My Son’s Big Fat Fourth Birthday Party
I wanted to give him one, but would it be worth it?
-Carrie Vining Spanier
Last year, for my son’s third birthday, we had a simple party at a public playground. This year, for some reason I don’t entirely understand, I became a sucker. Period. I’d sworn up and down that I would never fall into the parent-guilt trap. I promised I would always maintain my own identity and never, ever try to keep up with the Joneses.
However, when it came down to planning his fourth birthday party, well, let’s just say I cracked like Humpty Dumpty falling off his wall. I felt a strong urge to show my son how much my husband and I really love him. And worse, I wanted to do what everyone else has done for their children! Whether we could afford it or not, why not? How would he ever know the magnitude of our love if I didn’t throw him a kick-ass party? Maybe it would make up for all the times I yelled at him, or when I (gasp) left him with a sitter for an afternoon of rare and oh so cherished “me time.”
Yep, mommy guilt was in full effect and had taken over every logical thought in my brain. I mentally beat myself up, replaying in my mind every time I yelled, sneered or even thought bad things about my son. I wanted, no, needed to make it all right. I had to! And a super cool bounce-house party with all the fixin’s would help me do it. Yummy pizza, fabulous cake, whimsical party favors–and fourteen of his closest friends.
Every once in a while, my reasonable side broke through: Ok, calm down, mama, this is just a party for a four-year-old, not a wedding! I managed to keep reminding myself that every time I wanted to add something to the party (for a price, of course!) or when I would stress out. He is only turning four, repeat, he is only turning four!
I can’t help but wonder if he didn’t have this party, would he have been devastated beyond belief, unable to recover and require therapy at a staggering cost of $200 an hour until his mid-forties? After all was said and done, do you think he really cared? As it turned out…Ahhh, not really.