Our love-hate relationship began with Mother Nature.
A hurricane canceled our son’s first birthday party. His 2nd birthday party was never planned due to frequent visits to the PICU over some lung issues. (No need to cancel that one!)
So when his third birthday rolled around it was a BIG DEAL!
We had 2 separate parties, one for family and one for friends. There were presents and cake and the whole shebang. And guess what, none of us really remember it or the fun we had. When his 5th birthday came around, we had become accustomed to the party thing so we had another party. We did have a blast with the mud run theme. However, the party still just wasn’t what we had hoped birthdays would feel like.
In our minds, birthdays are about celebrating our kid.
He just made it another trip around the sun and we survived. This was the big deal. A birthday is about reflecting on the year, how we have grown and changed, and how we have evolved into an older (and hopefully more mature) version of ourselves.
Birthdays are not about cake and ice cream and presents, who came and didn’t come and definitely not about who was or wasn’t invited.
So for our son’s 6th birthday, we gave him a choice, a party or an experience.
He picked the experience. He wanted to go rock climbing at Go Ape! Although I am sure he would’ve loved to have had 15-20 friends there to climb with him, he was also just as happy having his buddy he doesn’t get to see very often join us. So we made a day of it and with his buddy’s family traveled to Williamsburg for a tree climbing adventure, lunch at a fancy Chinese place and then an afternoon at a playground. It was memorable, the kind of solid fun that is much more than casual small talk with the friends he sees every single day.
So we quit parties.
We decided we should honor the parties our first son celebrated and would offer his siblings birthday parties for the 3rd, 4th and 5th years but then after those, we would encourage experiences with 1 or 2 of their best buddies.
It makes my husband and I feel a little more in charge and not a slave to Pump it Up (although don’t get me wrong, I love that place, germs and all).
I have had a few moments of “What have I done?!”
This feeling was especially present when Boomerang Air Sports opened because that place is amazing. But ultimately, my kids will still get to do really cool things. We just decided this was how we could keep their birthdays about celebrating them as an individual.
How does your family handle birthday parties? Big parties with the whole neighborhood or small intimate gatherings? Share with us!