By Kristen Terrette
Give me a nod if you fall into the party trap. You know, are you one of those women who prides themselves in throwing a gorgeously decorated, perfectly put-together party courtesy of (my favorite form of social media) Pinterest. I fall into the party trap every time. No matter the occasion, I will do my best to color-coordinate every single item even remotely dealing with the party, label all food items with catchy phrases, and clean the party location with a fine-tooth comb. All of this will be done on a mini-budget of course.
This personality trait of mine- pretending to be a professional party planner- usually means I will end up yelling at my family before the party begins, demanding their help, and being baffled they do not feel the same conviction, as I do, about pulling off a stellar party.
So, this year, when my son said he wanted a low-key party, I was initially excited. This was my chance to NOT put unwarranted stress on myself about the birthday party of an eight-year-old! He wanted to invite friends to our cul-de-sac for pizza and cake, then play manhunt (the kids’ version of hide-n-seek and tag put together). Simple. Cheap. Easy. Right?
It should have been.
But even still, I started making it more than just a simple, cheap, and easy party in my head… until the worst thing imaginable happened for this party-planner-pretender.
The week leading up to the party, I caught a cold which knocked me out of commission for days. The house was a wreck. No party supplies had been purchased. No fancy color-coordinating labels were printed. And no balloons were ordered. I was barely able to keep the laundry going and groceries in the house. So, when the day of the party arrived, even though I still couldn’t breathe properly through my nose, I went into a panic cleaning the house and getting ready for the slew of eight-year-olds who would hit my cul-de-sac.
And guess what? Not ONE mom came inside that clean house of mine, choosing instead to sit in the driveway and chat with one another. Not ONE kid or parent commented about the pizza being dispersed out of their cardboard boxes on a table with a plastic tablecloth. Not ONE person said that because of the “unstructured” play of manhunt, their child didn’t have fun.
In fact, it was quite the opposite. Even in the midst of the chaos, the kids had a great time. They were fed junk food and okayed to run freely outside in our awesome early Fall weather. Every bit of the anxiety, worry, and lofty expectations I’d placed on myself was undeserved.
Why, as women, do we do this? Why are we so set on painting a certain picture to others, even if it’s a façade?
In truth, I believe my favorite form of social media is partly to blame. It, along with our growing desire to show off everything about our lives to everyone, has become the standard in which we decide if we are a good mom, a good woman, or a good friend. We know that others will be watching and categorizing our efforts, so they better live up to Instagram’s and Facebook’s standards.
The funny thing is, what I thought was a failure, my son thought was a victory. Even though I hadn’t prepared for a stellar party, even though I’d been sick all week, my son thanked me afterwards for it “being one his most favorite nights ever”. His happiness is the standard I should have wanted to live by all along.
I will try to resist the party trap from now on and change the standards I want to live by. It won’t be easy…I’ll be a work in progress. Do you need to do this too? Women, let’s work on this together.
Kristen Terrette has a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and was on staff as a Children’s Ministry Director for over five years. She cherishes her Southern roots and currently lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. With the support of her husband and two children, she stays at home writing Christian fiction, making up fantasy places and characters, allowing God to take the story where He needs it to go. She is also involved in the women’s leadership team at her church, and writes for Wholly Loved ministry. To see her blog and current novels, check out her website.
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