A couple of weeks ago, I sat in the parents’ area at Early Bird’s gymnastics class and listened to some of the other moms sharing their plans for upcoming birthday parties. The mother of a soon-to-be four-year-old proudly revealed that she and her husband had hired a band and rented an ice cream truck for their daughter’s birthday celebration. She shared that her mother had questioned the necessity of such elaborate festivities. “What’s she going to expect next year?” the mother had asked. “Oh, next year is Disneyworld,” came the reply.
Excuse me? Disneyworld? For a five-year-old? I took my kid to the Disney store at the mall for her fifth birthday.
When did parenting become such a big to do? I mean, even before the kid is born we’re overdoing it. First, there’s the elaborate announcement of the pregnancy. Then, plans are made to host a gender reveal party during which it’s not enough to simply say, “Hey, thanks for coming. We’re having a __________.” Nope, there has to be some theater to it. Whether it’s the cutting of a cake or the opening of a box filled with balloons, somehow, the sudden appearance of pink or blue has to surprise and delight the audience and perhaps even the unsuspecting parents. Finally, there’s the nursery. Oh, the nursery. Pinterest could do quite well for itself if its only focus were a baby’s nursery.
When I found out I was pregnant with Omelette, there was no big announcement. I simply handed over the stick I had peed on to show her father the positive result. Then, after my first doctor’s appointment, I called my mother and sister to share the news. After that, we told a few key people and let word of mouth do the rest of the job for us. The gender reveal was done via phone, and as for the nursery, I registered for a few cute accessories at Babies R Us, and that was it. And there was no Facebook or Pinterest to tell me I was doing it all wrong.
Eight years and three kids later, I find myself listening to a mom talk about her big plans to take her daughter to Disneyworld. My kids can forget Disneyworld. I never went to Disneyworld, and I turned out just fine. Besides, if we did go, it would not be to celebrate one child’s birthday. It would be a trip for the whole family, and we would wait until the kids are old enough to appreciate it.
Probably most of us can agree that Disneyworld is an extravagant expense for a five-year-old’s birthday, espcecially since a child of that age will probably not really remember it. Yet, even without Disneyworld, there is still the pressure on parents to give a star performance over a meaningful experience. Recently, for example, I read a Facebook post asking who does the best smash cake. (What the flip is a smash cake?) After educating myself via Google (which, incidentally, provided a link to Pinterest in its search results), I learned that I had cheated Omelette and Early Bird out of having their own individual cakes to smear all over themselves at their first birthday parties. But never fear, I can still redeem myself in Hatchling’s eyes come October. That gives me six months to scour the internet for the perfect cake, which will be destroyed in less than six minutes. On second thought, I think I’ll just stick with the standard box of cake mix and can of frosting that has served me thus far. And Hatchling can have her share of the cake since it will be, after all, her party. (I’ll put the money I save into her
Disneyworld college fund.)
Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the moms and dads who go to great lengths to make a big deal out of their kids. (Even this cynic has gone overboard at times.) A parent’s life most likely revolves around the kids (whether he/she wants it to or not), so it makes sense to make the most of it. If you want to take your five-year-old to Disneyworld, go right ahead. So long as you realize it’s going to cost you plenty (financially and otherwise) to keep upping the ante each year. As for the smash cake, if you want one, knock yourself out. Just don’t be disappointed when you come to my kid’s party and the cake leaves something to the imagination. And keep the ridiculously overdone pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, and nursery designs coming. They give the non-Pinterest set something to
roll their eyes at consider. In the meantime, I’m going to keep getting up each day and doing it the only way I know how — one cake mix at a time.