Sooooo…this is another post prompted by me feeling like a weirdo in the ‘Mum Community’ (if there is such a thing – which there isn’t really but it seemed like a better phrase than ‘amongst all the other mums I’ve come across at baby groups, in Facebook groups and on forums’).
Baby Bear is just coming up for his first birthday. In fact, we’re ‘celebrating’ it tomorrow because the Wolf can’t get the day off work on his actual birthday.
This brings up two issues.
The first is that my whole blog here is titled ‘Tiny Tyger, Baby Bear and Me’. Baby Bear will technically not be a baby anymore once he turns one. What if I keep writing for years and years? Should I keep referring to him as Baby Bear when he’s at secondary school?? Of all the first world problems I’ve encountered this ranks right up there with that time I tumbled dried one sock from a pair and that sock was softer than the other one.
The second issue is the actual subject of this post. First birthdays, the stress they cause and the fact I just seem to be so very different to many other mums.
When Tyger was a baby I actually left the house every week to go to baby groups so I was friends with a load of mums with babies a similar sort of age. For their babies’ first birthdays some held parties at their houses with food for babies and mums laid out, some hired a hall, some went for soft play type parties or those sensory parties with singing and bubbles and lights and other cool stuff. All lovely and great fun for Tyger, if a little bit stressful for me both because I don’t drive so had to either walk or beg a lift and because Tyger was a little older than most of the others so tended to be at the running off stage where I couldn’t sit for even two seconds without being worried he’d be halfway down the road.
Like I said: lovely…and a lot of effort and planning and money for the parents of the baby whose party it was.
I don’t mind effort. I can manage effort, depending on what I’m supposed to be putting effort into.
I hate planning, I really, seriously hate having to plan something that involves people and places and…ugh. My wedding ceremony took place at a registrar office (albeit, a nice one) and the ‘reception’ was just a meal at a restaurant. There were 14 guests and no flowers, invitations, favours, chairs covers (this is apparently a thing people worry about). My lovely mother in law made a couple of cakes but there was no big white tower with loads of tiers and the miniature bride and groom on top (which always kind of make me think of the little angel and devil on cartoon characters’ shoulders when they have to make an important moral decision. Not like I think the bride and groom are a devil and angel but more like they’re the same sort of size and I can imagine them having a little get together…you know what, this is so irrelevant…). And, yet, even this small amount of planning was stressful for me. Having to call someone on the phone to book things…having to fill out forms…having to decide on a date and hoping it wouldn’t inconvenience anyone. *Shudder.* Don’t get me wrong; I’d have loved all my family and friends to have been at my wedding (we went for the smaller wedding because we used the money my amazing parents gave us for a deposit on a house instead of a big wedding) but I was very grateful for not having to plan something that large. I’m not sure I’d have actually made it to the ceremony if I had. So, having to plan for 20 little people and think about food and make phonecalls and all that jazz was not something I fancied doing for Tyger’s first birthday.
Money was a bit of a problem at the time. It was pretty tight and spending a fortune on something so – dare I say it – trivial just wasn’t really an option for us.
So, what happened on Tyger’s birthday? Well, I made a carrot and walnut cake. One of Tyger’s friends came round for a little bit so her mum could drop off his present and have a cup of coffee and a chat. The Wolf’s parents popped in to see Tyger open some of his gifts. And we Skyped with my mum (my dad was on a business trip) for a bit. That was it. And to be honest, that was enough to tire Tyger out and overload him with stimulation from all the fuss because…you know, he was one.
Do I regret spending his first birthday in such a low-key way? Not at all. He was a baby. He didn’t understand the concept of birthdays or presents or parties. How are we spending the day for Baby Bear’s ‘birthday’ tomorrow? I’ll make a carrot and walnut cake (seriously, it’s a fracking good cake and it has carrot and banana and nuts and cream cheese in so it’s practically a healthy meal…sort of), we’ll all (me, the Wolf, Tyger, my Mum and sisters – my dad’s on a business trip again) gather to watch Baby Bear play with the wrapping paper and boxes from all the presents he’ll have. And if the Wolf’s parents are about we’ll Skype them so they can say ‘hi’. That’s it.
If you’re the kind of person – unlike me – who enjoys planning things meticulously and who likes to spend hours making sure the wrapping paper matches the bunting (which is something I just had to google to ensure I did in fact mean ‘bunting’ so that gives you an idea of how often in my life I have dealt with it) and if you have the money then I have nothing against throwing a big party for a baby. There are things I enjoy doing that other people do not and this is something some people enjoy that I don’t. It’s fine as long as you realise it’s not really for the baby. It’s for the adults. Which is totally okay. Why shouldn’t parents get to have fun?? Go for it! There’s nothing wrong with that at all…
…But some people get very stressed about these parties and offended when family members can’t come and upset if the cake is the wrong shade of red for a ladybird and…I just don’t get it. Your baby doesn’t care that uncle Brian won’t be there because he’s on holiday with his new girlfriend in Madrid. You baby won’t notice that Grandma only stayed for an hour because she had a hospital appointment to fix her ingrowing toenails. Your baby will be delighted to get a little taste of the Peppa Pig cake even if Peppa looks like a half-crazed, pink horse instead of a weird cartoon pig. Your baby will still chew on the wrapping paper whether it’s blue with silver stars or orange with purple hearts. Seriously, you have years and years of birthdays ahead of you when your kid actually will know what’s going on and will insist on a Minecraft theme after you’ve already bought the space themed tablecloth and paper plates. When they’ll be disappointed because you got them the wrong character figure from whatever awful show is cool at the time. When they’ll change their mind seven times about who they want to invite…even after the invites have gone out. So, for at least this first year, give yourself a break!
It doesn’t matter. Honestly.