The First Birthday

Today is A’s first birthday. That’s right, I have survived one year as a Mom. Wow.

(Insert longish paragraph about how much I love my daughter, believe she is the cutest child alive, and though it was a tough year, I enjoy watching her grow.)

Okay- now let’s talk kids birthday politics. Geez. I never knew it was so difficult. First, we had to decided to have a party or not. We went with not. Reasons? 1) She won’t remember it. 2) We didn’t want people to feel obligated to get her some presents she doesn’t need. 3) We don’t have the money right now to throw a party. 4) Our dog doesn’t like children (as you can imagine, this is a much bigger long term problem) and having a bunch of kids over is really stressful when you have to manage the kids and a barking dog. So- no party. Instead, I think we will have a family day at the zoo. Problem #1 solved.

Next, I had to decide if we were going to go to all the other first birthday parties we were invited to. Maybe this makes me a horrible person, but the last bit of mat leave put us in a tight financial position and we just don’t have money to buy each of A’s little friends presents. Also, all these parties we got invited to were for babies in the Mom’s group that formed after a class I took when A was 8 weeks old. It was great at first, but slowly, the group started to split into cliches and some of us grew closer then others. It really is a lot to expect that 8 random Mom’s would be friends, simply because our babies were born in the same month. There were a couple of them I just couldn’t relate to. And then, when A was about 7 months, every other Mom in the group felt that 1:30pm was the easiest time to meet, and that was the worst time for us, as A always went down for a nap at 1pm. So I drifted farther apart from the group. And then I went back to work. So, apart from the one or two Mom’s that I would say I developed a real friendship with, I didn’t feel obligated to go to a whole bunch of first birthday parties. This didn’t stop me from feeling bad/guilty about it.

So that was the birthday politics for this year- not bad. But I was talking with a friend today, and she was mentioning giving out invites for her kid’s birthday party to some, but not all, to the kids 20 classmates. Now that is politics. How does one decide that? What if a kid invited your kid to their party- do you have to return the favour and invite them back? What if there is one kid that never gets invited to the party? Like seriously, this is going to be stressful as a parent. What if an other parent takes offense?

So I guess, what I am asking, while it is in my mind and I can get well prepared for next year- What is proper Birthday Party etiquette for your kids?

Next, on a related side note- I would like to petition the world of parents that we modify/shift the concept of Baby’s First birthday.

Be it resolved that, given the fact that a 1 year old will have no memory of their first birthday and that parents of a one year old child have experienced in the preceding year most, if not all, of the following

1) Sleep deprivation

2) Emotional stress/Parenting guilt

3) Financial stress

4) Intense ‘my whole world is turned upside down’ syndrome

5) Very little focus/care of self

6) All energy going towards the care of a baby

That the first birthday party should herein be renamed the “Parental First Year Survival Anniversary” and include parents who get to go out, see their friends, have a fun time, drink to much and generally celebrate the fact they are still sane.

Are you with me?

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22 responses to “The First Birthday

  1. Bree March 25, 2010 at 7:42 am

    The first birthday is really for the parents. Wesley’s was rather big because we used it as an excuse to see the friends and family who we had neglected over the previous year! Starting with birthdy #2 it becomes more child-focused. I think your family outing is a great idea for a birthday party. I’m struggling with what to do for #3 because Wes can actually appreciate it now, so there’s a little more to think about. He’s also actually making friends (vs kids he plays next to sometimes). So that adds more to think about.

  2. Fearless Formula Feeder March 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    You make me laugh… I love you.

    I would definitely sign that petition. However, we did end up throwing FC a 1st bday party, but we did it at a local indoor playground and only invited family and other “parent” friends who were already inviting us to their kids’ parties, so none of our child-free friends would feel obligated. Within our group of mommy friends, another mother and I tried to start a coup regarding birthday gifts – no more than $10/kid. However, the other moms balked, and so we looked like cheapskates.

    My feeling? There is no need to spend more than ten bucks for a kid’s birthday. They like the box the gift comes in more than the gift, for godsakes. A cute little book is cheap and perfect for a first birthday. Otherwise, it can really add up – we went to 6 birthdays in a matter of 2 months (we met all our parent friends at mommy and me too), so if we had spent more than that, it would’ve been a substantial chunk of change. And baby needs shoes, ya know?

    Anyway… happy birthday, and go have a stiff drink on me. You earned it, momma.

  3. Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves March 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    The first birthday was kind of an issue for us. My husband’s family is so large and they all live within a few streets that I couldn’t just invite one family and not another. They ALL started calling and emailing me to find out when my son’s birthday party was a month before I even knew I was having one for sure. The stress was crazy. In the end I just caved, we invited all of them (and then had to invite all of my family because I can’t invite one side and not the other). He had 60 people at his first birthday party!! It’s was nuts. That’s more people than we had at our wedding.

    Now that he’s started preschool the whole who to invite from his class dilemma has me stressing again. Gah.

    • amoment2think March 25, 2010 at 8:30 pm

      Wow. Yeah, we didn’t have any family pressure to contend with. That is intense. It sucks that so many great occasions, like weddings and birthday parties, need to come with such stress eh?

  4. Jen March 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Our first birthday party we had a hotdog BBQ for mostly MY friends, with some of Kale’s little buddies. I wasn’t going to do it at all ,but an excuse for a summer BBQ was fun.

    Happy birthday A, and congrats Mama!

  5. ironicmom March 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I opted not to throw my twins a first birthday party. We were two weeks away from moving from Thailand to Canada, so I had other things on my mind. When my neighbour and dear friend heard this, she made the cake, bought presents, and had us over for dinner…which included wine for me.

    I think every “birth” day belongs to the mom a bit, so I’ll sign your petition!

  6. smdcanada March 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Happy Birthday to your little one, and congrats on surviving the year. I’m in on your plan.

    My twist on your first birthday idea…
    – buy or otherwise acquire your favorite kind of cake
    – take required picture of confused/disinterested one-year old looking at the cake
    – eat entire cake yourself in honour of job well done and to numb the thought that you’ve got 17 more years to go.

    • amoment2think March 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm

      LOL. She actually ate her cake, which totally surprised me. But because she is so allergic to milk it didn’t quite fit the criteria of my favorite kind of cake (which involves, by definition, chocolate). Maybe tomorrow I should buy myself a cupcake.

      Haha, 17 more years. Terrifying. I am pretty sure I won’t be sane by then.

      • smdcanada March 26, 2010 at 6:58 pm

        And another thought for your petition for when kids get older: Let’s ban loot bags. They’re a waste of money. Full of terrible plastic dollar-store stuff or sugary stuff that most parents I’m sure just end up throwing away the moment they get home from the party. NO MORE LOOT BAGS. NO MORE LOOT BAGS (I’m chanting…)

  7. Cheryl March 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    We had a rather big first birthday and made quite a few mistakes that turned it into a mess! Too many kids, too many different ages, wrong time of day for all the toddlers, too much, too much! We (well, I, hubby isn’t really into it) wanted to have our friends over to celebrate surviving the first year. Good theory, bad idea!
    I am sure you enjoyed your day at the zoo more than I enjoyed hearing kids cry when they wanted each toy we opened πŸ˜‰

    Also, we tried the $10 gift rule for B’s second birthday (I talked hubby up from $5) and everyone thought we were nuts!

  8. Megan March 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I am so envious of you right now. I am stressed OUT about planning Charlotte’s birthday party. We have a lot of family, family friends, extended family, etc. and it just seemed to make sense to throw her the big party.

    But, it is so expensive, I don’t know how to entertain the other kids, and I’m freaking out because I stupidly scheduled it too close to nap time. Now, I feel like if she’s cranky, the whole thing will be ruined, and that’s too much pressure for a little baby.

    Ahhhhh, a trip to the zoo sounds like heaven right now!

    • amoment2think March 26, 2010 at 7:25 am

      Hang in there. I know lots of people have big families that live near by, so a big party makes sense. Don’t worry- no matter what happens it will work out.

  9. Amber March 25, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    My daughter turned 5 last month, and so far we have NEVER had a kids party for her. When she turned 1 and 2 she wasn’t really aware of what was happening, and we had family parties. When she turned 3 and 4 she specifically requested family parties. And this year my husband was working at the Olympics over her birthday and I didn’t feel up to doing anything and then her best friend left her school and we ended up having one close friend over for a playdate and that was it. While we have done grandparents and aunts and uncles and cake and presents every year, I have avoided the birthday party thing and I am glad about it.

    As for inviting and attending and so on, until Hannah was older (3-4 years old) we declined birthday party invites when I didn’t know the parents. Maybe it’s rude, but I find the idea of hanging out with a bunch of strangers to be awkward, especially when my daughter is not going to remember this child in the long run. Now that she’s older and actually has close friends, we attend parties for her close friends. At Hannah’s daycare, there doesn’t seem to be any requirement for inviting everyone, and it seems to be OK. But they’re still really young, and most of the kids get more excited for the cake at school than anything else.

  10. Perpetua March 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Happy first birthday to A and survival anniversary to you!

    Sometimes I wish I had more friends with kids, but then I read about the politics of birthday parties and invites and circles of friends, and…yeah. Glad we don’t have to deal with that. πŸ™‚

  11. J March 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    The whole subject of birthdays is one that needs a serious overhaul. I would sign your petition for sure. We did have a very small party when my daughter turned one but it was really just our friends as well. We did not get into the big “birthday” hoopla until her daycare class hit 3 and 4 and now 4 and 5. Then the pressure is on – to some extent. Sometimes we were asked to parties and the whole class was there. Others just a few. On her 4th birthday we combined with another family and shared the party. This helped. Especially as the costs start rising (elaborate locations, food, etc.). Then there are the gifts. I got some great advice from a friend years ago. Don’t even try to compete with gifts. I only ever give books for birthdays. I would like to think that most parents appreciate the books – we all have so many toys already. Plus who can complete with the Barbie Glamour Jet that was the gift of choice for one family. While appreciated (greatly, my daughter loves it). My budget does not permit me to give this level of gift.

    This is definitely something to consider

    • amoment2think March 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm

      The idea of sharing a party is a good one! And yes, I think books are the way to go. Part of my dislike for parties is the idea of giving kids, who often already have enough stuff, more stuff.

  12. Brooke March 26, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Kellen’s first birthday was a big deal to us because it was one of the first holidays I had the energy for since moving home (and even then, I actually spent most of the day on the couch). I wanted it to me memorable. Instead, most of the moms I invited didn’t come. The reason? Another mom in our moms group was throwing her daughter a birthday party, and I wasn’t invited. So no one told us about that until another friend slipped as she was leaving. Honestly, I wasn’t close to the other mom. I would’ve loved to have known why all the other moms RSVP’ed no. It would have saved a lot of hurt feelings on my end.

    For Kellen’s 2nd birthday (in 6 months, from tomorrow), it’s going to be a two-two train party, and we’re going to ask everyone to bring a piece of train track. Easy!

    • amoment2think March 26, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      I totally understand wanting to make it memorable. But isn’t it so unfortunate how people aren’t just upfront and honest sometimes. I don’t really understand that tendency to try to ‘not hurt someone elses feeling’ by not telling them something. It almost always ends up hurting someone elses feelings.

  13. Sophie April 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    You know, sometimes I just LOVE living in a Co-op. Since our son was born, we went to not more than 2 or 3 partys for kids his age-ish that live here, and so far all the parents said in their invitation “Please no gift”. Some asked for a card instead, or a twoonie for the piggy bank. But no present. And very limited goody bags. So we didn’t feel bad about doing the same thing for our son. I just love being surrounded by parents that share my parenting values, my tight budget, or both!

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