I never thought I’d be one of those moms. A Pinterest mom. Let’s face it, I never expected to be a mom at all. I don’t go gooey over babies and little kids seem sticky and confusing. I’m terrified I won’t know how to talk to them or keep them entertained. I definitely thought if I did actually become mom, I’d be a “cool mom.” More Brooklyn hipster mama than Amy Poehler in Mean Girls.
But when my daughter’s first birthday approached, a crazy crafty mom switch flipped on and I haven’t been able to go back since. See, I discovered that themed kid birthday parties are my jam.
My daughter’s first two celebrations were all Star Wars, all the time. Year three was a Frozen meets Star Wars mash-up. Last year, it was a costume party and this year it’s all about Trolls. I’m currently researching how to make forest tablescapes. I’ve been watching DIY YouTube videos in order to handcraft thirty individual Troll-hair headbands. I paid a silly amount to have retro mini Troll figurines shipped from Japan. I am out of control.
My wedding budget was only $2,000. Twenty people came to the ceremony and then we threw a backyard party at my cousin’s house. Friends and family kindly contributed their skills for free and it was relatively low-key. Same goes for the relaxed coed baby shower our friends threw us. There were “Star Wars” terrariums and a Death Star pinata (very cool!), but the whole thing wasn’t over-the-top. So before my daughter was born, I was never able to wrap my head around the women with a dozen bridesmaids and blush and ivory color schemes at their wedding. I didn’t get the baby shower themes and silly games. I appreciated the effort, but I just couldn’t relate.
Those days are long gone. Instagram and Pinterest have turned me into a Mommy Monster. I cannot pretend that this is all for my daughter. I mean, it’s a good cover story. I never went this crazy over a party on my own behalf after all. I could pretend that this is just me being a selfless, saintly mom. But that’s not the real story. The ugly truth . . . most of this is for me.
My daughter is turning five. She would be more than happy to spend a few hours at Chuck E Cheese. She just wants to play with some friends and have an excuse to eat sweets. She loves the parties, but she’s a preschooler. She also loves going through automatic car washes and stopping by the pharmacy. When you’re a kid, anything can be an adventure and there’s something beautiful about that.
But enough genuine reflection! There’s no time to appreciate the little things when we’re busy transforming our backyard! We’ve got giant paper mache mushrooms and colorful hanging troll houses to create.
I have an inkling about the origins of my Pinterest party obsession. First, my parents knocked it out of the park when it came to Halloween. We’re talking haunted houses in our basement, ghouls hanging from trees in the yard, that whole “feel into the bowl blindfolded and touch eyeballs (peeled grapes) thing,” and incredibly elaborate costumes. Those Halloween parties are some of my most treasured memories. Despite my parents’ divorce and all the uncertainty that it brought as a child, the over-the-top parties were still a constant.
Some of this obsession also originates from my insecurity. I often feel a little lost when it comes to motherhood. I’m not naturally maternal. I was the first of my peer group to have a child. I feel awkward interacting with other moms at playdates and parks, and my husband is a part-time stay-at-home dad. He is the more assured parent who knows what to do and how to handle most situations. He’s the default parent in an emergency.
I think these parties are my way of contributing and going full-Mom. I’m type-A; I am great at organizing and scheduling. I think I’m just trying to clumsily find my place to shine as a mom. I may accidentally drop the f-bomb in front of my kid, the dishes may sit for a week, and I might lose my patience too easily, but damned if she’s not going to have a perfect party with its own hashtag.
Sometimes, you have to take the win wherever you can. It may be ridiculous or cliche, but if my birthday party Pinterest board gives me joy and confidence as a mom, I’m just going to roll with it. Bring on the Mommy Monster. Speaking of monsters, my Halloween game is just as strong as my dad’s.