There is a lot of pressure today to throw the perfect birthday party for our children. A friend of mine reported attending a three-year-old's party that rivaled a wedding reception – complete with the large outdoor tent, table linens and flower arrangements. While (I hope) this is an extremely rare example, I can understand how the pressure builds as the planning begins.
It's easy to get caught up in ... well, let's face it … concerns about how we'll be judged by other people. Isn't that really at the heart of it?
I thought I was immune to it. Yesterday was Lucas' 2nd birthday. I kept it relatively simple, with cupcakes and lemonade at a favorite park over the weekend for a few of his little playmates, and then an intimate family dinner on his actual birthday last night. While it's true that I didn't actually succumb to the pressure, I still felt it; like I should have done more.
Honestly, if we'd had more money to spend on his party, I would have done it, despite my ethical concerns about it. I would have invited more people, bought more decorations, given better party favors, you name it. Ugh! The social pressure was that strong! And I have nice friends! It's not even like I hang out with a bunch of competitive, judgmental people.
Here's the lesson I learned from Lucas' 2nd birthday:
Last night, while just sitting in his booster chair patiently waiting for dinner to be served to him and our little party of five adults, Lucas was in absolute bliss! No decorations, no games, not even any kids! But he was surrounded by the people who loved him the most, giving him our full attention, and he couldn't have been any happier! He held up his cup to do cheers with our wine glasses, positively crowing with glee. Later, he showed off to Auntie Kristen and Grandma how he takes his bath. Who would have thought it could be that easy?
I hope I remember this next year.