Who doesn’t love a massive bouncy house?
Let me tell you, our family (maybe sans Bray) loves us some giant inflatables.
Yes that is me and little bit. I’m not ashamed to admit I executed that move with all of the kids on multiple occasions.
Our three year old triplet birthday party on Saturday at the bounce house place was a success. We had 21 kids, most of them about three years old, plus their parents. Luckily, this location had at least 8 different large bouncy houses in a private room so it accommodated the frenzied energy well. There was jumping of every size and shape you can imagine and some of the adults joined right in with their kiddos like I did. I actually had fun at the party, though the weeks leading up to the party presented some serious snafus.
Here’s the thing, I am a planner. I would be a professional planner if it paid enough. I would really love to be professional party planner and make over guru if I had all the money in the world. Oh, and a speechwriter. Oh, and publish a book. Oh, and start a nonprofit. But I digress.
So I spent some serious time and effort planning this Pooh and friends party. The kids love Pooh and his buddies. They have for years and were even Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet for Halloween when they were one. I had custom invites done and coordinating juice box labels and cupcake picks. I had special ordered plates to go with balloons to go with table covers to go with napkins to go with souvenir take home Pooh cups that were stuffed with custom Pooh chocolate number 3 “lollipops” and Pooh stamps.
The kids had custom birthday shirts that had a big 3 with Pooh for the baby, Piglet for the little lady, and Tigger for the eldest and everything on and around their birthday matched the custom character for each child. I even had the lady who customized all the farm birthday stuff from last year fail to come through on all my orders with her (and never reimburse me the significant money I spent with her so I am working on recovering that now through the Florida court system) so I had to find a back up team.
I did it all because I love to plan parties and I wanted everything to be so perfect for the kids. I don’t get to be with them during the day every day so these special events I try to make extra special.
But here’s the thing: they are three. This is not their Sweet Sixteen. I had both my mother and Bray tell me, after recognizing how beautiful the party was and how adorable everything looked, that maybe I go overboard. Maybe, just maybe, I could scale back.
I wonder if we working mommas sometimes end up in our own toxic bouncy house? We become embroiled in a competition, with ourselves or even with other families, of how high can we jump? If we can work so hard at work, then we can work hard at having the perfect party – our children deserve at least that, right? If I did personalized cupcake picks and napkins last year, surely I could add the juice boxes this year? Maybe I should add just one more item for the take home gift because I want everyone to remember the fun times? If I had a large scale poster illustrating how they grew over the year last year, then don’t I need it to be bigger this year so we can capture the moment?
The juice boxes were tossed in 15 minutes. The cupcake picks 5 minutes later. The poster went in the attic next to the previous two. I am learning, as I devour Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, that the moments richest with blessings are not purchased. The moments that you jot down in your blessings journal are most frequently free. Nighttime prayers with folded hands. Rolling over onto your husband’s chest in the morning. The sun setting behind the slotted clouds letting the filtered light create a masterpiece painting. Hiding in a fort with your kids. Smelling the rain and watching a storm roll in.
The party was great. I am glad we had one. I loved seeing friends and their children. But if each year has to be bigger and better than last year, at some point I won’t be able to afford to keep up. Or it will come at the detriment of something else. I just came off this 39 Things challenge, so I am actually ashamed of myself for “jumping” right back into the madness as if those three weeks had no affect on my behaviour.
Years from now the baby box full of mementos from these parties won’t be important to the children. They will want the stories. Some photographs. That NICU bracelet that shows how far we have come. No one is going to frame a juice box and a cupcake pick. And it’s time that us working moms battling guilt stop trying to buy our way out of that dark box. We work. That is what it is. The most precious gift we can give them away from the office is ourselves.