Keeping Up With the (Party) Joneses

October 28, 2015

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Just over a month ago, my second Little Man celebrated his eighth birthday. Of my three bambinos, his is the only birthday during the summer. That being the case, I am able to exude a great deal more energy and time into the planning of his party than I do with the others. Sadly, this extra time often leads me to excessive planning, spreadsheet coordination, and stress beyond all comprehension.

You see, I am NOT a party-planning-professional, and when you combine my hyperactive mind, extended prep time, anal retentivity, and…um…obsession with the 21st century’s thematic birthday craze, you have a recipe for disaster in my world. I remember the days when birthday parties were cake and ice cream, Red Rover, a few dislocated shoulders, and balloons. We always had a blast at those parties! I guess we didn’t realize that we were missing out on…well, everything Pinterest.

But now, I’m afraid I’d put my kids in the shame corner with a dunce cap on should I resort to the days of yore. I don’t want to embarrass them with a less-than-exorbitant party.

Or maybe I don’t want to embarrass myself.

So, up until now, Little Man has had an Olympic-themed party, a superhero-themed party (Called out the shots on this one: a 3-D cake of Batman, neighbor-made capes, mom-made masks, and even a phone booth made from a refrigerator box. Oh yes, I did!), a dance-themed party, and a spy-themed party (complete with fake cake, leading a secret hunt to the real cake, via a chase-down with the robber).

Whew! I’m pooped just recounting it all!

Well, come last winter, I felt the drive beginning to ooze out of me. Keeping up with the party Joneses was taking a toll.

Every year since my youngest was born, we have celebrated her birthday and my first boy’s birthday on the same day. The two anniversaries are a mere five calendar days apart, so I try to knock out both parties in one fell swoop. Last year, the angels of mercy swept through Big Boy’s mouth and he asked, “Mom, can I just have three guys come watch a movie?”

“Why, yes. Yes, you can!”


Which made Angel Baby’s party the only one I had to figure out. But another angel of mercy showed up a few months earlier when my dear neighbor celebrated her daughter’s birthday by putting a cake on a table on the front lawn and inviting the neighborhood to come share a slice.

That’s it. That’s all. Which was glorious.

It was then I realized that the days of yore COULD be resurrected. So, I decided to try them out with Angel Baby. I invited her whole class, told them to pack their own lunches (no kidding…I really did!), and I would feed them. They played musical chairs, the freeze game, and pretty much just ran amuck. At one point (true story), they decided to take turns RAKING MY BACK YARD!

Oh my, I do believe that THAT party will not be forgotten. But for good or for bad? “Mom, remember the time we RAKED THE YARD for my birthday?! What were you thinking?!”

Angel Baby’s party marked the beginning of my decline. Which led me to where I am now; faithfully seated in the Land of I Don’t Care!

Which is why, a month ago, when Little Man started dreaming of his own birthday bash, I directed the conversation.

“Hey Buddy, who would you like to have at your party this year?”

“OH! I want Billy, Lucas, John. . . .” (not their real names)

“STOP! Ok, if you want those three, no problem. BUT, you may have ONLY those three, and I’m taking you somewhere bouncy. I’ll serve you cake in the car after. That’s it.”

“Seriously, Mom?”


“Ok!” And off he bounced, preparing for the “bouncy place” I would take him to celebrate the end of his seventh year.

And that’s exactly what we did.  Four kids, tons of trampolines, and cupcakes afterwards.

I would love to say they were as happy as they would have been with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, house-transformed saga drenched in combat, costumes, and maybe a live turtle with a bandana, but alas. They literally said, “That’s it?!”

Yup, kids. That’s it.

I’m worn out from the thinking, the trying, the striving, the stress, the effort, and the money it takes to put on something extraordinary when we’ve lost sight of the beauty of “ordinary.” It is far too easy for me to get caught up with all there is to do in the world. All the ways to STRIVE to be better; not just a better ME, but better THAN. The Bible tells us that whatever we do, we should do it with all our heart, as serving the Lord, NOT MEN.

But men (and women) are visible. And sometimes the visible becomes stronger than the invisible and I lose sight of the importance of working for the Invisible.

No wonder I’m worn out! I’m working for something that will perish, that will fade, that will wither. When I focus on the things that will last, that will not die, then I can live.

When will I learn?