When I pressed "send" for my son's birthday party
invitation, I had a mini panic attack. I
felt like I couldn't breathe, as sweat pooled on my brow. Did I really just invite 10 little kids to
come to my house to have lunch and cake to celebrate my son?
I checked my "sent" folder. Yep, there it was: my email with the spirited subject line Come help us celebrate! The body of the invitation was only five
lines, which was all it took to give everyone the relevant information, such as
our address, the date and time.
I was panicking because it felt like it wasn't enough. My husband and I wanted to celebrate my son on his third birthday, but we
weren't prepared to rent out a jump house or mortgage our own house to have a
birthday party at one of the commercial places in Chicago. We'd debated for weeks, but kept coming back
to our gut feeling that we should keep it simple. Early in the debate we consulted the birthday
boy. When asked what he wanted, he said,
"That's it?" I asked.
"And some superhero presents."
His desires were simple.
Why was I making
this so hard?
Still, I wondered if people would think we were cheap.
As the planning moved forward, I had a hard time trusting my
gut. I tried to remember that, 1) he's
only 3 so there's plenty of time for bigger and better parties; 2) we
don't have to do what other people do and 3) we were going to find ways to
make it special (think: piñata). Still, I
wondered if people would think we were cheap. Then, I wondered if we actually are cheap.
The morning after I sent the invite, every single person had
RSVP'd "yes" except for one friend who has an out-of-town bar mitzvah that
day. No one seemed put off by our modest
party plans. I let go of being ashamed
and focused on ordering the cake and checking Pinterest for good party games.
Once the fever broke, I realized how happy I was to be
living within both our means and our values. I've got nothing against big birthday parties—I love watching my kids
enjoy those events, and someday they may be just right for us. But it didn't feel right for our family this
I'm grateful that we stuck to our plans because it's exactly
the kind of decision that I want to model for my kids—that even though most
people we know have fancier and more elaborate parties, we did what was best
for us and trusted that it was, indeed, enough.