This month has been birthday party explosion with sprinkles. Rachael had a party last weekend, three this weekend, (for four different kids) and one next weekend. Thank goodness Rachael wasn’t born in August like she was supposed to have been. (She came on her own a month early. Stand down, crunchy birthing mamas.) With each party comes a whirlwind of running, screaming kids, good food, adults who don’t know each other making small talk, making time stand still with the help of iPhones and DSLRs, and faces smeared with icing. Being an introvert, these parties can be hard for me, (I figure I’ll need a week to recover from this weekend) but I love seeing how these celebrations come together. I have no shame in admitting that I will totally
use as inspiration appropriate steal elements of parties which work well.
In the last week, I’ve seen a few articles/blog posts talking about getting back to simplicity in children’s birthday parties. Some talk about it in the first person, while others entreat others to calm the fuck down. I know that I’m one of those moms who needs to take a beat. God knows Mike would be happier if I did. When I read these posts, my initial response was to get defensive. It’s possible the words “cunt punt” came to mind. (I am forever indebted to the sorority chick who used that term. It’s a fucking masterpiece. Mwah!) But the more I thought about it, the more I decided that it might be wise to actually examine why I do what I do.
1) 30 Rock Fight Club
(30 Rock is one of my favorite shows of ever, so get used to the references. If you haven’t seen the glory that it is, stop what you’re doing and watch it on Netflix. Do it now!)
In the episode, Jackie Jormp-Jomp, Liz Lemon is placed on leave for sexual harassment. Bored out of her skull, she ends up spending time with a group of highly educated, unemployed by choice women in her building. As it turns out, these ladies who lunch have a secret: they have a Fight Club. With no outlet for their creative energy, they channel it into beating the ever loving shit out of each other.
We know that energy cannot be destroyed, only transferred or transformed. When I stopped working, my creative energy needed to go somewhere. I was no longer able to write letters in “bitchy business”, requesting a court order for the 5 millionth time. I was no longer asked to help put together work parties where the same people always complained. So clearly, the next logical conclusion for channeling energy was cake. It’s one of the lesser known subpoints of the Law of Conservation.
Jane Austen Fight Club. You’re welcome, internet!
2) I’m a scaredy cat
I don’t like failure. I have a tendency not to attempt things if I think I’m going to fail. But I’m trying to change that. One of my fears of failure is in the culinary realm. I have a tendency to shy away from recipes that look like they’ll be too hard or from foods I’ve never cooked before. Part of the reason I end up trying to do something others might consider crazy or over the top is because of the challenge of it. I’m trying to learn and grow. I just want to see if I can do it. Sometimes there are major failures, like the time I ate grilled cheese and jelly beans for dinner because I ruined our Easter lamb chops and eggplant ricotta napoleons. “Ah ha!” you say. “But people never post/talk about their failures!” False! I talk about my failures all the time. I posted on Facebook about that Easter dinner. I have shown pictures of cakes that deflated because they were still raw in the middle. People have seen my bandaged hands from epic pumpkin separation failures. But I also would like to share my triumphs. No one gets all up in arms because someone completed a marathon and tweeted about it. No one feels like someone is a fucking show off for becoming a published author. People who plan events or make cakes for parties for a living aren’t crazy people who want attention. Why is this different?
3) It’s all about me AND making others happy
We didn’t have a lot growing up. My dad was a pastor for the first seven years of my life, and we didn’t have double income until my mom started working when I was about 10. I had a few birthday parties, but not too many. Big parties were extras. Don’t get me get me wrong, my parents always made sure that we celebrated. I had my Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip ice cream pie and felt loved. But if I’m honest, I do wish that I had had the parties that we’ve thrown and that I’ve been to for our friend’s children. By that, I don’t mean that I wish for the best cake or largest moon bounce. (Okay, 10 year old me does think a moon bounce would be pretty cool.) I miss the community, adults and children coming together and having that camaraderie. So I guess I am indulging some childhood fantasy. You caught me.
But I also like to make others happy. I have a little Monica Geller inside who likes playing hostess and making sure everyone has a good time. I have friends with dietary restrictions. It thrills me when I am able to accommodate their needs. I have a tendency to go overboard with food to make sure everyone gets what they need. I am learning to scale back the more I do this. I know I tend to do too much, and that sometimes I do need to calm the fuck down.
I also love the reactions my girls have. When Rachael, without prompting, says thank you for her party; when she and Zoe squeal with delight over their cakes; when Rachael wants to get involved and help because she’s so excited; when they gasp because they think the decorations are beautiful, it just melts my heart and makes me want to give them the world.
4) I come by it honestly
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My mom also likes planning and executing things, whether they be for parties, church events, or just decorating for Christmas.
Fortunately, I have inherited some of my father’s laid back personality, so when the creative flood of ideas come into my mind, Ooo, we could totally make a giant mast and sail and attach it to the deck to make it look like the deck of a pirate ship!, the practical and chronically fatigued side battles back with a resounding Aw, fuck it. So you see, it could be worse! Mwahahahahahaha!
(And can I just say, my mother has yet to throw a bad party.)
So there they are, the reasons why I do what I do. Maybe they’re not good reasons, but they’re my reasons. And don’t worry. I judge people for the parties they throw, too. People who hire clowns are fucking crazy!