Monday, March 27, 2006

The Great Birthday Debate

Before I begin I want to say, in all seriousness, thank you to those of you who, very nicely and in your own way, told me to get my head out of my ass and stop whining about someone taking my baby name. I'm still miffed about the whole situation, but after re-reading that post it struck me that I could be spending my valuable time on writing about more important things. Like war, famine, pestilence, the fact that we still have two more years with W....

Or Baby's First Birthday Party!

Oh my Christ.

Call it what you want: Hullabaloo, Social, Bash, or full-blown Kegger (hey, that would be fun)... Am I really expected to throw a sizeable celebration for Chicky Baby's birthday? More to the point, do I really expect that from myself? I'm waffling on this idea and I'm not quite sure how to proceed. On the one hand, a first birthday is reason to celebrate. This is a truly momentous occasion. If you stop and remember, as most of you can, how far this little person has come in their development, throwing a party doesn't seem like so much a burden as a way to observe the progression from tiny, needy lump to little hellion-on-the-move. Raise your sippy cups and say a toast, for soon we enter Toddler-hood.

(And there won't be much toasting done then, at least not until she finally is off to the land of Nod for the evening.)

To be brutally honest, though, the party would be more for me for keeping this child alive and well for 365 days. However, if you take my need to be patted on the back out of the equation and really get down to brass tacks... Really, how much does a one year old care about a birthday party? Its not like she's going to remember it. Her only association will be from looking at old photographs years later, or maybe a list of what sort of loot she got from which relative. The Hubby and I could keep the shindig really small, close family and a couple of friends only, have a cake and some presents and be done with it.

Oh, 'tis so much trickier than that, though.

There are the people who are required to be there - Chicky Baby's Grandparents, Aunts (well, just one Aunt, the other one doesn't live close enough to attend), Great Grandparents, and a smattering of close friends with small children whose parties we attended (Okay, they're not really required to be there, but I've been waiting for my chance at payback for a while. If that makes me an awful person, then so be it.) All together, by my count, not including the Hubby and me the list is already at about 20 people.

Then we get to the tricky part. Let me give you some background... First of all, "close family" is a very broad term for me. My Mother, coming from a good Catholic family, was one of 11 children. Every holiday, birthday, graduation, or Saturday afternoon was spent with no less than 30 people. I'd like to say we're a genuinely close-knit family who is happy to come together for any reason, but we're really more like the mob. There may be back-stabbing, lying, cheating, and bad blood, but you're still "family". No matter what, you have to be present for certain occasions.

Some of you know by now that I lost my Mom a couple of years ago. Since then, her two sisters and my God-Mother have tried to take small, but active roles in my, and my sister's, lives. Surrogate Mothers, I guess. I'd like to include them in Chicky Baby's birthday and I know they would be happy to come. But, as I found out when planning my wedding a few years ago, if you invite some and not all, be ready for the bitching. Oh, and bitching I will hear through channels, because they wouldn't dare complain to my face. My uncles and their wives have still not really forgiven me for not inviting them to my wedding (we were keeping it small. Besides, they were at my first one!) and, though they really wouldn't want to attend a baby's birthday party - and would complain and moan that they would have to drive an hour to get to it and waste a perfectly good Sunday [see picture at right] - they don't want to NOT be invited. I can't win.

I know what I have to do... For my sanity and my daughter's and husband's sanity, I'm going to keep this party small and the relatives be damned. They're going to bitch no matter what I do. I suppose the point of this was to clear my head of all the negativity, to get it out there (aren't you all lucky) and make peace with it. If you have any words of wisdom, perhaps something I haven't thought of, I would certainly accept them eagerly.

If birthdays are this hard now, I'm screwed when I have to decide what to do when Chicky Baby has a list of 20 kids she wants to invite to her 5th birthday!


Anonymous said...

Hey, the more you invite, the more presents to come! And more people to help clean Chicky Baby up after she has had her birthday cake!

Good luck!

ms blue said...

The first birthday party is for the parents. It may be overwhelming for Chicky Baby. If you can't keep it small, just keep it short and schedule it so that it doesn't interrupt her naptime.

As children get older a rule of thumb is to invite the same number of children as your child's age.

I hope you have a blast celebrating this momentous occasion!

Sandra said...

We had a similar dilemma and ended up with a small party for our son when he turned one. He was somehow traumatized by the candle and the happy birthday song (I didn't realized I sung THAT badly). It was the craziest thing. For six months after he'd have a fit at just the lighting of a candle or the first note of the song.

I had a friend with the best idea though. She had 4 people over for the "child's party" then hired a sitter and in the evening had a big bash with lots of booze for her adult friends to celebrate surviving the first year of parenthood.

Big complicated family drama is more stress than its worth and the baby won't know the difference.

Have fun either way :)

MrsFortune said...

My husband and I were talking about the whole "first birthday party" thing just the other day. I know it will suck to have to deal with all the backlash, but it sounds like you're going to be doing the right thing. Unless you do it at like a place where you don't have to do any of the work. Or plan it for a day when you know they won't REALLY be able to come and invite them, anyway. Like an "unvitation" ... as Elaine would say on Seinfeld. That's sort of passive agressive but it would accomplish your objective w/o some of the hassle, maybe.

Stacy said...

you can't please everyone so why even try! just do what's right for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

That is right Chicky Mommy. You do for you and your family now!

Carolyn S. said...

Some parents spend more time planning the first birthday party than they did their wedding. Yeah for you for making a decision that will save everyone's sanity.

Christina said...

Yes, keep the party small. We had a larger party and it ended up being bad. Cordy was just freaked out by all of the people in our house, which made her cranky all day long.

Plus, you do get more gifts, but you'll also get people giving gifts you'd never let your child play with in a million years. And it sucks to write a thank you note for something you hate.

All you really need for a first b-day party is a baby, some cake, and a camera.

Amy said...

I am all about parties but my daughter did not have a first birthday party (we were getting ready to move) and she is JUST FINE and almost 11. She didn't have a second birthday party either because we had just moved again and didn't know anyone. OK, she's beening having birthday blasts since age 3 and looks at me wide-eyed when I remind her we neglected to invite the masses for years one and two. Did I mention we hired the REAL little mermaid when she was three? We have more than made up for lost time! Do what is right for YOU!

Stephanie said...

happy bithday!!

Bobita said...

For baby #1 we had the entire family, for baby #2 just the immediate family and grandparents and for baby #3's upcoming b-day...I think we've decided to just bag it!

I jest! It can be fun to have everyone over...but as I add children I realize how little time I have to invest in clean-up!

They won't remember...and as long as you have a picture of them with their tiny fingers in their first is really about what is best for you!

Best of luck...and Happy Birthday to Chicky Baby!

petite gourmand said...

so funny I'm going through the exact same debate with myself..once we started "the list" the number was hovering around the 50 mark...scary thought.
I mean we only had 5 people at our wedding for god's sakes!
so I'm doing some editing, and I think a small group of friends, around 15 people and maybe 3 or 4 babies around lulu's age.
even that will be a handful.
but good luck with however you decide to celebrate, it is an important and fun time.
oh and I also agree with your comment about being "mama" (her bad mother)
so far that's how the wee one chooses to address me and that's fine by me. makes my heart melt every time.
love your blog.

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