Recently a friend of mine asked me to “save the date” for her daughter’s second birthday party in April. Today is February 6th.
That’s in two months, ya’ll.
Two short months until the beginning of “The season.”
Statistically speaking more babies are born between April to September than any other time of the year, therefore leading to an onslaught of party invites both for baby showers and children's birthday parties. Add to that it is also historically wedding season. This is the season of socialization. This is the season of packed weekends with pending social engagements.
Yes, this is the hallmark of suburban mom life. But I not so secretly love it.
Last year I had the chance to attend four birthday parties in one day. Due to work/life/writing balance issues, and then you know...the not-normal-political climate, for some reason I never got around to posting about my experience.
Lucky you that my friend is way ahead of the game inspiring me to finally shed light on the magical journey that was this family adventure.
First an prologue:
“The Season” is perfect to feed the socialite in me.
“The Season” haunts my husband. He is an introvert. He loses energy being around any amount of people who are not family or very close friends. He describes it as “work,” and he has to mentally and physically prepare himself for any social interaction.
So when I told him we had four birthday party invites on the same day this season, four invites that happen at four different times so that we could attend all four parties (OMG THIS IS MY DREAM COME TRUE!) he surprised me by saying, “Let’s fucking do this!”
He liked the idea of not having to invest too much energy in one party, of challenging himself and us with this task. He felt like it would naturally be a conversation starter – giving him a break from having to come up with a topic. By the time we get ‘settled’ at one party, we would need to start packing up to head to the next one. The times overlapped.
But what transpired over the course of six hours was nothing short of a journey of introspection on the life we’ve built together.
Everything Is About Perspective.
We knew for weeks going into this day that it was going to be long. We had expectations that it would be tough but could it also be fun?
Just the fact that I had decided to blog about this changed our perspective – we were actively looking for funny or entertaining moments throughout the day.
People would comment, “God, I get exhausted after going to one party!” To which we nodded in commiseration. Because typically we do too. Except we had three/two/one more party to go. And this comment started to fuel the challenge.
Could we survive this!? Will we give up at some point?
However, our perspective was different.
On our way from party #1 to party #2, my husband was driving as if he had a police escort. Bobbing and weaving through traffic, hitting every green light…He turned to me conspiratorially and said, “I’m kicking this traffic’s ass.”
He was energized and enthusiastic. Make way, traffic! We have four parties to go!
On the way to party #3, he made two wrong turns and said, without any hint of irony, “I fucked it up again.” He was annoyed. I delighted, “Safe to say you’re not kicking traffic’s ass anymore?” We laughed.
Leaving party #3 on our way to party #4 he drove around randomly through an unfamiliar neighborhood, assuming he had mastered the directions before pulling over to the side, turning to me and sighing, “Where the hell am I going?”
We busted out laughing again.
But we also noted: If I weren’t writing a blog, we probably wouldn’t be laughing. We would be sitting in tension-filled silence. An argument would have occurred.
We realized that our perspective relates to so much in our lives right now, even our marriage.
It’s no easy feat having two children under three years old, two full-time jobs, and just regular old life stress. All the challenges of parenthood can seriously suck at times. Shifting the focus to find humor has helped. Maybe it’s some fucking rose-colored glasses to be all, “Oh, but it’s your perspective that just needs to shift!”
But, I mean. Sometimes, it is! At least for some things, for sometimes. All I’m saying is it can help. It helped us.
My Kids Are Way More Adaptable Than I Give Them Credit…
We napped on the go this day. I don’t like to do this often, because I’m a massive believer in routine, and in naps in a quiet room in a bed. Surprisingly the almost three-year-old conked out on his way to party #2. HE DIDN’T EVEN MAKE IT TO TWO PARTIES, YA’LL, before passing out in the car.
The baby also napped, sleeping for about an hour in the car between parties #2 and #3.
Perhaps my favorite moment of the day was walking into party #3, grabbing a beer, walking back to our car parked on the sidewalk and handing the beer to my husband who happily drank it in solitude in an air-conditioned car while the baby slept in the backseat.
Oh please, like you’ve never drunk a beer in your idle car while your baby sleeps in the back. We weren’t driving anytime soon, and you can keep your judgey judgey pants comments to yourself.
As it turns out my husband was not the only dad sitting in a car with a baby in the back seat sleeping while drinking a beer. Once all the babies and the daddies were finally awake, they joined the party, and everyone was happy.
The two things I love about this memory: a) my friend had alcohol at her kid’s party, which wasn’t the case at all the parties, unfortunately. And b) my husband got a chance to recuperate from all his time having to be extroverted by multitasking watching over the baby while he napped. Win fucking win.
It Can be Surprisingly Fun to Say Yes, But It’s Also Okay to Say No.
This was yes on speed. This was the toddler equivalent of cake and juice and pizza followed by a bouncy house.
And because of this, we have a barometer now – if things seem particularly challenging, or unmanageable, we can always say – “Oh but hey, we survived four kid’s birthday parties in one day. So THIS is nothing.”
Of course, I’m talking about the little things the “OMG we ran out of milk” – days. The “Fuck, I forgot we have a doctor’s appointment, and we both have meetings at the same time!” - days.
But it’s also okay if we say no.
Saying no, though can sometimes feel so complicated. Sometimes there are politics involved – feelings of some obligation. Sometimes it’s a matter of networking – a boss’s party or a colleague. We won’t always be able to say no – but I’d like to try a bit more.
Because we are working parents our time with our kids can be limited. And shuttling them from birthday party to birthday party, weekend to weekend, can start to feel like another part-time job.
Saying no, without another obligation as the excuse, could feel like a slight. But it’s not. It’s just a way of acknowledging we need a break. And we need to honor our own time as a family together. And much like my introverted husband, we sometimes need the weekend equivalent of a timeout in the car, with a beer, and some air conditioning.
Overall, this was more of a positive experience than either my husband or I expected. And it puts getting invites for only one party into a perspective we weren’t counting on.
In fact, there’s something about only having one party to go to that now feels more exhausting than having the challenge of four – because what’s the fun in that?