We experienced our very first instance of multiple birthday party bookings today. I took Liam to a classmate's party and Ryan took Sydney to a church friend's party. Poor Evan tagged along to Sydney's party as he really had no choice in the matter.
It got me to thinking about how birthday parties bring out some of my deepest parenting insecurities. For me, a child's birthday party is pretty much the equivalent of swimsuit season: it's a completely unavoidable situation in which I spend the entire time comparing myself to others.
What makes the better mom? One who bakes the cake or the one who buys a fancy one? One who hosts the party at home or one who pays a fortune to have it somewhere else? Should there be structured activities or free play time? Are crafts passe? Is everyone well-fed and having fun? How big of "swag bag" should be given to each partygoer? If you're invited to a big party, does that mean you need to bring a big or expensive gift? What will the other moms think of me if my kid has a meltdown in the middle of the party? And it goes on and on.
Taking your kid to a really awesome or expensive party is like seeing a mom of five at the beach who looks smokin' hot in a bikini. You're in complete awe and a little jealous, but the thought of putting that much work and/or money into it makes you want to cry. But then again, taking them to a really fun or unique home party is like seeing a mom of five at the beach who has a few lumps or stretch marks, but is completely comfortable with who she is. Having fun and enjoying the here and now are more important than looks or what others think of you.
So who do I want to be - the hot mom or the comfortable mom? Do I have to choose? Is it possible to be a combination of both?