I remember feeling so sorry for my mother-in-law back in 1989 when her oldest child turned 30. It wasn’t my husband. He was still in his 20s. It was his older brother. I remember thinking, ‘Mimi must feel so wretched and ancient to have a child turning 30!’
And now that same wretched thing is happening to me. Now I have a kid turning 30.
So I’m employing our go-to coping mechanism. I’m throwing a party.
As with all things Emilie-related, there’s a modicum of pressure for this to be a lavish break-the-bank affair that aptly showcases my considerable talents as a mother and a hostess, all-the-while emphasizing the endless and vast amount of love and irrational exuberance we feel for any occasion involving our eldest.
I thought of a darling theme: A Roaring 20s Party!
As in, “Emilie bids farewell to her roaring 20s and hello to her 30s”
And then I immediately became concerned that she might interpret that to mean her 30s are going to resemble a great depressive era. I know – I’m overthinking this.
But, that’s what mothers do. We overthink and over-do everything – especially when it comes to our first born.
Starting with Baby’s first milestone, we tend to over-celebrate them. From Birthdays to Bar Mitzvahs, Graduations to Quincenearas, you can bet if it’s your firstborn’s event, it’ll be a ticker tape affair. Which is all fine and good until you run out of steam and realize you can’t possibly sustain that pace for all of your subsequent offspring.
Pinterest had nothing on me in the late 80s and early 90s. I went overboard selecting Emilie’s party themes months in advance. I handcrafted invitations. Characters were hired. Tablescapes were designed. Petting Zoos were installed. Jumpy Castles were inflated. Grandparents were flown in. Party favors were handmade.
That’s simply the way it was for Numero Uno. I managed to keep pace for #2 and #3 for a bit, before I finally threw in the towel.
I recall a party where everyone including me and Grandma dressed up as Mermaids. (yes, it was hard to walk.) There was a Pocohontas party with a life-sized teepee and a real bonfire for S’mores. One Birthday Party Eve found me in the garage at 3 am furiously hack-sawing Barbie’s body in 1/2 so I could jam her inside the pink Ball Gown I baked that failed to rise sufficiently.
As I sawed through that plastic waistline (it’s thicker than you think), I remember wondering exactly what kind of Slacker-Parents actually threw their kids’ parties at Chuck E. Cheese and McDonalds? I found out a few burnt-out years later when we hosted
Of my boys’ birthday parties at those incredible venues. (See what I did there? They’re “Venues” now.)
-My boys’ birthday party themes were “Happy Birthday!” (They were Happy)
-I texted invites the day before the party. (Everyone came)
-The grandparents sent a card and a check. (They love their grandparents AND their checks)
-And, if you happen to run into my 4th child and oldest son, please don’t mention this well-guarded family secret: there were a couple of years, from the time James was about 3 until he was 5 or so, that I got his birthday confused with Veteran’s Day. When I finally found a few minutes to dig out his birth certificate, I woefully discovered that we’d celebrated his birthday one day off for several years in a row. And while James has never been in the military, I still feel it was an honest mistake anyone could make.* Nonetheless, he turned a year older in spite of my error and his lack of military service.
When our older kids complain that the younger kids are spoiled, all I can do is agree wholeheartedly. And then I remind them that, while the younger kids have possibly had more material possessions, the older ones had the BEST OF OUR LOVE when it came to sheer interest, energy and enthusiasm for all of their accomplishments and milestones.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and wager that in November 2027, when James turns 30, I won’t be throwing a huge bash over here at my house to honor him, but we might meet you at McDonalds for a cheeseburger on the 10th.
Or the 11th.
*In my own defense, I only slept a total of 47 hours from 2000-2003.