So yes, I’m that crazy mom that loves planning parties. I was always the lead socialite of my peer group, organizing wine tasting parties, throwing birthday parties, looking for any excuse to have a rooftop BBQ, surprising my parents with a joint 60th birthday party, and I even planned two weddings (both my own). This year, since I knew I’d have a very fresh, new baby, I planned on not planning anything big for my daughter’s third birthday; no elaborate theme, not a lot of people, not a lot of work. I figured an intimate gathering of relatives where everyone brought a dish to share would suffice. As long as there was a candle to blow out, I knew my daughter would be happy.
But then my dear friend won a free birthday party at a kid play space, and she doesn’t have any kids of her own yet, so she gifted it to me. Inviting a bunch of kids to a party that’s not at your house doesn’t take as much work, and the bonus is that you don’t really have to clean up, so it’s a win-win. We had a party with her friends on a Friday morning before any toddler naptime meltdowns, and my daughter had so much fun. Her new baby brother even gave her (me) the best present of all and slept in his car seat throughout the entire thing!
My son was born exactly five weeks before my daughter’s birth day, and even after promising myself that I wasn’t going to do anything “big” for her birthday, my wheels started turning. I went down the dark hole of Amazon/Pinterest/Etsy-browsing in the middle of the night while I was up nursing, and alas, her Moana-themed luau party started to manifest just a few short weeks before her birthday. Whoops!!
So, I did it – sleep deprived and battling mastitis – we threw her a full-blown family birthday party at our house. This meant calling the landscaper (who comes once a year right before her birthday, for obvious reasons), cleaning the house, tidying up the patio, making sure the BBQ was working after a long winter, multiple trips to the party store, ordering the special Hawaiian guava cake we get for her every year, sending out invitations, Amazon Prime orders, and making a Costco run. After searching around for Hawaiian food catering, my parents talked us into reaching out for help from select family members and asking everyone to bring food instead. Reluctantly, because it’s so hard for me to ask for help (even when I know I should and especially as a new mom), I let my husband ask people to help us out with the party – at least with the food part of it. Everyone he asked was more than happy to help, and I’m so glad he did because we had a Hawaiian-themed FEAST.
The family party turned out great, and it was the first year since my daughter was born that it was actually sunny so our guests enjoyed sitting outside, drinking Kona Brewing Coompany beer, and listening to Hawaiian reggae. I once again proved to myself that I’m unstoppable once I put my mind to something, and having another baby couldn't slow me down. I was pretty proud of myself for hosting, nursing, diaper-changing, and everything in between, while still being very present for my daughter and sharing in her joy on her special day (especially after all of the emotional trauma she has endured in recent weeks). Plus, having a house full of family members, there were plenty of arms ready and willing to hold our baby boy. Birthday parties and celebrations always remind me of how fortunate we are to have family close by to be our village, and I don’t take it for granted, when so many other mothers long for even a single family member within close proximity.