Thursday, September 4, 2014

"It's My Party & I'll Plan If I Want To"

It's September! Yaaaaaaaay... Can you smell the sarcasm?

September was never one of my favorite months living in South Florida. First of all, the rest of the country is enjoying Indian Summer or Autumn and in some places even fall weather. Not here though.

September in South Florida is about as disappointing as December. Don't even get me started on my "You call this Christmas?" rant. September is just another summer month in South Florida! The same exact weather it seems as July and August. Unforgiving heat, relentless humidity. The only time of year you can take a shower just before leaving and sweat by the time you walk to your car. Every year I complain to anyone willing to listen about how THIS will be my last summer in Florida, and argue with anyone who is interested about why it would be better living ANYWHERE else (specifically the Northeast). A walk to the mailbox is a chore, not to mention resulting in what can only be described as a "drive-by" of mosquito attacks (I once counted 32 bites in under ten minutes outside!).

It wasn't until 2009 when I actually looked forward to this month, I was pregnant and due the end of September! Even though I had to spend my ENTIRE third trimester in July, August and September I managed to remain in good spirits. Once our not so little guys first birthday rolled around I was in crafty heaven! You mean I get to plan parties every year??? I first rekindled my childhood love of crafting during the planning of my wedding. Getting married at a young age and paying for everything yourself apparently awakens the crafter's spirit. So off I went, as my husband likes to put it "hot gluing myself to everything under the sun". Boy did I go off! I went with a circus "motif" seeing as how our local park had an incredible vintage-style carousel.

One of the most enjoyable parts about planning are all the fun and personalized details you can add. I would go nuts adding specific little details to every facet of the party! From photo booths, to directional signs and even face painters. Goody bags were my specialty!

Staying true to the theme I would incorporate specific food or drinks, the possibilities are endless! Don't get me wrong I LOVE this stuff, I practically LIVED for it. It's yet another way for me to be creative and create wonderful experiences and memories to share. Invitations had to be perfect and foreshadow all of the fun to be had! I would put all my heart and soul into making everyone feel special, I spent most of the time running around making sure everything was "just right" so that everyone else was having a good time. OR that everything looked "just right" so that the pictures and memories would be wonderful.
But there is one other aspect of it that rarely gets discussed, I was also EXHAUSTED! When you are exhausted you cannot be your best self, or the best mom. I would stay up all hours of the night stapling myself to something or spilling paint from sheer exhaustion. At some points it felt like work, with two toddlers under the age of two it definitely took its toll. Especially the weeks leading up to the party, I could just see me now up until 1am sticking Elmo eyes and noses onto red paper plates for the Sesame Street party.

Then something happened...

I was at George Snow Park one day (a favorite of ours, nice and shady in the summer months), when one of the fellow Seedlings moms showed up with her three kids in tow and a whole foods bag. She proceeded to park under a tree at a picnic table, and set up shop. Linens, cutlery, a fruit and pasta platter and some vegan cupcakes. Her husband showed up with a cake and some balloons a few minutes later. She had invited a few of her daughters friends and told the rest of us park stragglers, "We're having A's birthday party here, you are all welcome to join in on the food and fun". That's it? "It's really that simple"? Of course it is I thought, some of my fondest memories as a kid were impromptu birthday parties with an Entenmann's Devils Food cake and some Cheetos! Oh the high fructose corn syrup goodness! My boys had the greatest time that day, all of the kids and parents did. There was no stress, no muss and no fuss. It didn't matter who showed up, who didn't. Whether anyone brought a gift or not, or if anyone had any criticism. There was no comparing to other parties, or any jealousy about anything. It was what parties used to represent, FUN!

I started wondering if it was also the image I wanted to portray for my boys, making an insane production for every single year of their life? Would this instill a sense of entitlement? Where would I draw the line? I was certainly happy and grateful for yet another wonderful year of having the honor of playing mommy to these two incredible human beings, and that certainly felt worthy of a celebration. But did that celebration need to be this type of a grand production? The time, the resources and the money spent in pulling off these extravagant parties... Was it all for them? If given the chance to decide, would they really care about centerpieces or photo booths? I asked my 3 year old what he wanted to do for his 4th birthday, he asked if his cake could be orange and can he have an orange balloon? That's his favorite color. It's that simple for him, and I hope he never loses that simplicity. How can I teach them to appreciate the still moments in life if I'm constantly upping the ante?

Don't get me wrong, not all of these over the top crafty parties are about status or competition. I just started to feel like some of the parties I was going to (and planning) we're more "parent centered" than "child centered". Parties in park playgrounds where parents were more concerned with serving alcohol to adults than really focusing on the kids. Feeling pressure during planning to invite someone or their plus 1 because of "what they might think". Something clicked in me that I couldn't describe, I had scaled back in so many other ways in my life on my quest for "less is more" I guess it was only a matter of time before this would follow suit. Balance is the key to all happiness they say, and in fact balance is where I find I am most at peace and connected in my life. So I made a conscious decision to scale back, and focus on what truly mattered. With decisions like these my mind always goes to an article on the Sunflower Blog I once read titled "Being vs. Buying", you can find it here: I decided I would focus all of that time and energy into creating life experiences, adventures and collect moments. We were going to "Be" instead of "Buy", or "Plan". Children know more than we ever can about being fully "present" in the moment, if only we would follow their lead a little more instead of trying to teach them about "our world" or "the real world". The swift fleeting moments that whiz by in a parents life, those ordinary Tuesday nights where you just hang out with eachother, thats where the magic happens.

I wasn't fortunate enough to have a lot of time with my Dad, he died just before my freshman year in highschool and he worked a ton when I was growing up. I don't remember any expensive gifts or lavish parties. I can't recall the sacrifices he made so that I could have the Gameboy I wanted or those new boots I had to have. I remember the handful of moments we spent alone. Just a simple drive to run an errand when he introduced me to Jazz & Blues, the day he took me to get my first pair of glasses, or the time he took me to work with him "just because". The simple banter between father and daughter are imprinted on my heart. Those are moments I treasure till this day, and I draw from these moments when faced with these opportunities in my own parenting.

Here are some of my party pictures over the years..

Doesnt my son look happy?

All this while 7 months pregnant!

Everything gets decorated, even the bump!

The devil's in the details...

More "fun" for the little guy!

"Seuss-tastic" party!

We've decided not to stop celebrating or throwing parties, but to introduce a bit more balance in the mix. I will always love party planning and making parties special for all who attend, just not Every. Single. Year. So we will party it up for the "big ones" as I like to call it. First is always a biggie, Fifth, Tenth, 18th, 21st and possibly 30th. Instead, we will fill all that in between up with all the juicy ordinary special moments that weave their way into our lives while we are just "being".

We don't have many pictures of the past couple of birthdays, we were too busy having fun!

Essentially Yours,


No comments :

Post a Comment