Dolly's blog: It’s another kids’ party and I’ll cry if I want to
I am so over kids’ parties.
Even when I was a kid they caused me trauma. Not being invited confirmed my gnawing fear that I didn’t fit in, but being invited was even worse. Had my mum bought a rubbish present? Had we got the right day? Why did my party dress look different? All that enforced fun seemed very not fun from my perspective. I loved the party bag, but what was to love about everyone looking and laughing at you whilst you tried to cut up a chocolate bar wearing woolly gloves, or woefully failed to pin the tail on the donkey. And as for clowns...
Fast-forward 30 years and I was planning my own kids’ birthday parties. This was what I now think of as my Cath Kidston period: several years of self-imposed overachievement where I lost my sanity by proving (mainly to myself) that I could continue my career trajectory whilst also being a Perfect Mother with vintage floral ironed tea towels. Hell-bent on this unachievable utopia I invited 100 people to our daughter’s first birthday party and wept because her Mini Boden outfit hadn’t arrived in time and a work crisis meant I hadn’t baked her birthday cake. Utter. Madness.
My sanity gradually returned and, although I still get maternal guilt about it, our family approach to birthdays these days is deliberately low-key. But (brace yourself for honesty) my antipathy towards parties lingers. Particularly:
• Spending precious weekend time in a soft play centre; sticky-carpeted, devoid of natural light and reeking of fried food and stale sandwiches. I’m sure they’re capable of triggering depression.
• When drop-and-go isn’t an option, having to stay until the bitter end making polite conversation, surreptitiously checking the time and wishing you were somewhere else. Anywhere else.
• The sheer administrative effort - even if your child is just the guest. Failure to RSVP seems to now be A Thing, and is definitely irritating. But is it only me who occasionally finds co-ordinating multiple invitations for multiple children (and the associated present and travel logistics) somewhat overwhelming. I hereby apologise for those invitations I never replied to in time because - well - my inbox is packed full of many, many other emails I haven’t replied to in time.
• The first world wastefulness of buying presents that almost certainly aren’t needed and quite possibly won’t be appreciated - then judging with the skill of a safe cracker precisely how long until you can chuck the party bag contents in the bin without your child noticing.
• Even worse [shivers as types], the suggested financial donation instead of present approach. Very London. The idea makes sense but it’s just so... wrong.
I appreciate the horror with which this honesty may be met - and am glad therefore that this blog is anonymous ;)
After 19 years of fee earning, Dolly now works in a management role in a London law firm. Working four days a week she has three children aged 12, 11 and 8, a wonderful (though often absent) husband and a charismatic dog who keeps her sane.
Category: A Citymother's Diary