Second Birthday As A Mommy

At the beginning of this month, I celebrated my 29th birthday. As long as I can remember, I have not really been a birthday person. The idea of celebrating entirely for me has always left me feeling awkward. However, now that I am a mom, I am trying to embrace celebrations.

Trying.

This year was a difficult one to really try and embrace the celebrations. It was a cold day on the 9th and my husband was working long shifts. My sister was also working which meant the two people I would usually celebrate with were unavailable, and if I am being perfectly honest, it was something of a relief.

As much as I told myself I wanted to lean into my birthday this year, I really didn’t want to. Getting older has always been an odd thing to celebrate for me.

A lot of people kept asking me what I did. Like my birthday was a grand event that needed to be thoroughly celebrated. I spent my day much like I have spent most of my days for the past 14 months; with my daughter.

We played all day, practiced her walking, I taught her some coordination games. Honestly, there was no better way to spent the day than with my favourite person.

As much as I want to make every celebration special for my daughter, there was nothing more special to me than just spending time with her.

These last two birthdays with her as a huge part of my life have been the best birthdays of my life.

A Whole Year Spent

It’s crazy to think that a little over a year ago I was an independent person. I was in charge of when I ate my meals, when I slept, what I did with all my time. I showered and slept alone, slept in, and spent my time however I wanted to. I arrived for appointments and functions ON TIME.

A year ago, I was a completely different person. I was not yet a mother.

And then she arrived.

Her birth couldn’t come fast enough, but once she arrived, it seemed as though time jumped into hyperspeed. If you asked me when she was born, how it all went, I could retell the story as though it were just yesterday. Every detail of that day is still so vivid in my mind. Yet, when I look back over this past year I can’t believe where all the time went.

How did I get here?

I’d love to use this post to look back and tell you all the things I’ve learned along the way. I could say that after a year, I have parenthood all figured out, but that’s not true. Every day is another battle, and I am standing in the line of fire with no armour armed with nothing but a banana and some Gerber Puffs.

One thing I have learned is there is no such thing as a perfect parent. What is perfect for one child will be chaos for another. You can feed them organic everything, never feed them artificial sugars or processed food and still feel like you’re losing the battle. You can cook a quick, easy meal that requires mostly heating up and feel like you’re killing it.

When you strip all the Instagram photos away, wipe off the make-up and the forced smile you wore through eight repeat playings of Old MacDonald, the only thing that really matters is your baby’s happiness.

Whether that means scheduled naps, healthy snacks, playdates and book time, or endless cuddles, eating from your bowl, and watching movies, their happiness outranks everything else all those articles are telling you to do.

Take lots of pictures, live in the moment as often as you can. Skip cleaning, or doing the dishes, they will always be there but your baby won’t always be so small. You’ll blink and they’ll be gone and you’ll be missing it all, wishing you had stolen more moments with you babies while you had them.

Love them as much as you can while they let you! That’s the best way to be the best parent you can.

Baby’s First Birthday

I have been to so many first birthday parties as an adult, I honestly couldn’t tell you how many. Everything comes in waves. You reach adulthood and there is a time in your life where it seems everyone you know is getting married, and of course, soon after everyone is having babies.

With my own baby girl’s birthday closer than I would like, it’s really got me thinking about first birthday parties.

My initial thought about my daughter’s birthday was to skip the party. I know, I know. I can hear so many parents out there gasping even as I write it, but let me tell you why. I think in this age of technology, a lot of people do things just for the photos. They want to throw these huge elaborate parties so they can post all the photos on Instagram and have their followers look at them and think; “I wish I could throw a party like that!”

Personally, my thought was to keep the whole occasion centred around my daughter and what she likes (Crazy, right?). I was going to do a small get together at my mother’s house, maybe have a barbecue or something, and put most of my time and effort into her Cake Smash photos. No-fuss, no muss, no coconuts. My thought in all this was that my daughter sometimes gets overwhelmed and burnt out when there are too many people around, and when she gets overwhelmed and burnt out she gets extremely cranky. A cranky birthday girl would definitely ruin her birthday.

However, with the knowledge that my husband’s parents are coming all the way from the East Coast to celebrate her first birthday with us, I kind of felt like maybe I would need to put a little more thought and planning into the day. So I started (very last minute, I might add) to put more of the typical birthday party together.

One thing I think a lot of parents need to come to grips with and fess up to, is that the first birthday is in no way, shape, or form for your child. We can pretend it is all we want because the celebration is about them, but it’s really for all the adults who will attend because our little ones are never going to remember this birthday.

Although I have no problem with a first birthday party being centred more around the adults, I feel like we have to be realistic about it and honest. A lot of parents like to masquerade around this fact and what ends up happening is you end up with a birthday party for kids, where the bulk of your guests are adults which, to be honest, is just really inconvenient.

I can’t tell you how many kids parties I have been to where the parents invited over 30 adults to the party and there were maybe 10 kids. Is that bad? No, as parents you have every right to celebrate with some adults. You have made it through your first year and that was no small feat. With that being said, plan your party with those adults in mind.

Why? Because it isn’t fair to the parents of the 10 kids that arrived for you not to.

A lot of you read that and are wondering “What the hell is she talking about?”. Well, of course, I am going to tell you.

One of the huge things a lot of parents planning a party who invite more adults than kids don’t account for are two things: seating and food.

What usually happens when you invite adults who don’t have kids, is they sit down and socialize. They are a bit more removed from it all because a lot of them just don’t know what to do or whether they should interact with the kids. It’s a little awkward for them to find their place at a kid’s party, so they sit. Which is absolutely fine. But for the parents who have trekked their kids to your party and chased after them while at your party, it isn’t really fair to them that there be no seating left. They really do need a few moments where they can sit down, have some food, and have some adult interaction while at the party too. Plan for this.

Another thing is the food. I don’t want to be that person, and when I attend a kid’s party I usually just roll with the punches, but you can’t plan a kid’s party with kid food only if you plan on inviting more adults than children.

I get it, your an adult and you want to invite your adult family members and best friend etc. I also understand that it’s so much easier to have hot dogs and chips and pizza, but I think you should really plan for the adults as well. Don’t go overboard! You don’t need steak dinners for every adult there, but a cheese and meat tray, some veggies, maybe even some easy appetizers would be something to consider putting out.

Another big thing is making sure you provide activities for everyone and be okay with the fact that not everyone is going to stay as long as you wanted them to, especially the adults.

With all of this in mind, I really had to think about her party. Ideally, a restaurant with a party room would have been my first pick. We don’t have to worry about food, everyone can choose what they want to it as opposed to having to eat kiddie foods, and absolutely no clean up for me! After some research, I realized that unless you are doing a wedding or a business dinner, there aren’t really too many options down this road.

(Insert exasperated sigh here)

I am hoping the party room pans out but if it does, that means I am going to have to plan for food. I would do pizza for the kids since my daughter has recently discovered pizza and loves it but would have to think a little outside the box for the adults.

This is the first party that I have to plan for my baby girl, and I have to say I am not thrilled with how much work it is all turning out to be. If I am being honest, I would love sticking to the original no fuss plan.

Is it too late to throw in the towel and go back to the no party idea?

Age Appropriate Birthday Parties For Kids

At 36 weeks and 4 days I begrudgingly got out of bed and staggered, eyes still shut, towards the bathroom. I had slept in longer than I had anticipated because these days, I usually do. All that was on my schedule for the day was my two-year-old nephew’s birthday party.

Sighing dramatically, I tried to find an outfit that would allow me to walk around all day without my feet turning into roasted honey hams, and something that could be worn in the heat but would protect my thighs from chaffing. Getting dressed these days is a battle that I am constantly losing and it really rains on the start of my day.

With the bags under my eyes covered, and my hair pretty much all in place, I opened my weather app to check out the forecast. The birthday party was 100% outside and I wanted to know what I was in for.

Rain. Scattered thunderstorms.

Immediately, I took off the comfortable orthopedic flats I had on and put on some sneakers, put on some yoga tights and a comfortable t-shirt that could be worn under my light rain jacket.

It was going to be a rainy day, and it was also going to be crazy humid and hot. Suddenly, I found myself wishing I didn’t have to go. I am a pregnant woman who will have nothing to do at Toronto Island’s Centreville which is a small amusement park for kids. Of course I want to see my nephew, but the party is actually a week and a half before his actual birthday. I would much rather see him on the day, get some one on one time with him and not be out in the rain.

Mentally I battled with myself about going and told myself to just go.

Which meant I had to drive downtown to my mother’s where I could park for free (parking downtown is atrocious), then we had to Uber to the Ferry Dock, take the Ferry across to the Island. Walk through the island to the amusement park area and find where they had set up the party tent.

It rained on my drive to my mom’s which was already a bad sign. Rained a bit in the Uber and then it seemed to die down. The wait for the ferry was short and dry but once we got on, it again started to spit. Right away I could feel that wet chill in the air and was happy to have worn my rain jacket, but kicking myself on my decision to go. This close to delivering, I was nervous that I would get sick. I am already fighting off constant discomfort and misery.

We got to the party tend which was only big enough to cover two of the four picnic tables and it started to pour. It rained for about fifteen minutes, big, heavy raindrops. This happened four times before I finally said my goodbyes and left.

On the ferry ride home with my younger brother, who is 18, we wondered about the choices of a lot of parents. My nephew was 2. Although a lot of his guests were between the ages of 6-10 (aside from the adults, and there was only one other guest there his age), having a party at a place where he couldn’t even go on any of the rides didn’t really make sense.

He was completely happy with an umbrella, running around the grass and chasing the birds. They had spent a great deal of money on a venue that made absolutely no sense for a 2 year old.

It got me thinking about all the other parties that didn’t make sense for the kids and the guestlists. When children are that young, the simplest things make them happy. When I was a kid, we had parties at my house. Friends came over and had food and cake and they left after a few hours. We never really went anywhere for our birthdays.

My husband was raised pretty much the same way.

Although I am not against taking your children somewhere for their birthdays, I don’t understand bringing them somewhere they can’t even really enjoy. Who is the party for at that point?

Most of the older kids had run off, they were going on rides and keeping busy. The parents seemed to hang out together with the four children who were under the age of two. Other parents stood around smoking and keeping themselves busy.

The birthday boy was being chased by myself, my sister, and my mom to keep him away from the little pond where they had swan paddle boats that was about twenty feet in front of us, and the train track for the train ride that was ten feet behind us. Although him being chased was the time of his life, we could have done that anywhere, and we could have done that inside somewhere, dry where most of these kids wouldn’t be complaining about cold side effects today.

When your child is under the age of five and you plan these types of parties, who are they for?

I had suggested an indoor playground where there had been a party room and everything from a ball pit for the younger kids, climbing structures, trampolines, everything to keep all the kids busy. Plus, it works for any weather. The party room is a place all the parents could hang out without being in the way and always knowing exactly where their kids were.

Waking up today, with a cold, I wished they had thought about a party that made more sense for a 2-year-old and the weather.

I hope I am more logical when my baby girl arrives.

Who knows, maybe I am just pretending to know what I am talking about now, and will be just as silly later.