Toddler birthday party blues

Toddler birthday
Note: This is a stock image, not Sam. Sam is MUCH cuter. Credit: ThinkStock

We’re having a birthday party in Prospect Park this weekend for my son Sam, who is turning two. I’m making strawberry cupcakes, my husband Nat is making chicken salad, there will be a cooler of beer and other assorted beverages. We’ve planned a little Easter egg hunt for the kids (the eggs will have little cars and bracelets inside of them in lieu of a gift bag). It will be three hours long.

I’m freaking out.

Look, here’s the deal: There is no “easy” birthday party for a kid even if all you want to do is have an easy birthday party for a kid. I should have stuck to my guns and done the birthday party I wanted to do, which is just have the three of us go out for pizza, get the waitress to light a candle on a piece of cake, give him his presents, clap, smother him in kisses and call it a day. He is turning two. He doesn’t need more than that. Because, and here is the most important part to remember as you are reading this essay: He won’t remember anything about it.

But I am nothing if not gullible. I felt like since this was Sam’s last birthday in Brooklyn (we’re moving to the ‘burbs the end of the month), I should mark the occasion somehow. So we figured we’d do something “easy” and have our friends come out for a little park hang. But modern day parenting is so fraught that everything about this afternoon is stressful. How? Let me count the ways.

1. I sent out an email about it, not mailed, themed invitations. I’ve literally laid awake at night thinking about this and about how sad my etiquette-loving, Southern mother must be about how her daughter turned out to be such a Godless monster.
2. In that email, I pretended that my husband and I were throwing such a super laid-back party that there was no need to even RSVP. And now I don’t know how many cupcakes I need to make.
3. I didn’t invite my family/inlaws until the last minute, figuring they wouldn’t make the several-hour-long trek to just hang out in a park. They are also helping with our upcoming move; two treks to New York it too much. I was right, they can’t make it, and even though I understand 100 percent why, I’m a sad-faced emoticon.
4. I only invited friends-with-kids and super close friends of ours, even though I have plenty of single friends. Do I invite my single friends? I mean, who in their right mind would want to go to a 2-year-old’s birthday party in the park in the middle of the afternoon for an off-season Easter egg hunt? But — and here is where the crazy really sets in — maybe they think I’m purposely excluding them because they don’t have kids. Even though the only reason I am inviting those friends with kids is because we’re all in this special hell together and I know they have nothing else going on. Or, what if I invite them and then see them a few weeks later posting a snarky essay to Facebook about the horrors of being invited to a toddler’s birthday when you don’t have children of their own and how it sucked to spend money on a present even though I specifically mentioned in the shoddy e-mail invite (not mailed, themed ones) that I said no gifts? I’m getting worked up just typing this, folks.
5. Even though I said no gifts, people are going to bring gifts and I’ll have to send thank you notes. I’m moving my entire life at the end of the month and work is insane. I will never, ever find the time to send a thank you note. Everyone will then forever think I’m an ungrateful mooch.

This has been an ongoing conversation in my household for the past week and my husband is going slightly berserk. He’s what you call “rational” and “easy-going” (not faux easy-going like me) and people seem to overlook when he doesn’t write thank you notes.  He just wants to go hang out in the park for a few hours and celebrate our precious, funny, little boy. If people can get there, fine. If they can’t, fine. If they don’t get a cupcake, they will live.  You can see what a nightmare my life is, right?

However, I was struck with a happy thought this morning as we were taking Sam to the playground. Sam was swinging, laughing heartily while we discussed next weekend’s birthday party.  I turned from making faces at Sam to clutch Nat’s arm in excitement. “Nat,” my eyes glittered at the thought. “Maybe it will rain.”

Nat, having lived with me for many years and very aware of the inner workings of my head, smiled.  “We can only hope,” he responded.

Follow Dorothy Robinson on Twitter, @dorothyatmetro.


MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…


U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…


Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…


Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…


Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.


Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm


Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.


Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."


Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.


Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.


Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…


Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…