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the day we went to the birthday party that wasn’t
It was a perfectly bright, pretty standard Saturday morning this past weekend until it became the day we went to the birthday party that wasn’t. After a rough Friday evening with two boys that just couldn’t wind down (totally blaming the full harvest moon), we had a fun morning of pancakes, interesting breakfast table conversations and an episode or two of Dino Truck. Shailen went to soccer with daddy and off I went with Jai to Tae Kwon Do. He had a great class of sparring, honestly the best he’s done in awhile. We rushed off afterwards to get to his classmate Eliot’s birthday party. A party that had been threatened to be off our weekend schedule on numerous occasions during the week and especially Friday night, if Mr. Jai couldn’t get his listening ears turned on. But after such a great Saturday morning, I kept telling my little ninja that he had really earned it and that we would have the best time at the party.
We walked into Boomers (the venue for this party), another highlight because it would be our first visit there. Jai’s eyes popped at all the video games, the lights, the candy machines, the kids all having such a good time. Honestly, my eyes were poppin’ from all of it too, but that’s a different story. Anyways, straight to the Party Zone counter we went.
“We’re here for Eliot’s party.”
Guy at the counter looks at me – blank stare and montone voice.
Guy at the counter: “Umm…there’s no Eliot on schedule for today, maam.”
Words inside my head: “Wait whhhaaat…whadiya mean there’s no party for Eliot today????”
Me: “Are you serious?”
Guy at counter:“Yes, no Eliot today. Maybe try Fountain Valley location?”
Words inside my head: “There’s no way it’s in Fountain Valley…oh God, I’ve messed up the day or the weekend or something. Oh my gosh. Jais is going to KILL ME. Ohmygosh, I have to get out of here fast before Jai has a complete meltdown. Jai cannot know that mommy is confused. Hitesh (hubby) is going to advise me to devise a new calendaring system. Ok, let’s bounce.”
Me: “Ok, thanks. I have the invite in the van. I’ll check it out. Thanks again. “ (insert several nervous laughs)
Jai: “Mommy, did Eliot party move days? What happened Mommy? MOMMYYYY?”
Me: “Hold on Jai man!! Ok, let’s check this invitation. OHHHH, it’s tomorrowwww. Ok buddy, no worries. We will come back to Boomers tomorrow!”
Jai: “NOOOOOOOOOOOO – I WANNA GO NOW! I WANNA PLAY GAMES! I WANNA GO TO ELIOT’S PARTY!!!!!
Me: “Jai, mommy made a mistake with the dates and the party is actually tomorrow. We will come back tomorrow and you can play games and eat cake and see Eliot and all of your friends…it will be so fun!”
Insert loud wailing – “BUT MOMMMMMMMMMMMMY, YOU’RE A GROWN UP! YOU DON’T MAKE MISTAKES. YOU’RE MOMMY!”
Needless to say, it was a “fun” car ride home. I felt like the WORSE. I mean, I have had several scheduling fails but never like this. Never with a party. Even with the boys’ schedules getting increasingly challenging, I’ve always managed to get them where they need to be and for the most part, on time. And in this case, I used this party as leverage and a reward for Saturday – which he totally did earn. On top of this, we all know how tied to a date and time kids are. I felt horrible. I knew I couldn’t give into my guilt by taking him to Target and letting him go to town in the toy section – I literally almost caved into my own voice telling me to do it. Instead, I thought now here is a teaching opportunity. One that we haven’t really had to deal with too much. Kids making mistakes- yes on the daily. But parents, not as many in front of them when they are now older and wise enough to understand and know and react to the difference.
Instead of appeasing him with a treat, staying at Boomers or getting a new toy…we talked about mistakes. That kids and grown ups alike make them, That life is all about learning from our mistakes. I reminded him that daddy and mommy constantly remind him and Shailen that it’s ok to make mistakes, just like we remind each other as well. In this learning moment…one of the most important lessons I taught him is that I’m just like him…that we are all people too and we all can and will make the same mistakes. That no one is perfect. That this is certainly not the first and will certainly not be the last mistake I make. The last oops.
That life is not perfect.
Kids need to see parents make mistakes and actually acknowledge them. Teaching them to be flexible and adjusting to whatever changes need to happen in that moment, day, week, in life. It’s important to seize those chances when something goes wrong to show them how essential it is to take a step back, analyze, admit what happened, and making a plan to fix it and/or moving on. To learn. To not be so hard on yourself or others. Teaching them that sometimes the issue can be resolved and other times, it cannot and that is OK too.
That this is life.
To be honest, he was better way sooner than me. He wanted to paint when we got home with his brother, and that’s exactly what we did. I pushed lunch back and made that painting happen. He forgot about the party – he moved on. He had a good Saturday.
Did I? Not as fast. I hate letting them down – letting my family down with anything. The wrong meal, the wrong shirt, forgetting their favorite snack at pick up. That mommy guilt though – it’s the worse.
I know that I am not alone in this mistake – I know that many of my mommy friends have had their own “day they went to the birthday party that wasn’t”. And they reminded me – to not be so tough on myself. That it happens. But we all know that it’s different when it happens to you, when it affects your children. We are so tough on ourselves, us mommas.
So in addition to having that teaching moment with the kids, it’s equally important to remind yourself, that life happens. Constantly need to remind ourselves especially as parents, that bad days will happen, that mistakes will forever be embedded into the journey of parenting, of life. And as mothers, even with these reminders, you will probably always carry the blame for not doing something just right. For forgetting to do the last load of laundry -the one with the school uniforms need to be clean and pressed and ready to go for Monday morning, for that insane diaper rash because you didn’t realize there was a poop explosion when you were busy buying groceries for dinner or for going to the birthday party that wasn’t. The list can go and on. And it will.
We have to remind ourselves that there are no guidelines or rules to being that perfectly perfect parent that has it all down to a science. Everything super organized, planned and perfect. That parent doesn’t exist. We have to code it into our brains though, this:
That it is through our mistakes that we can become an even better, wiser version of the parent that we already are. It is in this journey that we can make our goal, not to be perfect, but instead role models and individuals for our kids to look up to, to be proud of.
The story ends well. On the day after the day that the party wasn’t, we made it to the party and Jai + mommy had a blast with the birthday boy!