My youngest child and only daughter turns one on Tuesday. Due to family schedules, we celebrated her first birthday tonight with some immediate family members who live in the area. And I’ve gotta tell you, for a while during the party all I wanted to do was scout out a private place to silently sob because I felt like it was going so poorly.
Honestly, I didn’t think I had set myself up to fail. I wasn’t expecting the perfect “pinterest party” or anything of the sort. I mean, after all, this is my third child we’re talking about. We’re lucky I even remembered she had a birthday coming up (haha). But I had picked up a small assortment of purple decorations and had somehow actually managed to remember to order her a cute little purple tutu to make her birthday pictures extra special. In my mind, I had a fool proof plan and I had things under control. *sigh*
You know what’s coming, right moms? What always happens when we are convinced that we’ve planned for all possible scenarios and have an ironclad plan in place? Yep, you guessed it. Chaos ensued. Okay, so maybe not chaos, but it felt like it to me. What happened to send you into a downward swing of sadness you say?
First, let me tell you that I must not be firing on all cylinders because for some reason I had decided that this week was a good time to wean from breastfeeding. I mean, she was about one and I could tell my body was struggling to keep up anyways, so now would be a good time right? Wrong, the answer is wrong. Birthday week is not the week. In addition, the two front teeth that have been teasing us for the past month finally decided to finalize their arrival, after I had already committed to weaning of course. All of this equals one exhausted and incredibly crabby baby.
Now enter the birthday party. Because of my daughter being so upset, I wasn’t able to get the few decorations I had set up before guests started arriving. In fact, I was still in my pjs when the first guest arrived (my life ladies and gentlemen). My husband arrived home with our Famous Daves right on time, but by then I had become obsessed with getting the decorations up because I could already feel my party unraveling. The rest of the party went something like this: cold food, dining table was too small, spilled juice, baby refusing to eat even her favorite foods and somewhere around the failed attempt to have my birthday girl eat and smash her piece of chocolate cake in the family highchair (family tradition), I found myself sitting at the table quietly eating my cake and holding back tears.
How had I failed so miserably? I had been genuinely looking forward to this party and I couldn’t understand how I had screwed up the plan so terribly. As I sat there drowning my sorrows in a piece of chocolate cake, listening to the sounds of my daughter screaming and crying, I had a revelation. Most likely, my daughter wouldn’t look back on this birthday and bitterly recall how I ruined her first birthday. And in reality, there’s nothing I could do about the fact that she was teething during her party. Honestly, nobody else probably cared that I was in my pjs or that we were running late either. Maybe it was just me and here I was ruining my own party experience.
Why do we do this to ourselves moms? Why do we set these impossible standards that we pretend we didn’t set until we fail to reach them and then shame ourselves into “terrible mom” status? Why? Nobody expected anything of me. My daughter definitely didn’t expect to have the perfect first birthday party. She won’t even remember it. I know that in reality we’ll look back on the pictures of this party fondly. Anybody with children knows that a baby is going to do what they’re going to do. I don’t know why I thought I could have prevented or controlled the fact that she happened to be crabby the day of her party. I couldn’t.
I feel there’s a growing trend to place these incredibly unrealistic parenting goals onto ourselves. We see pictures and videos on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest and forget that these are just snippets of reality, or even distorted and manipulated pictures. We have to stop holding ourselves up to these impossible standards and realize that motherhood is so much more about loving our babies and making it through one day at a time. And at least for me, each day is far from perfect. Our kids won’t look back on specific “failed” moments, but they’ll look back at their childhood and remember that we took time to love them, care for them and laugh with them. So focus on those moments.
Let’s stop sweating the small stuff moms. Because that just creates a lot of unnecessary sweating. And ya’ll, that’s just gross.