My husband looked at the bench where I’d laid out the party bags for the friends who were coming along, and said “Oh is there only six kids coming?” Innocent enough question, no emphasis on any particular word, but it immediately cut through me like a sword. It had unleashed a flurry of worry, fears, doubts and feelings of not being good enough that had been hovering near the surface waiting to emerge. I immediately began to think I’d let my daughter down by not inviting enough people. Why didn’t I invite more kids??
What is it with kids birthday parties that turn us into these panic infested beings?
I took a day off work just for this birthday party, and spent the day running around buying last minute gifts, decorations and food – so much food. I baked two cake layers, instead of one, because that seems to be the norm. I bought healthy food, and junk food, and bread for sandwiches incase kids were fussy and didn’t eat the rest. I got paper plates, plastic cutlery, paper cups and serviettes so I didn’t have to do dishes afterwards.
I went to the supermarket three times in one day. The first time I forgot flour for the cake, but when I went back I bought box cake mix instead. The next time I realized I’d forgotten the essentials – you know, nappies. Woops.
I sat around waiting over an hour for the cake to completely cool so I could turn it into a strawberry masterpiece. I wrapped presents in the middle of the night. I told my mum the cake was from a box and she said to me “in my day we made the cakes from scratch….”. Another dig in the side of this whole inadequate party planner feeling.
And all the while wondering if everything I’ve done will even be worth it, because as my husband so innocently said – there are only six kids coming. Granted there are adults coming (aunties, cousins, grandparents etc), but really the party is all about the children right? Will my beautiful little girl be happy with just six friends? Please let the answer be yes.
Why do we let these pressures of expectations and standards affect us like this? Is it a social comparison? Is it a need to not be inadequate at throwing children’s parties? Who even decides what inadequacy looks like? Is it a desire to not disappoint the little girl celebrating her fourth birthday?
I’ve had several people say to me just buy a cake it’d be so much easier. But I don’t. Because I have this weird need to be the one to make my children’s cakes each year. WHY?
I really don’t know why. All I can guess is that I am trying ever so hard to give my daughter a fantastic day that is all about her. I want to see the joy on her face, the happiness, the laughter and the smiles. It’s a passion deep inside me, an innate need to bring happiness to my children. And I guess with that, a fear has manifested, that I won’t be good enough.
If I thought it would be icing the cake that would keep me up all night, or the reminiscing of the glorious moments of labour (hear my sarcasm please – it was torture), I was wrong. It wasn’t either of these, it was this darn fear of not being good enough. The passing comments people make, thinking their blasè words mean nothing. I create this expectation in my mind of what a mother must pull off, and I stress enormously to get there. The thing is, when I’m level-headed and rational, when I’m not in the moment, I KNOW I am good enough and I do a good job. But sometimes I just get stuck in the fear.
Is it something you’ve felt before? Share your experiences in the comments below x