I am a huge fan of party planning – whether it’s for my own birthday, or now that I am a mom, my daughter’s birthday. I enjoy it! I have a fun time thinking of great party themes, fun games to play, decorations, and having awesome food. My goal in planning a party is that everyone has a good time, has good food and drink, and leaves feeling better for having attended.
If I love it so much, why do I always feel so drained as the party time draws closer? And so glad it’s done afterwards? I would often vow to myself, “I’m never doing THAT much work again.” Something would always go awry – either not enough guests would show up, or I would end up not having enough time to do everything I wanted to do, or the food would be bad…
The icing on the cake was during the preparation for my daughter’s 4th birthday party last year. The theme decided months earlier was bowling, and her party was at an adorable little retro bowling alley in our town that had the old-fashioned ball returns and was barely updated past the paper score trackers.
I hand-printed bowling tote bags for everyone with a block print and filled them with all kinds of party goodies – bowling pin shaped cookies, pairs of socks, and rubber duckies in bowling shirts, amongst other things. The morning of the party, I was going to finish up her birthday cake (the cupcakes had been finished the night before). She said she wanted a Peanut Butter & Jelly birthday cake, so that was exactly what she was getting. I had a set of tiny little bowling pins and a bowling ball to decorate the top of the cake with.
I woke up that morning with blurred vision, which lead to the worst migraine I’ve ever had in my life. I had to sleep it off while my husband took my daughter out for her birthday breakfast, and the whole time I was trying to fall asleep I was sobbing over how horrible of a mother I was to be sick on the morning of my daughter’s birthday. A few hours later, the migraine had passed, but my to-do list was still a mile long and clearly was not going to be finished.
The party still happened, everyone still had a great time, and my daughter had the world’s ugliest birthday cake, complete with slapped on Peanut Butter frosting that barely covered the cake and some random pins on it.
It took that migraine to make me realize that despite what I’ve been told growing up, I can’t do it all. AND THAT’S OKAY! I’m not Martha Stewart. I work 40 hours a week and come home to take care of my family and home, and if time allows, myself. I go to school some of that time to try and be happier with my career. Should I beat myself up if the cake I have at my daughter’s birthday party wasn’t made by me? NO!
When I really reflected on why I was trying to do everything so perfectly, I realized that it didn’t matter in the end. No matter how much work I put into things, no one ever left a party saying, “Emily, that’s the best cake I’ve ever had in my entire life and you should quit your job and become a baker.” Nor have they said that I should be a gourmet chef, professional party planner, or just win an award for the most wonderful person in the world. (Well, not to my face. I’m sure many people think that quietly to themselves…).
For her 5th birthday this year, my goal was simplicity. I had a cake baked by a local bakery, and the price was beyond reasonable. For food, I had someone pickup 7 Hot ‘N Ready pizzas from Little Caesar’s Pizza on the way (and paid them back, of course). The party was at a house where the 4, 5, and 6 year olds could run around in the family room and play with the ridiculous amount of toys that are down there. The parents were able to stay upstairs and visit and sip on some homemade margaritas and relax. I wanted to be able to enjoy the party- I didn’t want to be stressed about a single thing, and my plan worked. The cake was HUGELY complimented, and the pizza was enjoyed. Most of all, the kids had fun and were tired, and we had a party my daughter will remember for a long time.
What I will remember longer than the details of the party were the lessons that took me 33 years to learn. I am not limitless, and I’m okay with that. I phoned it in on most of the party things that I would have stressed over before, and not only were people more than willing to help, but I wasn’t judged on it! No one cared that I was serving pizza and cake made by someone else. Truth be told, I doubt anyone ever did. I was my only critic when it came to the work I had put into parties, and it was time to shut myself up.
Once I learned to embrace my limits and focus on what was actually important, I found that I was immensely happier – and by extension, so were the people around me that weren’t subject to my last minute party panic. Embrace your limits and learn to focus on only what is truly important to you. It’s true that you can do anything you want to do – but not everything. Unless you are Martha Stewart, but even then – I doubt she can throw down with the average 5 year old who wants nothing more than to run around screaming, rather than sit down to a nice meal with a perfectly scaped table. Tablescapes! They are for the birds.
Author: Emily Miller
Biography: Emily is a mother of one, wife, full time worker, part time student, and not-enough-of-the-time crafter & blogger who’s currently undergoing her mid-life crisis by changing careers and seeking therapy through her writing. She loves to share her mistakes for others to learn from, and finds that sarcasm and cynicism are the best salves to any ailment.
Link to your social media or website: http://www.enchantinglyemily.com