Always Real, Parenting Gone Awry

Do These Boots Make Me Look Like A Bad Mom?

You know, you might think that as older parents of an only child, that we would go all out and give Sean one of those over the top birthday parties.  If you think that, you would be wrong.  So very wrong.  And not for the reasons you might think. It’s not because we are taking a stand on rampant materialism and the message it sends or because our ideals are so high.  It’s because our energy level is so low.

It takes energy to put on a shindig, energy that could be better spent trying to remember where we put the remote control.

Therefore, Sean got a generic birthday cake upon which I smooshed a small Lightning McQueen car and the “4” candle that was left over from my birthday cake last year. And he was thrilled. And then the next week, when we had to do the cake thing again – I used the same car and the same candle. And he was thrilled again.

That there folks, is the beauty of being four.

Last year, Gigi bought Sean a pair of cowboy boots for his birthday and he was thrilled with them.  They just fit. But they wouldn’t for long. So the next week I took them back and exchanged them for the next size. By then he had forgotten about them, so I wrapped them up for Christmas. And guess what?  On Christmas morning, he was thrilled with his new boots.  Short term memory is cute when you are four. When you are in your forties? Not so cute.

Photo Temporarily Unavailable

If I can get the icing off the wheels, I think the Lightning McQueen car will make a nice stocking stuffer. 

43 thoughts on “Do These Boots Make Me Look Like A Bad Mom?

  1. As simply as possible, but with the children’s wishes in mind.

    For our third child’s sixth birthday, he wanted to go to Buffalo Bill’s grave. So we did, after lunching at Red Robin (per his request). Then we went home and ate cake and ice cream.

    Luckily, my children’s wishes are modest and do-able.

    I will never, ever host a birthday at Chuck E. Cheese.

  2. I can’t remember when I laughed so hard. This is the biggest secret that mothers of tots have in their arsenal. Every day is a new day…every event is a new one.

  3. As simply as possible, with minimum chaos! No restaurant parties, no rented gizmos or hired clowns. Cake (sometimes bought) ice cream, and children I like invited. Birthday child gets to pick meals for that day, and gets away with a bit more for that day because he is the ‘birthday brat.’ 🙂 Oh, and we often did a piñata. That was pretty easy and took up about 45 minutes. A couple times we asked kids to come in fun costumes, since kids love to dress up and usually only get one chance a year to do so. We also did some fun, around the house treasure hunts and simple fishing games.

  4. Funny you should ask this weekend… Saturday we celebrated Punkin’s 10th birthday. We invited family members and a few of our close friends over and had food and treats and cake and ice cream. (and today, I did as little as possible.)

    Wednesday is her actual birthday, and Hubs and I will take the kids out to the restaurant of Punkin’s choice.

    Friday, we’ll have three of Punkin’s friends here for a small party and a sleepover.

    The other two little clowns are not old enough for sleepovers yet, and we usually just host their “family party”, then take them to the restaurant they chose for dinner.

    Next year, we’ll probably start the “friends party” deal for Sweet Pea… we’ve had these at bowling alleys, Dino-Rex, and a “tea party/dress up” place in the past.

  5. Broccoli soup, grandparents, green icing and sprinkles. That’s what he wanted for Evan’s 4th birthday, I was more than happy to oblige. What a great time we had!

    Unfortunately, it’s not all easy. I forgot about chaos, and invited 4 kids & their sibs to Kyle’s 3rd birthday party. TOO many boys. But it was simple fun too. We made dinosaur hats (just stiff paper, pens & staplers) and had hot dogs, veggies & cake. A plain 9×13 with a T-Rex made of icing rosettes. Pretty simple, pretty terrific (though the roaring got too loud.) Next year I will set a low guest limit. Like one friend maybe. Live and learn, hey?

    Love your “forgetful” child. Blessings on your family!

  6. I have 5 kids aged 10-17 so I’ve had lots of birthday celebrations! In fact, today my daughter turned 11.

    We have a birthday party with kids every other year. This is the year of no parties. On the off-year, they get invite one kid to do something special with them. Eleven-year old daughter wants to go play laser tag. It’s often hard to narrow it down to one kid and one special event.

    Last month my daughter who turned 10 chose to go to rock’n’bowl and have an ice cream cone afterwards with her special friend.

    We always have a family party. Our family that’s local consists of us and grandpa. So we have a dinner of their choice and gifts.

    The cowboy boot story reminds of when my boys were little. They dressed up like cowboys for Halloween. I bought them cowboy boots, but told them that we’d borrowed them and had to give them back. So they gave them back to me and I wrapped them up for Christmas. (So, in essence, they borrowed them from themselves…….)

  7. This year, when my children turned 6, we had our first-ever theme birthday party. It was Princesses at a Beach Luau with Thomas the Tank Engine. Yes, they chose the theme(s) themselves. It consisted of making bead bracelets, playing traditional party games (e.g., freeze dance, pin-the-tail, pinata, etc.) We did have the guy from their art & music class come and sing/tell stories which kept them more or less occupied for about 1 hour. Then, our first-ever store-bought cakes. I decided at 6 they could each have their own cake since they share virtually everything else.

    We used to do the family celebration on the same day (or weekend) but found we were too darn tired. Now, we do it on another weekend, though there’s no cake involved. Just a family dinner with presents.

  8. i have used the same generic dollar store farm animals on at least 3 cakes for T. The child can go thru some cake too let me tell ya. Poor kid on his 2 b day we all had flu and i had hormones…he pulled his cake off the bar in the 33 seconds it took me to open the paper plates and i was the one who sat in the floor and bawled about what awful parents we were that not only did we not throw him a party but we couldnt even manage to give him his cake….

  9. We pay someone else to put together the shindig.

    Our local Rec center has a party planner, and just today, our son and his buddies dressed in space suits, painted rocket ships, hunted moon rocks, and wreaked havoc while I took pictures and ate cake.

    Someone besides me wrangled the hoarde of seven-year-olds, dodged projectiles, and cleaned up, and in my opinion, that’s $85 well spent.

  10. We just had our daughter’s 3rd B’day party: she got to dress up all girly in a fancy dress she’d been begging to wear for awhile, she got the kind of cake she wanted, she got the grandparents, and (non-helium) balloons. She was thrilled.

    And thank goodness we’re not the only people to recycle gifts! A friend gave us her daughter’s old dress-up clothes, so I packed those in a bin with some dress-up stuff my daughter already had, and wrapped it up. She was so excited to get it! And I was excited for my wallet. 🙂

  11. We opted out of the elaborate kid party and decided to do a big family party instead. We have all the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents over. I want the kids to focus on their family and fully appreciate how big their emotional support system is. I want them to feel how loved they truly are.

  12. At Christmas I left out a few select toys my girls had received, and I put the rest in a closet. We’ve been taking them out, one at a time, all year. There are still things in there I could wrap up for this Christmas. This year we’re talking about exchanging some toys with the cousins instead of everyone buying new ones.

  13. Unfortunately, I go all out. Not because I’m trying to impress anyone, but that’s why I had children… I LOVE BIRTHDAY PARTIES! Although, I have moved them out of the house since my son’s fifth where a wrestling match almost ended in a crashed glass table. But I will never do Chuck E. Cheese’s. Unless I’m allowed to take a handful of Valium beforehand. Nah, not even then!

  14. We don’t have any extended family to have multiple parties or multiple gifts. I have never been overly fond of birthday parties so our birthdays are very low key. First I have told them that when baby Jesus was born he received three gifts – so then they are not disappointed at receiving only three gifts. We do have cake of their choice and ice cream and then a play date somewhere fun where two of their friends can join them (my 5 and 7 year olds respectively).
    When they were in pre-school, on their birthday we had cupcakes at school and we had made a treat bag for each child in their class as a celebration of their birth – we did this at soccer games also when their birthday fell on a weekend – but have never had a birthday party (and we are not going to !)
    I do let them attend birthday parties when they are invited and they have a good time. When they ask about a party of their own , I just remind them that we don’t do that in our family.

  15. Happy Birthday Sean!!!

    This year in Sep, I was on a Disney Cruise on my birthday (went to Key West, Cayman Island, Mexico, and the Bahama’s). That was the best birthday ever!

  16. Ooh, Linda — we are doing a 7-day Disney Cruise next August for our 10th anniversary. (Yes, a family-centered cruise — how romantic! LOL)

    We have taken a lot of trips for birthdays, instead of throwing parties. Kind of like killing two birds with one stone, in a way. We have done some 3-day weekends that include Sea World & Legoland or Disneyland & Disney’s CA Adventure. They’re expensive but they’re easier than planning out a huge party. (Did that the first 6 or 7 years and decided I’d had enough.)

    We did let my 12-yo son have a sleepover last month for his bday, with 4 of his friends. They ate pizza and played a lot of Halo 3. Pretty easy on my part, except for the NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE! If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s the NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE!

    The Grinch

  17. Do you mean for the kids or for me?

    For the kids, we have multiple parties too. Grandparents, adult friends who want to celebrate too and finally ours, if I remember to do it that is. Ours is always one at home, sometimes with friends – sometimes out. When we have one where the child can invite friends, we just do cake and ice cream and I never hand out prizes to the other kids as a reward for coming. It takes away from the joy of celebrating the birthday child.

    Me? I extend it as long as possible because I think that the world should revolve around me. I guess my kids come by it honestly…

  18. Both my kids have birthdays at inconvenient birthday-party times…my daughter’s is during summer vacation, and my son’s is on New Year’s Eve. The few times I did try to have a “real” party, no one, and I mean NO ONE, showed up! So we have evolved the tradition of going out as a family to the restaurant of the birthday-child’s choice. Sometimes my daughter has a sleepover with friends, but not with presents, just the sleepover. My son will be 16 this birthday, so we’ll be taking him and his girlfriend out somewhere nice.

  19. Sean was due on Christmas day, but because I was low on amnio we had to deliver him six weeks early, and really, I was kind of glad that he wouldn’t have to share his birthday with a holiday. His grandmother’s birtday is 12/24, so with two birthdays and Christmas, that would have been too much!

  20. Birthdays – ugh! I LOVE birthdays – yours, mine, everybody’s! At our house, you are King/Queen for the day. The kids also have a party with their friends – either at our house running in the backyard (army party for the boy last summer, with medic game and rescue mission to find the cake) or at the local gymnastics place (winter b-day in the snow belt can’t really plan on outside). This year, however, each kid is getting 3 parties – yup, 3. My son had his b-day party, then we left to go on vacation to MN and were there on his actual birthday – had a party at my inlaws house, then at my parents’ house on his actual birthday. My daughter – same thing. We happen to be going to MN for Christmas this year. So we’ll have a party with her friends before we leave, then have one at the inlaws a few days before her birthday, then on her birthday at my parents’ house (poor thing was born on 12/22). The grandparents just don’t understand that they don’t need 3 parties – but they always insist on having one for them. They don’t see the kids often, so I don’t complain about it. I always make the cake – I try to be creative, and even though I’m not, the kids always enjoy it 🙂

  21. Well — last year we did the birthday bash shebang! I’ve got 5 kiddos, so we had one big FRIENDS birthday party — each got to invite a friend, and their family. This year we are going to celebrate all their birthdays on the same day — only no limit on who they get to invite. Come one Come all! The more the merrier!! Get all that stress out of the way on one day!! yippee… I can’t wait!!

    It’s almost like Christmas that way — then on the actual birthday — just us family, and a cake… home made cards. Lots of love to go around. No stress. Ü

    Of course I got this idea from the Jeub Family. (She just had #14 Wednesday, they need to consolidate)

  22. It *is* totally exhausting. Each of my kids has had one big blow-out birthday. The rest have been pretty low-key. First, we can’t afford a big shindig like that every year, and second, I just don’t think it’s necessary. It leads to entitlement, which leads to a pain in my bank account.

  23. We have pretty big get togethers and we try to spend the same amount on each girls party. Now that we are adding to the fold, we will have parties in March, April and May…..oy, we have really set ourselves up for some busy times!

  24. Yeah. Good question. My son’s 5th birthday is fast approaching and I don’t know what we will do. Probably just a cake at home with mommy & daddy. We haven’t been here for too long, have no relatives/friends yet so that seems easiest anyway. Maybe next year he can have a birthday party.

    Plus you are right about saving up your energy for things like looking for my wallet and/or keys.

  25. We started a tradition when our oldest turned 4. It’s a birthday breakfast alone with Mom and Dad. We have four kiddos so the alone time with Mom and Dad is very special for them and for us.
    Other traditions include: decorating with birthday banners the night before so the house is festive when the kids wake up, a party with a lunch of their choice, presents, cake, games or a movie.

  26. This year for my birthday my husband to me to dinner at my favorite restaurant and then to a minor league baseball team (our local team) (at my request). My sweet hubby also sent me to the spa for a facial that afternoon before we went on our date! Although my birthday is in the summer, we were experiencing unusually cool weather (75), so it was a perfect night! For his birthday, we went to dinner at his favorite restaurant and then went to “Movies in the Park” in our city. I can’t remember the movie we watched now!

  27. Oh, I just blogged about this! I have grown sooo tired of big parties. We did a smaller party this year for my daughter and it was so nice.

  28. We used to do all out extravaganzas, but have scaled back lately – to more homespun, simple parties. I blogged about my son’s last minute, ghetto pinata birthday party, but I think it might be bad form to post a link, so I will resist. But I completely agree with both the sentiment and your practicality.

  29. This is a great topic! Yes, short term memory in children is awesome. On us, it just feels old. But, then they keep us young, right? Or maybe not…

    We have a small Thomas the Tank Engine that topped my BOY’s cake for his 2nd birthday. He still loves Thomas and that particular Thomas is now a bath tub Thomas. My BOY is 4 on Friday. I can’t believe it.

    There’s a wonderful train museum in California, where we live. Admission is free and the kids can run all over, climb up and in old steam engines and watch excited old guys, who also love trains, behind a glass panel as they work all the electric trains. It is heaven for a 4 year old boy who loves trains. We’ll have a couple of his close friends come with their parents, all ride a train together and just let the kids run. Then we’ll eat cake.

  30. We do birthdays as simply as possible, preferrably no party at all, but especially not a big one. Big parties stress me out too much.
    Sean’s birthday must be around the same time as my youngest daughter’s-she was born about 6 weeks before Christmas, too. She turned 13 this year, and I let her have a small party with some of her friends. She had been wanting to have a party for the last few years and I finally decided this was not really about me and my party hang-ups, and I knew how much it would mean to her to do this.

  31. Great post ….It’s harder as they get older.

    Last year I found that after I had returned duplicates of the one birthday present that was good and the other birthday presents that were junky I could buy several new presents. One he received…the others I saved for Christmas.

    That probably won’t work this year…he can count much better 🙂

  32. Miller is going to have a Mickey Mouse party next week. He loves Mickey Mouse right now. We are taking him to Disney next June…I cannot wait.
    With Madison we didn’t do parties until she hit 4… at 10 we don’t do them anymore….just sleep overs. Miller is having family only…we don’t want to overwhelm him. Happy Thanksgiving!

  33. Big. probably too big.
    As soon as my first was born this lifelong frustrated party planner extodinaire in me came to life. My first child’s first four birthday parties were a bit over the top in some respects.. And then you have to do the same for the next child, and the next and there is this expectation because you always do big parties… But really I did what I did because I had so much stinking fun doing it. I have toned down a lot. But birthdays are still a big deal around here.

  34. How do I celebrate what? Hmmmm… now what was I going to say…. let’s see…

    Not so cute when you’re in your 40’s? Heh, heh… just wait till your short term memory goes from:

    1. going to the kitchen to do something and forgetting what it was you were going to do when you get to the kitchen


    2. going to the kitchen and forgetting you were going to the kitchen, or that there was ever anything you were going to do, but still having an uneasy feeling that you are forgetting something.

    And that, my friend, is when you really do seriously burn the toast. 🙂

  35. My boys were born two years plus 3 days apart, so we celebrate them both together. We usually invite our favorite families over for soup and cake. The children play and the parents chat and everyone has a good time. The last two years we gave the boys two options: have a party or bring one family with us to our time share for a weekend. Both years they chose the weekend away. The other family meets us there and after dinner on Saturday night we have a cake I made from a box and open presents (each boy gets two or three presents total). Easy and fantastic!

    And here is another tip I picked up: instruct your child to unwrap the gift and admire it and say thank you, but DO NOT OPEN THE PACKAGING! That way you can exchange duplicates and other, ahem, unsuitable gifts.

  36. Love the humor!! I had my kids when I was young (and dumb)and pennyless. (A lot can be said for age and wisdom!) Birthday parties were 4 kids, a cake and a present or two. (recycled candles and cake toppers were a necessity!) My daughter-in-law learned from her nightmare sleepover with twelve (yes!12–all night!) 7 year olds. So now they go to a professional place — Pump It Up, Gymboree, The cheese pizza place with the giant mouse (memory fails me) so the moms can sip coffee and the employees supervise the games!!! Oh, but there’s the family party (our side), the family party (her side), the kid party. It think there’s cupcakes or something at school on the actual birth day. Gasp. The 5 year old magnimously told her mother that she was going to be getting so many presents at her party that it would be better if Mom just bought her clothes!!!

  37. Oh, we try to keep it simple, but when they come in a set of three, it’s not so simple. Three of everything they get, two of everything I don’t open, one of something gets put away forever (due to short memory loss from being an antique mommy too), and the other gets opened when we’re in the need for a new diversion months down the road, if mommy can find it.

    Seriously, we try to keep it low key and simple. I don’t have the energy and there is more of them than me!


  38. You are an absolute HOOT! Yes, as an older mommy with an older husband having an only child, I understand. That’s when I source out to Rent-a-Party-Princess for my daughter! I didn’t even come up with a Plan B if the nice young lady didn’t show up. That’s living!

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