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COLUMN: Valley of the party moms
I can still recall the exact moment I realized I had become... one of them.
Exhausted from a late night of decorating, prepping finger food and crafting hand-made bows for the goody bags –all the while consoling a teething toddler on my hip – I was ready to cry, okay sob, into my cocktail.
However, I figured that wouldn’t exactly be polite. After all, the tray of welcome spirits – each adorned with a fresh fruit slice and tropical umbrella were intended for our adult party guests, not my salty tears. Those sporting diapers and Sippy cups, like our little birthday girl, Molly, would enjoy a sugar-free, organic punch and frolic on the inflatable bouncy castle that had enveloped most of the backyard.
It was bad enough we had blown our Kraft Dinner budget on a champagne fete our daughter would simply forget. And for what? It’s not like she’ll ever look back in pictures and be upset her decor scheme didn’t match the fondant icing on her homemade three-tiered princess cake with a raspberry puree filling. Would she really care that the cups ordered online weren’t an exact match to the dollar-store plates daddy brought home on a whim?
Instead of having a little mommy meltdown before the first guest arrived, I took a wee swig, a deep breath and swore I’d never go to such extreme lengths to throw my baby the “perfect” party ever again.
And then she turned four.
Again, I found myself in the same frenzy as I tried to create a royal extravaganza for my wee princess. This time around, I stuck within our budget –Dollar Store all the way baby – and no special drinks for the parents.
I thought I did a pretty darn good job with the soiree, but that sense of satisfaction was fleeting. A month later we attended another party that was hosted by an actual “real” live princess. Both the children and the adults were in complete awe by this enchantress, who sang as sweet as the dickey birds, pranced gaily around the room and dazzled guests with pixie dust pulled from her little bag of tricks.
As we left the party, my pint-sized party pooper seemed a little distraught.
“Why didn’t I get a princess at my princess party?” she asked as tears began to stream down her pixie-dust speckled cheeks.
Other than fill her in on our modest financial situation, I really wasn’t sure what to say. Instead, I muttered a “maybe next year,” all the while hoping she’d forget all about it.
As I drove home, I began thinking about children’s birthday parties and how they’ve become so over-the-top. Once upon a time, a trip to the roller rink, swimming pool or a small get-together at home were your typical party scenes.
Nowadays, there are princesses, pirates and superheroes who make house calls at $200 a pop, backyard pony rides – even trips to the spa so your youngster and her friends can indulge in a mani/pedi session.
Even the calmest, most level- headed parent can find themselves turning into an ego-maniac when they get into party-planning mode– myself included.
With extravagant themes and venues, take-home loot that resembles Hollywood swag bags, and expensive gifts, there’s no denying the birthday business is booming.
While I’m certainly not knocking any moms or dads who do take a swing at throwing an epic birthday, this mom is going to stay out of the game.
With two pint-size princesses in our clan, there’s no chance of a happily-ever-after if we continue to blow our budget on birthday hoopla.
And speaking of story book endings, I shudder at the thought how elaborate weddings will become when and if our girls take a walk down the aisle. If that’s the case, I think I’d better look into becoming a party princess on the side and start saving. Perhaps I could pull off Snow White; after all, I’ve got the pale complexion down pat and already spend my days with little people nipping at my heels.
Kristyl Clark is a stay-at-home-mom and founder of the family blogazine, She’s a Valley Mom (www.shesavalleymom.com). She writes monthly for The Leader.