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On My Fear of Class Parties (and why it was so selfish)

April 21, 2015

class parties

Confession: I used to be terrified of class parties.

All you parents of elementary-aged kids, you know that of which I speak. Class Parties. The holiday-themed extravaganzas our kids celebrate in school, involving Pinterest-y towers of fruit and pretzels? Homemade, organic carob and agave cupcakes? Carefully crafted goody bags and intricate, hand-made party favors made by stay-at-home moms who look down on us Working Moms as selfish, child-abandoning monsters?

At least that’s what I always thought.

Class parties, to a not-so-crafty mom like me, were a celebration of everything I was not.

I was not gifted with the patience to hand-frost cookies made from scratch.

I was not gifted with the creativity to make darling, cut-paper treat bags.

I was not gifted with the patience to sew fabric birthday banners that matched my child’s handmade birthday attire.

I’ve attempted such things, many times, in the past. It usually resulted in tears and frustration. It’s not my gift.

One thing, I promise you, this blog will never be is one of those “Look What I Can Do!” blogs. Like, look at the incredibly-ornate-and-complicated-mermaid-costume-I-made-for-my-dog, or, look at the hand-painted-and-decoupaged-plant-stand-I-made-out-of-seashells, or look at my homemade-facial-moisturizer-I-made-out-of-cream-I-churned-myself-and-flowers-I-hand-gathered-in-the-foothills-of-The-Alps.

Uh-uh.

I don’t decoupage.

I don’t sew.

I barely cook.

If I am responsible for more than one pan going on the stove at any given time, I start to cry.

On the rare occasion I do post a food photo or a recipe, it’s because it was such an enormous accomplishment for a girl like me I can’t help but want to tell the world.

All that being said, I always felt that class parties were a mirror by which my inadequacy as a mom was reflected. (Realizing the lack of rationale that even if I were a stay-at-home mom, I would be no more patient, crafty or creative. Who said shame was rational?)

It’s really just another manifestation of Working-Mom Guilt, aka, The Inner You Stink.

I’ve suffered from this ailment far too long. I wrote this the summer of 2013 about my son’s birthday celebration at summer camp.

As I dropped my smallest prince off at camp this morning, lugging in three bags of doughnut holes so that he could bask in the glory of HIS day, this last day in our marathon of celebrating, I overheard another child say:

“My birthday is on Friday and my mom is bringing in cake pops for everybody!”

Store-bought, processed, high-fructose corn syrup infused doughnut holes. It was the very best I could do and he was thrilled. I felt good about it until her words slapped across my fragile ego, and the inference dug it’s nails into my arm. As if her mother were standing next to me, with agave nectar on her cheek and whole wheat flour on her apron, waving homemade cake pops in my face and calling me a loser.

I Am (NOT) a Birthday Planning Failure

This year, I can honestly say, has been different. So much is different this year…when you’ve been walking alongside a monster for so long, you grew familiar with its shadow.

Now that it’s gone, the world is so much easier. And brighter.

The first party I attended with my second-grader this year featured tiny vintage glass milk bottles in a vintage wooden crate, filled with fresh milk and paper barber-shop striped straws.

And for once, I could appreciate the effort that went in to that and not see it as a reflection of my inadequacy..

Comparisons, doubt, shame – it’s all so selfish.

I’ve spent so much time feeling bad about myself, I never thought about how those other moms must be feeling.

I’ve grown to appreciate the giftedness of those moms who prepare the hand-frosted cookies.

I can appreciate the creativity of those moms who come up with the crafts and goody bags that my sons have always enjoyed.

I can appreciate the patience of those moms who sew, and create, and craft and do it because they love to, not because they have to.

I don’t, and that’s okay. I do other things, good things, valuable things.

In the combination of our giftedness, we, all of us, create beautiful and worthy events for our children. We each contribute in our own way.

Sometimes our best offering may be the box of frosted sugar cookies from the grocery store, or the hands we bring to wipe the sticky faces and desks, and clean up afterwards.  Sometimes our best offering is to just show up and be there, yoga pants, day-old ponytail and all, letting that frazzle room mom know that she’s not going to be doing this entire party on her own.

It’s all worthy. It’s all worthwhile. We, none of us, are certain we’re doing this right. The best we can do is do this together. 

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Do you Pinterest? Join me over on my new Pinterest Board: Pinterest-y Disasters – a place to collect all the crazy ideas we know will turn out just awful, or to post a really glorious Pinterest Fail!

 

Have you ever been intimidated by a class party or other children’s event?

What is your area of giftedness? Do you craft or bake? Sew? Write?

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