The content of the posts rapidly become clearly divided between those trying to support the fiscally aware Mum through cute, yet frugal, party suggestions and constructive cost cutting measures…and then there are The Others.
The Others almost encourage taking out a personal loan to fund their child’s first birthday. Now if you can afford to service that loan, it’s your choice…if you want to hire a petting zoo, pony rides, 3 course silver service at a winery with a face painter/balloon artist. (Yes, I’ve heard them all. And ok, I confess, I did hire a face painter…mainly because I wanted to have a champagne in peace on the day.)
But comments from The Others like ‘He/she will only have one first birthday, so make it memorable’ make me cringe. Guess what, your baby will only have one second, one third and one fourth birthday too. I’m not sure whether it’s the tautology of the statement ‘one first birthday’ which irritates me more, or the implied guilt you should be feeling behind it. And we all know I’m always up for a redheaded rant against Mummy guilt.
(No, this wasn’t one of my kid’s first birthday parties…but it was someone’s!)
There was a huge difference between the celebration of my daughter’s first birthday and my son’s.
My daughter had a catered spit roast BBQ lunch at home, which went for over 5 hours. For approximately 50 people. Four types of meats, five salads, five desserts, bread rolls, gravy. I even hired a face painter and balloon artist to keep the kids entertained so the adults could have a drink in peace. An Aunt bought the cake, I purchased the decorations from Coles but then spent about $150 on helium balloons. In my head I justified the expense as a housewarming/first birthday party celebration.
Meanwhile my daughter slept through three of the 5 hours. She then woke up and strongly disagreed with our choice of a beautiful party dress with hand smocking and pink rosettes purchased by her doting Grandmother. It slowed her down from crawling to investigate what all the noise was about and ‘OHMYGOD THERE ARE SO MANY LEGS IN MY WAY…WTF?!’ Yes, the party was for me, not for her, and I make no apologies for that. I wanted to thank my friends and family for their support during a difficult year in which I was learning how to be a good Mother, wife and a career woman. (Still learning, four years on, incidentally.) And the whole party cost A LOT. Ouch-but no regrets.
My son had two smaller birthdays, both afternoon teas. The first party had a ‘Nautical theme’ in my childhood home with my family and closest school friends… I confess my Mum did most of the cooking and cleaning up.
The second party, ‘Australia Day/First Birthday’ was back in our home…but again with a much smaller group of friends who had been there for me through it all, who had phoned, texted, messaged through all of the hospital visits and offered meals, grocery shopping or a listening ear. This time it was important for me to recognise those who didn’t just give me support-but who had helped keep me strong-that’s a deeper level of friendship.
I went to a $2 party shop and bought all of the decorations and ‘cutlery and crockery’. For both parties. One of my best friends made this amazing cake (Yes, I will repost the picture because it’s actually beyond amazing).
Catering for both parties was purchased from the prestigious hospitality supplier, Costco. This time BOTH parties cost almost a third of the cost for my daughter’s and for a total of 40 people. But I had other expenses now-I couldn’t justify spending on a party what would have been school and childcare fees for the fortnight.
I have no guilt about the difference in birthday expenditure. Not a bit, and not having Mummy guilt is rare for me. There will always be inequities between my children, but I can keep them at a minimum (I hope) as they get older. I’m still learning be to be a Mum, after all.
In response to the guilt ridden, first time, first birthday Mum’s post, I was glad to read the replying posts of Mums who had spent $10 on an iced sponge from Woolies with candles and balloons just for their immediate family. I was also glad to read the unapologetically excited Mums who happily spent $1,000 plus on a catered event. And I was grateful that any judgement from The Others was quickly shut down.
Simply- the choice is yours, just remember that your son or daughter won’t care what you decide. It is actually about you-and that’s ok because you probably haven’t had much about you over the year. So don’t over-think it, you really don’t have the time and don’t need the stress. Regardless of your choice, you will look back on your child’s first birthday as special and memorable because it was the first of many and you all survived the first year of parenthood, tired, but intact. And that knowledge and experience, like the love for your child, is priceless.
Happy first birthday, Mummies. Now pour yourself that well earned glass of champagne.