So maybe next year I won’t freak out quite so much. Maybe.

So my little monster turned 4 this weekend.

Background: When planning his 1st, 2nd & 3rd birthdays, I always had grand plans. I never followed through. Not once. Each time we ended up with just a few (like, 5 at the most) people over at our place for some cake and presents. Easiest birthdays ever.

But that was before he had kid friends. Now, he goes to day care and has friends who are his age who he wants to invite to his birthday party. And I was all for it. For the past month I’ve been going crazy about it. I got the invitations out, we planned for a superhero theme (obviously), and my dad even donated some cash to the cause. Sweet deal.

As the day came closer, I started getting more and more people saying they would (or might be) there. The only “no’s” I seemed to be getting was from people out of state – who I kind of figured wouldn’t be able to make it but invited anyway because I love them and want them to feel included.

About 2 days before the birthday is when I started to panic. I had nothing planned. I had upwards of 25 people (kids & adults) “possibly” coming to this party, and I had nothing for them. I knew I was going to buy some food to feed them, a cake to sugar-fie the kids, and it’s at a park so the kids can just run wild. Seemed easy enough. Oh, and then I thought maybe a pinata because beating things with sticks and getting candy is fun for everyone.

What in the world was I going to do? I had never planned a party in my ENTIRE LIFE. Like, ever. I had been to lots of parties, a few of them had actually been kid’s birthday parties. But this was terrifying. It was going to be in a public park, so we couldn’t even provide alcohol (because I’m a sucker for rules). I rummaged through the internets trying to find ideas on what I could do to entertain all these people – and for cheap. But I really didn’t think these people, ranging in ages from 1 week to 60ish, would enjoy pin-the-tail-on-the-anything.

I was deep in panic mode.

And why wasn’t the ex-husband panicking? Because he doesn’t care. That’s why.

(or it might be because I go into full-throttle-panic-mode at anything that requires me to talk to more than 1 person in a day and he thinks I’m utterly ridiculous because why in the world is the kiddo going to care if there’s stuff to do – he practically has ADD and will be just happy enough to run around the park like a crazy person pretending to be SuperBatSpiderNinjaTurtleIronTransformerMan and really I don’t need to be worried about anybody else but him because screw everyone else at least they’re getting free food and cake.)

Finally, it was Birthday Day (is that redundant?). I was awoken by the kiddo staring into my face. “Mama, it’s my birthday. I’m four.”

Yes, I know. Now go back to sleep because Mama doesn’t want to wake up at 7 in the freakin’ morning on a weekend.

No such luck, so we got up and got going with the day. Fast forward a few hours, and I made the ex-husband, my mom, and the kiddo load up in the car so we could be to the park an hour and a half early. I wanted to be sure we got the spot since it’s a “first come, first served” deal. And I had been having mini panic attacks all week, worried that we wouldn’t get the pavilion. We got there, and there were people sitting at the tables under the pavilion. I had a mild panic attack, until the ex-husband went over and confirmed that those people had been with a birthday party that had just ended. The pavilion was ours!

Mom took the kiddo to the playground to swing for a while. It was nice that they got some one-on-one time, since she’d only been able to drive up from the Bay Area for the one day and would head home in a few short hours. I began set up.

And then I was done. I didn’t have many decorations, and snack-y foods are easy set up. Chips tossed in a bowl with some dip near by, sodas next to the ice and cups, veggie tray, cookies (that I had stayed up until almost midnight baking even though I hate baking and cooking and anything to do with prepping food. I’m an food eater, not a food maker). We noticed that the weather was really nice so the ex-husband ran to the store for waters and a deli tray (because I didn’t feel we had enough stuff for the people to munch on).

Then the guests began to arrive. And the party flew by in a flash. There were kids running around everywhere. I tried to have some face time with all of the grown-ups, but I’m really not sure I got to chat with everyone. Or maybe I did. I’m really not sure at this point. All I know, is I somehow was able to keep up conversations with people – even the parents of day care kids that I didn’t even know. I was totally social.

Pretty soon it was time for cake and singing and then ohmygodmamaIwanttoopenmypresents!

I think I did alright. He opened everyone’s presents before their parents said they had to leave, and we properly thanked each person for coming by and playing. There were smiles on everyone’s faces (except the kids when they realized they had to leave, but that’ s okay. It means they had fun). The only thing that kind of went awry is the presents. I made myself clear that I wanted all presents back in their original bags with cards, because he was opening them too fast for me to write down who gave what. By the time we got home, someone had stuffed all the clothes into one bag – and I know for a fact they did not all come from one person. I want to do the “proper mom” thing and write detailed thank you notes, but I’m afraid a few of those notes aren’t going to be as specific as the others. Oh well. No big deal, right?

Clean up was relatively easy for me, since the ex-husband pretty much did everything while I was chatting with the last of the guests. He seemed a little grumpy about something, but I haven’t the slightest idea what it could be. I barely saw him during the whole party. And, like a grump, he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong.

But it didn’t dampen my mood. I think the day went off pretty well. The kiddo didn’t get a nap, and since he woke up before the sun he crashed pretty easily. So did I.

I suppose, in retrospect, the whole day went really well. I didn’t have a pinata or games or anything planned, but having a birthday in a park really takes care of any chance of boredom from the kids. And the grown-ups didn’t need my help. In fact, I totally forgot to introduce anyone to anyone else, so maybe they took care of that themselves. My grown-up friends are a lot less socially retarded than me.

The one disappointment I have? I forgot my camera. I have no pictures from the whole day (except the one below, but that was taken at 7 in the morning). I saw people with cameras, so I posted a desperate plea on Facebook for people to send me copies. Otherwise, the kiddo will never remember the super-totally-awesome superhero party where he & his friend were dressed as Iron Man and another girl was dressed as Bat Girl and another girl was dressed as a princess because she didn’t like superheros but she does like princesses and there were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on his cake and most of the presents were in gift bags with superheros on them because everyone knows how much you love superheros and it was really an awesome day that even though he might not remember it, it would be nice to have some pictures to go back and look at and remember not the panic attacks I had for 2 weeks prior but to remember that it was actually kind of fun.

I’m just glad the kiddo had a good time. And I know he did. Because he told me.

Happy birthday little monster. You’re my favorite.
(Just don’t tell your brothers and sisters.)
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