Here a Party, There a Party, Everyone has a Party

Birthday parties!  I have a love/hate relationship with these.   I don’t like planning them and for the most part I don’t like going to them either, but I know that they are an important part of my children’s youth.

Before I had Davey, the trend of themed parties was starting to come to light.   For his first birthday, I somewhat jumped on that bandwagon and planned him a nautical themed party.   I didn’t go all out with decorations and I most certainly did NOT have little goody bags for the guests.   Most of the guests were family anyways, while others were people who I had just met since becoming a stay at home mom.  It was a great birthday, but definitely not up to a party planners’ caliber.

The following year, I had a Mickey Mouse clubhouse themed party and while I went a little bit further with it, I still didn’t go to extremes.  I even managed to tone down the guest list.   By the time Davey’s third birthday came around, I had Henry who was 10 months old and I’d learned a few things regarding parties, what I wanted and expected out of them, and what was really and truly worth the effort.

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Davey’s Mickey Mouse clubhouse birthday cake custom made by one of my best friends. She did (and still does) magnificent work!

I decided that I no longer wanted to have the parties at my house.  It’s a bit stressful preparing for a party and keeping a clean house with two boys, one grown man, and a dog.   I also decided that I didn’t HAVE to invite those family members who I only see once every other year.  In most cases, they were invited to save face, but every time they declined to show.   Now I just don’t bother.

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Continuing with the theme for Davey…not doing these anymore.

I also decided that theme parties are ridiculous, at least for me they are, and truthfully my kid isn’t that concerned.   He just wants to have fun at some place he doesn’t go to everyday and with kids he can see outside of school.   For Davey’s third birthday, I had his party off site and we invited a ton of people.   My heart literally shattered when only 4 kids showed up.   Davey didn’t care so much, but I did.   I was pissed (still am to this day) at friends who didn’t show up.   Again, it bothered me more than Davey.   After that 3rd party, when I reserved a spot for 15 kids, with less than a third even RSVPing (come on, people, you’re adults.  A simple yes or no works), I decided to reevaluate what may be keeping parents from bringing their kids, which then had me thinking, “what makes me NOT want to go to a party?”

First thing is gifts.   I have enough stress in my life, enough things to keep on a calendar, that trying to go out and buy a gift for a 3,4,5 year old, whom I don’t know very well, is just a bit daunting.   I spend what feels like a lifetime in the toy section trying to find something not too dinky, but within my budget.  There are a select handful of kids who I will do this for, but really I don’t like doing it.   I have enough toys in my house, so many in fact that I had to shuffle them in and out.  Of course the necessity of buying a gift doesn’t keep me away from going to parties, but it’s still a pain in my ass.

So, what do I do with the gift headache?   Last year, I implemented a new policy where gifts are concerned.   There are people who feel they MUST by a gift.  I had a few people tell me they were disappointed that my child wasn’t getting gifts.   It’s a celebration, a party, a chance to have something that lasts longer than toys…memories and friends.   Since I knew people would want to buy a gift, I encouraged them to go to one of my favorite charities, the GHS Children’s Hospital, and a buy a gift for a child who is in the hospital, a child who doesn’t get the luxury of going out for parties.   I had thought it would be a hit, but alas only one set of parents bought a gift for a child in need.   That genuinely broke my heart.

Second thing is food.   I try to schedule my parties around a meal time so that encourages parents to want to bring their kids, because at least they don’t have to worry about dinner.   I make sure to have enough food for the parents as well.  If it means you will bring your child to my child’s party, then I will supply you with a meal.   All my kid wants is to hang out and have fun.

Third, has to do with activities.  When I was a kid, we had birthday parties at our house and my friends and I played out in the backyard barefoot with whatever toy was there.   We created our games, played sports, and ate cake and ice cream.   The parents were always on the porch or patio, not hovering over the kids trying to dictate what the kids should be playing.   For some strange reason, it seems that this day that just a big fat no no with parents, so I just have the parties off site at some sort of activity center where I don’t have to beat myself senseless trying to come up with activities.   Yet another thing that’s a pain in my ass.

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Henry’s first birthday…no theme and he was happy.

I know, a lot of you are asking me about the gift situation right now.  I can see you telling me it’s not fair to deprive my child of an essential part of his childhood by not giving him gifts on his birthday.   To that I say, “back up and hold the phone.”   My children do receive gifts.   We have a small little birthday dinner, with my parents, aunt, and cousin, along with my mother-in-law every year where my children receive toys.   They have gifts to open, so I’m not taking away their chance to open gifts.   I know this is something that will keep me from attending a child’s party (not every child’s) and if I feel this way, I know other parents do as well.   If I can alleviate that stress (usually the biggest headache for a parent taking their child to a birthday party), thereby encouraging more of my children’s friends to show, then I am a happy mom.

Birthday parties are a dime a dozen.   When you become a parent, there are so many of them to attend, more than I ever recall attending when I was a child.   It seems as if we’re receiving invites to a new party at least once a week and I know that’s only going to get worse as Henry is officially old enough to be in school and have friends of his own.   Yet another party to plan and another whole set of parties to attend.  It comes with the territory of being a parent, but why not find ways to be considerate of the other parents when planning the party.   I know it’s the child’s special day, but even on his special day, consideration for others is always a must, at least in this household.

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Henry’s first birthday….look at that smiling face.
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I Did NOT Put This on My List

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of exhaustion, for those elves who’ve stayed up well past their near geriatric bedtimes to put together all of Santa’s toys.   It’s a morning of anticipation for little ones as they try to contain themselves inside their rooms until the appropriate hour to awaken mom and dad, aka the elves.   For our house, appropriate time is when the digital clock in the bedroom reads 7:00.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of overwhelming excitement as children tear into their gifts, eager to see if the Santa at the mall, or the Elf on the Shelf, really does communicate with the “real” bearded fat man.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of reflection on our lives, who we are, what we’ve been, and Who was born on this day to save us all.

Christmas morning for me?   Well, that’s a whole different story, at least for this year.   This Christmas, I spent it wrapped up under four blankets, while everyone else walked around in shorts and flip flops with the A/C blaring.  It was 70 degrees and humid.   And as the sweat dripped down my forehead, over my arms and down my chest, I shivered and ached away.   For Christmas this year, the old fat man brought me a 102 degree fever and a case of strep throat.

My boys opened their gifts.   Did I get to play with them?  No.   My family opened their gifts.  I opened my gifts, although my fever had me a bit on the dopey side so I didn’t realize how wonderful my gifts were until Sunday.   My husband made a fabulous French toast and sausage breakfast.   It smelled good at least.   My family (parents, aunt, cousins) came to enjoy Christmas dinner at my house.   Me?  I was quarantined upstairs.   There was no fine China this year, no drinking from my grandmother’s crystal, no eating in the dining room, while listening to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole croon.   Instead they crowded around the kitchen table, but still enjoyed themselves all the same.

Today as I began taking down my Christmas decorations, an overwhelming sadness washed over me.   I missed Christmas.   In my 40 years on this earth, I’ve never missed Christmas.   It saddened me, almost as much as it saddened me when we realized we would no longer have Christmases with my brother nearly 10 years ago.

The days flew by, the weeks were inundated with parties, gatherings, socializations, but I still felt empty and I was hoping for that Christmas magic on Christmas morning.   I’m saddened over not enjoying a dinner with my family, it’s not every day when we’re able to get together like this.   I’m saddened over no family pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  We’re not guaranteed another day.   Which one of us may not be here next year?

My boys were clueless to mommy’s absence, thanks to Santa and my family.   I’m grateful for that.   Truly, I am.   I’m grateful for a family who gets along together so well that there was harmony between them and my husband in the kitchen.   They were apparently like a well-oiled machine.   “We just seemed to fit together,” my husband said.  “Least amount of stress I’ve ever had in the kitchen.”

I suppose I should look at this bout of strep throat in a different light.   At least it happened when my husband was home and didn’t have to work the next day.  He was up every 3 hours trying to get my fever to break.   At least I was able to actually get some rest while being sick, an anomaly in itself.   In the end; however, I keep going back to one thought over this horrible Christmas…what did I do so wrong this past year for Santa to feel like I deserved strep throat as a present?   How about just keeping me off your list altogether, Santa, if this is how it’s to be.

I hope you all had a wonderful, family-filled, waistline bulging, ugly sweater wearing, Christmas Story watching, action packed, and most of all BLESSED Christmas.

My Greatest Christmas Gift

From the very moment I’d found out that I was pregnant with Henry, I knew this pregnancy would be 100% different from my first.   I was terrified, selfishly, and it impacted how I went about my days with Davey.   I was sick, tired, and moody.   For the longest time, I was convinced Henry would be a girl.

His actual birthday was to be December 20th, but thanks in part to my previous C-section and my desire to not have his birthday so close to Christmas, Henry Bruce Doser was born on Friday the 13th in 2013.

Yesterday, we celebrated the 2nd birthday of my second and final biological child.   And much like with his big brother, I put him to sleep last night with the story of his birth, which went a little something like this.

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Prince Henry’s first official picture.

Once upon a time, the king and queen decided to add another prince to their family.   Their oldest was just a little over two years in age, when the second prince made his entrance.   He was scheduled to arrive at 1:30 on Friday the 13th, but by 8 am that morning he started making his imminent arrival known.   The queen dealt with cramps and lower back pain, those that nearly mirrored her kidney stones from 14 years prior (at this Henry looked at me and laughed).   She gripped tightly to the king’s arms as he walked her into the hospital.

The queen was placed in a room with machines hooked up to her and wrapped around her belly.   The king sat alongside of her, occasionally stroking her arm, but mostly watching a Chuck Norris movie on television.  The incessant beeping of the machines, coupled with the contractions and the king’s inability to empathize, forced the queen to make a decision…The king was to be banished and the Queen Mother was to arrive.

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As the hours went by, the Queen and her mother discussed upcoming Christmas plans, what it was like for the Queen Mother to give birth so many years ago, and what sort of crazy family member was doing the unthinkable.   Finally the time arrived when the queen was to go into surgery and so the king joined her.

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A half hour later and Prince Doser II was born.   He wailed and he squirmed, making his entrance known.   He was just an ounce heavier than his older brother and the same height.   What a fine looking young prince he would be.   And in royal fashion it was decreed he would be named Prince Henry Bruce Doser.

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Prince Davey meeting Prince Henry.

 

A short time later, Prince Davey, the older prince, entered the glass tower (as he called it) to meet his younger brother.   Prince Davey held tightly to the newborn prince, cradling him lovingly in his arms, even leaning over to kiss him.   The queen sat in her bed, staring at her beautiful boys and thanked the Lord for the blessings He bestowed upon her.   And from that moment forward they lived happily ever after.

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Prince Davey giving Prince Henry his first brotherly kiss.

Every parent has a tradition, be it big or small when it comes to celebrating their children’s birthdays.   This is mine.

Henry laid in his bed, listening intently to my words, his thumb in his mouth.   Occasionally he smiled, but mostly he listened and stroked my hair.   At the end of my story, he kissed my cheek and said, “hap birthday me, mommy.”

My days become inundated with the grind of raising two boys, the stress, the guilt, and the pain, but I wouldn’t trade one second of any of it.   And people tell me I’ll miss these days.  I laugh in their faces, but I know the days are coming when hearing their birth stories will no longer be wanted, that the hugs will diminish, and the cuddles will become obsolete.   It saddens me and I realize these are some of the best days of my life and I WILL miss this.

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Eating his birthday cake. Happy 2nd birthday, Prince Henry.

As I kissed him goodnight, he whispered, “love you, mommy” and I melted.   He was, and still is, my greatest Christmas gift.