Goodbye Inner Pinterest Party Mom!


If there is one thing I do well, it would absolutely be throwing a party. If I thought that I could deal with demanding and unrealistic people yelling at me all the time, I would have pursued becoming an events or party coordinator; instead, I went into retail. (Yes, I see the comedy in my rationale.)

On my party resume I have things such as… a children’s literature baby shower.

Goodbye Inner Pinterest Party Mom! | Duluth Mom

I did a garden tea party baby shower at Fairlawn.

Goodbye Inner Pinterest Party Mom! | Duluth Mom

I turned 30 in style, during Chicago’s St. Patricks’ Day celebration.

Goodbye Inner Pinterest Party Mom! | Duluth Mom

Onced, I spent an entire day making paper jellyfish to hang from three trees for an under the sea birthday party. Another time, I got sick during my son’s fourth birthday at a children’s museum by licking everyone’s paper for crafts; the kids thought it was hilarious.

The grand party of parties is maybe the Minion Party of 2014. My husband glued canning jar rings onto plastic hats and then an eyeball so everyone could be a minion

Goodbye Inner Pinterest Party Mom! | Duluth Mom

We even had a Box of Shame, which every kid sat in throughout the day and promptly told their parents that I made them sit in a box all day. They even went to school and said the same thing.

By the time I had my third child I was kind of partied out. I started feeling guilty that I gave the first two kids really great parties but baby 3 got a lame box store cake and a few limp balloons. Nothing says “I’m the middle kid” like a phoned-in party, especially when the fourth baby came along! I had to make a decision on where my priorities were going to be and think about why the parties felt like such a big deal.

The cool kids do it, you should too

It took awhile in actual therapy for me to realize that the parties were never about my children. Not even a little bit. At the time, I was struggling as a young mom in her 20s, so I didn’t really know who I was as a person, let alone who I was as a mom. I had little to no confidence but I really wanted people to like me. I was never that kid that people thought was cool. I never had the nicest things, I wasn’t in the popular group of people, and cool kids only talked to me when they needed help on school work, so I really felt like an outsider most of my life.

The great part of becoming a mom is that it kind of cleans the slate; you’re not just a 20-something trying to figure out life, you’re a MOM. Moms know things, moms can do anything. At the same time, I felt so much pressure because I was reading parenting magazines and going to play groups and hearing other moms talking about the latest and greatest gadgets and parenting techniques. I sat there thinking, “Here I go again- I’m still a loser. I still can’t fit in, what is wrong with me?”

With that pressure, I decided I would put my crafty skills to the test. Every year I would put on great birthday parties for my daughter and my son. I’d invite as many people as I knew, and then I would lose sleep for weeks planning and preparing things for the big event. The day would dawn and I’d have such crippling anxiety that I’d wonder why would I even doing this to myself?!

Fast forward almost a decade later, several sessions of therapy, and finally I realized I’m trying to be cooler than I am. I’m trying to out-do my own mom. I am trying to be the moms I saw growing up that were so cool and all of the kids loved them. I wanted to make other moms want to catch up to me.

I think I did that for a while; but of course, nothing lasts forever.

After I had Lucy and everything kind of went down the tubes, I lost my ability to really pull off epic parties. I remember having SO much guilt with my son’s lame-o birthday party, then Penelope’s… and the next would be Lucy’s and I felt like I really had to do something. It was her first birthday, the one-year anniversary of my dying, and oh, aren’t I so grateful? We shall have cake!

We had cake. I also had a full breakdown when everyone left and vowed never again.

Quitters are cool kids too

Now we celebrate birthdays more quietly. Instead of the money we would have put into renting a space, favors, invitations, balloons, food, etc. we make the entire day about the birthday kid. We have grandparents over for a BBQ (or whatever they choose for their dinner) and some grocery store cake, they open the present from us, we do whatever activity they want to do, and it’s easy. Surprisingly, I look forward to it more. Our teenager, who will be 15 this year, usually has a sleepover with her best friends and they eat an epic amount of Skittles and Doritos.

I no longer feel like I have to go all out to look like a great mom. I don’t have to give my kids parties that other kids want to get invited to. I have learned that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The best part is that my kids haven’t suffered. Every year they look forward to their quieter parties. I’ve learned that the only thing my kids actually want is time. They want our time and our attention. The attention from their parents is more valuable than every party attendee you can find. They don’t need the excessive presents or the crazy expensive cake (I’m an exception because I happen to love cake so spare no expense on my birthday cake, please), they just want you. They want to hang out with you and feel like the most special kid alive.

I’m not saying we should all say no to big parties, if that’s your thing, then that’s your thing. I’m saying that, as we are wading in uncharted waters with social distancing measures, you might be feeling upset about party plans being interrupted, or cancelled all together. I don’t have the answer, but I promise you, your kids will be okay. I think most of the time these parties mean more to us than they do to the kids. If all you can do is dedicate a day to enjoying time with your child, then it will still be a birthday they remember and cherish.