Do I Have To???

Baby girl is nearly 11 months old, so you know what that means – I am well on my way to planning a very special, grand first birthday party for her!

photo credit: Microsoft Images
photo credit: Microsoft Images

HAHA just kidding.  For my Pinterest-apathetic, moderately disorganized, majorly procrastinating self, it means means that I am now thinking a lot about the fact that I have done almost no planning for my baby’s birthday.  First-time mom FAIL.

What I HAVE done:

1) Picked a date.  Baby girl’s birthday falls on the weekend, so it was an easy choice.

2) Picked a theme.  We have bird feeders on one of our living room windows and baby girl spends probably half of her waking hours looking at said window, waving, and going, “Buh!  Buh!”  Party theme: birds.  Bam.

My biggest birthday party issue, which is likely contributing in a major way to my hesitation/resistance to party planning, is that  I am not a big party sort of person.  I’m an introvert: a little slow to warm up, definitely tending toward more solitary or small group activities, downright uncomfortable around lots of people, terrible mingler.  I’m just not thrilled about attending, let alone planning, a big event.  Plus baby girl won’t even remember it.  And will she care later on?  Have you spent even one second of your life thinking about what YOUR first birthday party was like?  Because I haven’t.

There are other issues too.  Big parties can get expensive, and our budget is already pretty stretched.  Also, our house isn’t really big enough for a large party in chilly October.  Get a venue?  Uh, I don’t think so.  And who to invite?  We don’t have many friends with kids.  Do people without kids even like going to 1-year-olds’ birthday parties?  I have lost all perspective on these things.

I have heard many people say that the first birthday party is not for the baby, but for the parents.  So again, WHY would I have this big, grand party if that’s not what I would do for myself?

I’ll admit, I kind of feel like I have to.  It’s the Facebook effect, and I can’t even tell you how annoying it is that I am at all moved by this.  But you know what I’m talking about – this pressure to “keep up with the Joneses,” at least in my own mind.  I have felt this way about a lot of motherhood-related things.  Like I totally dropped the ball on newborn photos.  Didn’t do a gender reveal party.  The belly cast kit I bought is collecting dust in the attic.  Look, I know that I don’t HAVE to do these things.  And the truth is that a lot of this stuff that now seems “expected” would have never occurred to me if I didn’t have a Facebook account.

I made an executive decision this week and talked to my husband about my desire to scale back the party.  I suggested we keep it to family and a couple of close friends only – that way, we can all sit around the living room together.  We’ll keep it casual, even get pizzas, get a cute cake, snap some iPhone photos.   It won’t overwhelm baby.  I’ll be much more comfortable.  I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised that my husband actually agreed with me and seemed relieved.

I know intellectually that I love my baby just as much as every other mom, but there is a tiny part of me that does wonder whether my unwillingness to put us through these “expected” events/commemorations says something about my commitment to motherhood.  Is this just the beginning of a lifetime of disappointments for my kid?  (“Well, Doctor, it all started with my first birthday party…”)  Ok, now I’m just being silly, but the point is this: I want to be true to myself, but I don’t want my daughter to be worse off for it.  Clearly, this is a balance that I’m still working out.

I’m curious, moms: how did you handle your first child’s first birthday?

4 thoughts on “Do I Have To???

  1. My son was baptized on his first birthday so we had a birthday/baptism party. As a result, the party was a bit bigger than I would probably have done for just the birthday. There was no major theme to the party, unless you count some Elmo/Sesame Street party plates and napkins. We served pizza, soda and I did cupcakes instead of a big cake. Everyone seemed to have a good time. However, in retrospect, I wish I had gone smaller on the guest list since my son was a little overwhelmed by the crowd. Bottom line – do what makes you comfortable!!


  2. I’ll admit, I went big(ish) for the first bday parties. But, throwing parties is my thing and I basically only had children to have more reasons to throw them 😉 Do whatever makes you comfortable – your sweet girl will feel loved and celebrated no matter what!

    ps – it is so funny to me that you would describe yourself as a terrible mingler because I didnt see that at all during our recent mingle-fest!


  3. If you are stressed about this, then you won’t enjoy it. The first birthday party is as much to celebrate your first year as it is to celebrate hers, so you should do what’s most enjoyable to you. When my kids turned 1, we didn’t do anything special – there are some Korean traditions that we participated in with just the four of us, my parents and my brother and his family. My kids had their first taste of cake and that was it…and I was SO happy about it.

    I would say take the time to enjoy the fact that she won’t really remember this birthday – because there will be plenty of other birthdays that she WILL remember in which you will feel obligated to entertain a bunch of party guests.


  4. My mother lives in a nursing home so our “hall rental” is her facility’s dining room. It was pizza and cake, and it was enough. I love when moms honor themselves, especially about the introvert thing since I am one and have a hard time giving myself permission to just let that be. Rock on.


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