It seems to me that the ability to plan and host a child’s birthday party is a staple part of being a good parent. From the carefully designed, hand-crafted invitations, right down to the unique and personalised gifts in the party bag, if you can’t do a good party you have failed at being a good parent.
Or have you?
My daughter turns three years old in a couple of months. Since she was born, the arrival of spring has always signified the arrival of birthday party thoughts. From who’ll be invited to what kind of cake we’ll offer, I’ve really thought about every little detail. Granted, things haven’t always gone according to plan (stale sandwiches last year, way too much pink plastic tat the year before) but the thought was there.
This year though, things will be different.
I had planned a big party. My intentions were to hire the village hall and outdo my efforts of the previous two years. I was going to find a children’s entertainer, make enough sandwiches to feed an army and spend a fortune on party bags. I was going to. But now I’m not.
Frog is old enough now to be able to tell us what she wants to do for her birthday this year. “I not want party Mummy,” said my little girl as we drove home from nurery the other day. “I not want anything Mummy.”
Surprised, I offered a few other options; a family day out, a trip out for lunch, a visit to friends. It turns out she is happy not to have a party. In fact, she positively can’t be bothered with one.
Instead, she wants us to drive all the way to Devon to see my parents, go horseriding wearing a new pair of jodhpurs, go out for a fancy lunch, eat homemade birthday cake, go to the beach and then listen to Olly Murs on repeat. I know, totally low maintenance.
Part of me was a bit disappointed not to have one final, big party before we move from the area. Part of me wanted to invite all her new nursery friends and watch as she mingled with all the groups of kids. Part of me could completely accept that the idea of a party was, actually, more for me than her.
But while part of me was in mourning for the party that never was, the rest was positively joyful. No need to organise a huge toddler birthday party in the middle of what will be my busiest month of the year? Fine by me.
And if that means I’ve lost some invisible mum points so be it. Now bring on the horseriding!