About your birthday. I know it’s coming up. Believe me, I know. I once excitedly counted down the months, weeks, days and even minutes until your birthday, too. In fact, I would hazard a guess to say that your birthday means more to me (and your dad) than anyone else in the world. Anyone.
Maybe even you.
Suffice it to say, your birthday was the best day of my life. Hands down. Full stop. No two ways about it. The moment your scrunched-up, swollen face appeared was the best moment of my life. Ever. I will never, ever forget that moment.
I'll also never forget the love I felt that day. It was like nothing I’ve ever known before. More than you can likely comprehend - until perhaps you have a child of your own. Until then, let’s say the love I have for you is so big it could travel all the way up to the moon, around the stars, down and around the pizza place, and all the way back. Yep. That much. I love you all the time, every minute, every day. Even when you’re driving me crazy, I love you so much, I’d throw myself in front of a bus for you. Certainly, I love you far, far, far too much to let you be a jerk. And I won’t let you get away with acting like one -- on your birthday, or any other day for that matter. Sorry, kid. I just love you too much.
So, with this in mind, here’s how your birthday party is going to go down:
1. Guests: Either a very few (2-3) close friends or everyone in your class. That’s how it goes. I know a lot of mothers – specifically during ‘birthday season’, must think, Another birthday party and another one-trick LEGO set I have to buy. But, in the end, I’d rather the mother feel annoyed with me than your friend feel left out.
2. Party: We did the super-duper, electric light and lots of noise party. The one where those Oompha-Loompha characters were wandering around like they were on LSD. I know you thought they were cool. But those parties also were expensive, kind of stressed me out, and I felt like I had a hangover, afterward. Listen, I don’t want to be a stressed-out bitch on –- or leading up to -- your birthday. You don’t deserve that. Neither do I. And, as much as I love you, if I'm going to feel hungover, I want the wine bottles as evidence. So, this year, we'll have cake and balloons at the apartment. We’ll even throw in an ice cream- eating contest, fake tattoos and break a piñata. This is what my mom used to do – for all of us – in the garage. Best parties ever.
3. Gifts #1: Yes, I know your friend Joey’s mom put together a “birthday wish list,” (registry) for Joey’s birthday. What I can’t tell you right now is that Joey’s mom is an asshole. Assumedly -- and especially if Joey expects to get whatever he wants, whenever he wants it -- Joey will grow up to be the same. For now, I will just tell you there is no – and never will be – a birthday wish list.
4. Gifts #2: As I mentioned previously -- and this may come as a surprise to you – while most moms enjoy celebrations, they are also inevitably thinking: Here goes, another $20 LEGO that (she knows) will be put together and torn apart in about 5 minutes, leaving pieces strewn around the house for parents to step on (barefoot) for the rest of their lives. What I’m telling you is this gift-giving business is tricky. I’m not Cruella de Vil, so I’m not going to tell someone “no gifts.” However, if someone asks - and only if they ask -- I won’t tell them you want an Xbox, either. Instead, I will suggest something simple and inexpensive. Because the real gift is: your friends attending your party to celebrate you. The thing they give you is not important. I know you won’t understand this until you’re older. And given you're an 8-year old boy, I suspect my approach around this might piss you off. But what can I tell you? If this has really scarred you in 20 years time, let’s talk about it then. And look on the bright side: you can use that extra money I saved -- by not buying you another expensive piece of garbage -- for therapy.
5. Gifts #3: I know it’s a tradition – especially in Austria – to open gifts at the party. We’re not going to do that. I already said gifts weren’t important, so I don’t want other kids “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over what you got, or didn’t get. Besides, I know Timmy has the new Xbox and Johnny already has some Skylanders contraption. That’s great. I’m happy for them. You can go over their house and play. But you’re not getting either – you already have some pretty expensive contraptions, and I wasn’t even sure about buying you those. So, for all intents and purposes, I don’t really care if someone gets you a rock. Be happy with it. Yes, I’m serious. And no, I don’t think anyone will really get you a rock. But now that I have you thinking someone might, you will be sure to be thankful for whatever you do receive.
6. Thank you: You’re going to write your own thank you notes. I’ll sit with you to make sure each and every one is done. No problem. I don't care if it takes an hour or 10 days. But, you're going to do it, and I’m not going to write them for you. Your friends didn’t show up for me, or give me a gift; they showed up for you. So, you thank them. By the way, each note will contain at least two sentences. And, no, stickers don't count as words.
I think that’s about it. Yes, I know that other kids and their mothers might not do things this way. I have no problem with that. What they do is their business. What's ok with them, is ok by me.
But, I'm your mother, and this is how we're going to do it.
I love you, kiddo. So, so, so, so much. Far too much to let either me – or you – be a jerk on your birthday. Or any other day, for that matter. Sorry, kid. I guess I just love you that much.
Patty McDonough Kennedy is CEO of Kennedy Spencer (www.kennedyspencer.net) a marketing communication company. She splits her time between New York and Vienna, Austria, and works with companies and individuals across the world to develop effective programs that measurably improve results. In her blog ((Laugh Lines)), she writes about the funny, fabulous and messy mix of business, parenting, money & life.
Note: Patty doesn't write about or promote products or services that she hasn't personally used - and likes. She does accept contributions - stories, pictures, etc, from others, if she thinks they will help inspire or empower women.