Monday, October 25, 2010

Crustaceans and Freak Outs

If I've learned anything about being a mom, I've learned that there is no shortage of things to freak out about. You have to freak out about your precious little prince's (or princess's, as the case may be) diet.

(Side note, I am regretting ever naming my child a name that ends in an "s" because I've got absolutely no clue how to make it possessive, and it's made me question how to make any word ending in "s" possessive. All my journalism training is right out the window on this one. My adviser would be so disappointed.)

I never dreamed it would be so difficult to feed Junior. I figured, hey basically you feed your kid the fruit of your boob for as long as that holds out, then you possibly move to formula, then voila, they are little people and they eat whatever you eat. Who knew there were all these scary danger red-zone things that babies under one year of age should not eat? Want to make your kiddo a peanut butter and jelly for lunch? Nope, sorry, kiddo could develop a peanut allergy so peanuts must be avoided AT ALL COSTS (but by the time your little precious reaches one year, you will have spent so much time and energy avoiding peanuts that you will be convinced that giving your child peanut butter is like giving them poison and you will watch in fear as they eat their first peanut butter sandwich, expecting them to keel over before your very eyes).

In fact, in writing this post, I decided I would meander on over to my old pal Google and ask him what babies under age 1 should not eat. And you know what? Google is kind-of an a-hole. And judgmental. He came back with all these websites talking about "forbidden foods for baby" and "if you feed your child this, you are abusive and deserve to be stoned to death in a public forum". It's like, Google, how can you tell me not to feed L crustaceans? This could be the only time in his life when he is not particularly attached to crustaceans. Once he sees The Little Mermaid, he's going to be all like, "I don't want to eat Sebastian!" and then it'll be all over. And who the heck are you to ask me how often we really serve crustacean in this house? That is entirely beside the point.

Freaking out about what to feed my kid? Check.

Then there's the whole vaccination shenanigans which I refuse to even go into here because I don't want to start a bloody brawl. And also because I really don't have an opinion on this. Except I do and I'm on the verge of whipping out my soapbox so away from this topic we go.

Anyway, there is plenty to freak out about. Food, shots, babyproofing, blah, blah, blah, GAHHHHHHHH.

And that's just the crap that can primarily be kept between you, your baby and your pediatrician. The stuff that is in the public arena is even more nerve wracking because you have people observing and judging.

Let's take, for instance, the first birthday party. (The fact that I, myself, will be embarking upon the great journey of The First Birthday Party in two weeks is purely coincidental, I assure you.) In my family, birthday parties consist essentially of phone calls all around, telling people to come for ice cream and cake on such a date at such a time. There are no themes, there are no favors, there is generally no alcohol, and people certainly don't come expecting decorations and meals.

But oh, wait a minute. That's an adult birthday "party". Apparently a child's birthday party is an entirely different beast. Apparently, for a child's birthday party, you have to transform into Money Bags McGee and Martha Stewart simultaneously.

I am not kidding. If you dare, return to Google and plug in "first birthday party ideas". Then, if you happen to also be a first-time mom with a first birthday party coming up, grab a paper bag and either throw up into it or practice taking soothing breaths.

It is absolutely insane what some people do for first birthdays. Things that I never would have even considered are at the forefront of these people's minds (and nervous breakdowns). Bouncy houses? Favor bags? Pony rides? An open bar???

To each his own (really, I mean that), but let me tell you a few things about these other people. Well, one thing really. The main and entirely overwhelming factor that makes me different from these people: I am married to D.

When I asked D what our budget would be for L's party, he looked at me like I had just invented the word "budget" and he was like, "Um...$5? Isn't that how much cake mix and frosting costs? Even if you get the really good kind?"

When I asked him if it would be possible to negotiate that budget, he said, "Seriously, what could you possibly need for his birthday?" And then I started to list all the things that Google told me.

"We need snacks, drinks, a professionally done cake and smash cake, invitations, decorations, L's party outfit, thank you cards..."

And he cut me off and said (in his "patient" voice that he uses when he thinks I've gone off the deep end and he's relishing being the sane person in our relationship), "Katie. Listen to me. He. won't. even. remember. it."

And I laughed maniacally and said, "Oh babe, you are so silly. There you go thinking that this party is about him."

But as the party day draws closer, I have to confess that I am much more prone to be taking his point of view on this one.

The other night, I suddenly realized that the party is actually not that far away, and I started to freak out because I had not given it a whole lot of thought. I mean, I had thought about it, but it always seemed super far away so I didn't spend too much energy on actual execution of those thoughts.

Like a madwoman, I got out paper and a pen and tried desperately to brainstorm cute and unique decorations that all my...I mean L's...guests would adore and compliment. I gathered some thoughts and ideas, then went to talk them over with my mom to see if she could offer further inspiration.

As I was talking a blue streak, an amused look crossed over her face. I stopped in mid-sentence and said, "This won't even matter in the end, will it?"

The amused look changed to one of "Ah, she's got it!" and my mom said, "No, it really won't." It was an epiphany, if you will.

So here's what's going to happen. There will be no professional cakes. I am making some killer cupcakes and using my fun Pampered Chef decorating gun that I haven't gotten to try yet. L will have a small smash cake that is also homemade. I am going to decorate a little here and there, and L has a onesie from Kohl's that says, "My First Birthday". That's it.

No ponies, no favors, no 4-course meals, no Martha Stewart-worthy table displays. It's just too much for me. We don't have the money, and as D said, L won't even remember it.

Instead, I've decided to savor these years where we'll be able to get away from a birthday party relatively unscathed financially. (This also includes Christmas presents.) Soon enough, L will be wanting to invite 15 of his closest friends to a Mom and Dad sponsored hullaballoo at Chuck E. Cheese, and then the real trouble will start. (And he'll still be too young to understand the reasoning that we could get way better pizza for way cheaper somewhere else and just go play in the McDonald's play place instead.)

I'm going to live it up now while the living is good, and simply take strategic pictures so I can look back with L years from now and be like, "Wow, wasn't that 1st birthday party great? You had so much fun. Oh, you don't remember? Believe me. It was awesome." And he'll believe me because he'll have no other option.

So strike "1st Birthday Party" off the list of things to freak out about. I refuse to give in to the urge to go psycho about this. Why waste the energy, when other things like eagerly awaiting the day when I can give L his first crustacean clearly need more of my mental time?


Nicole Everitt said...

Dollar store... We hung up some balloons (which Grace did enjoy), a few streamers (which I enjoyed), bought a cake from Costco (so that I didn't have to figure out how to make a big enough cake), and I baked her a little smashing cake. My advice for that? Ramekins. They're the perfect size for a baby cake.

Dale - 1st brithday party entertainer said...

Sometimes you just have to take a step back and enjoy the party too. Don't forget to let someone else take pictures. 1st B-days go by really fast.