welcome’.

And as more and more people accepted I thought, heck, we’re going to have several 2 year olds running around….better get hold of some paper plates and cups…and matching napkins…and matching tablecloth…and maybe a banner to put on the door…and we need drinks…and a few extra snacks…and probably a little something for the children to take away with them…

And before I knew it, as well as planning a day out, I was planning a party which was not a party.

Which was fine. Until two days before the ‘not-a-party’ when two guests finally replied saying they couldn’t come. I was a bit disappointed, but, well, they hadn’t said they were so I knew I was being irrational.

On the day before the ‘not-a-party’ I started panicking that the house was not presentable. And then one of our guests cancelled. And then the nerves began to kick in.

On the morning of the ‘not-a-party’ another guest cancelled. Their kid was sick.

By lunchtime, another child had fallen ill and cancelled. By now, I was developing a complex that no-one liked us and the afternoon was going to be a disaster.

And then, half an hour before the time that people were invited to begin making an appearance, the phone beeped with the message that yet another child had woken up from their nap sniffling.

At this point I closed my eyes and decided that entertaining was over-rated.

Some dear people did turn up. There was chaos as the children ran riot over the toys. A large portion of the cake was eaten.

But my nerves are shot. I hate putting myself out there. I hate being judged. Even though the children who had come had had fun, as I counted up the cards at the end of the afternoon I felt slightly disheartened that there were less than there could have been, less than, dare I say it, other children might have.

Parenthood makes you take responsibility, mature, grow up…and sometimes it sends you right back to being worried that your friends might not come to your birthday party.

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