Trying to phone in a birthday party

Did you know I used to be an awesome party planner? And by that I mean I was a competitive circus meister who batted imaginary henchmen one-upping my celebrations. I mean, I ain’t no Pippa Middleton (bwahahahah) but my child’s first birthday was a roar of coordinated baby bolero jackets and professional cakes. Even though she had no friends because she had milk breath and told rambling stories was a baby, I had custom magnets made as party favors that featured our chosen party logo. Custom magnets! Party logo! Insufferable! Plus, why? Babies don’t pin bills to the fridge.

True fact and I will debate anyone who tries me: I invented those “gender-reveal” parties that pregnant women have where they cut into a cake to reveal pink or blue icing in front of their friends and families. Yup. I was the first one to do it (and blog about it) in 2008 and it was even written about in The Bump Chicago magazine. I also planned parties as part of my job, back in my days before wet wipes and sippy cups. Why am I telling you this? Because I’m a changed woman. Sort of. I practically phone it in now (for me).

It’s time to dilute my walking Redbull persona. I’m trying to make friends in this new town by reining in my over-the-top tendencies that get misconstrued as trying to out-mom everyone else. Seriously, when it comes to parties, I’m like the Tazmanian Devil with fondant and fluffy paper balls, all arms and legs spraying the town with decor, Stepford smiling with my Chicklet teeth. I see these deadpan other moms at story time and I’m like, “how are we both human?” But I’m working on it. I’ve got to tone down the sequins-and-tights routine I get into when it’s time to host.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still throwing a party. I’m even giving a decent favor bag – one that toes the line between cheap clutter from China and Who Do You Think You Are, Is This An American Doll? I’m half ashamed and little excited to admit this: This year, the food will just be delivered pizza. No smorgasboard of everything the hungry caterpillar ate, no hand-painted signs or custom invitations. No blimp. (Okay, there was never a blimp.) It’s just easy food at an easy place. Even her outfit is the rubberstamp equivalent of a party dress. You know, tutu and a shirt that says her name. Yawn. Remember that year I sewed a jacket and bunting out of coordinating party fabric? (You: EYE ROLL. This is why we aren’t friends!! Me: Why can’t I channel this energy into cleaning my toilets??)

Somewhere along the way I realized that people are more likely to pick apart what I’m doing if I am perceived to be trying too hard and the irony is, this is just me. The only thing I’m trying to do is stop myself from bedazzing the curtains.¬†Case in point: I posted a picture on Facebook of my daughter’s room that I designed and I got criticism, “where are her toys?” and “that doesn’t look like a toddler room, it looks like a teen lounge” etc. Ballon, popped.


Here it is so you may criticize it too! Their toys are in the play room! 

It’s just my nature to coordinate fabric, refinish furniture and learn to sew roman shades myself. I kind of can’t help it. I even started a new blog about it. But it is time-consuming and certainly invites criticism. Besides, with all my duvet-sewing and Santa planning, I have to parcel out my sweat somehow. An effort of 90% will have to suffice for the birthday party this year.

Conversely, life is more pleasant if I trade my post-career sales mentality for perm-yoga pants and chilling the eff out. One can slide too far down the scale of chilling, of course, and end up sticking a candle in a frozen pizza and forgetting to wear pants. I once heard a sad story of a hungover Easter bunny who remembered “that thing about hiding eggs” at about 4:00 PM on Easter afternoon. I mean, what sucks worse? Being a neurotic, hyper-competitive ex-saleslady who creates a party logo for a 1-year-old’s birthday or a drunk mom who forgets Easter? Just saying. The real goal, and result of several years of easing into the stay-at-home-mom schedule, is a sweet medium.

So this birthday, I’m taking the middle road. Well. Except the cake. I can’t help myself when it comes to fondant. You know what? Forget everything I just said. Be who you are. I may just order pizza and stick her in a tutu this year, but I’ll be damned if I don’t make a towering Hello Kitty cake out of homemade marshmallow fondant. And yes, they do make edible glitter.


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