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Birthday Blizzard

snowThis weekend we celebrated one of my kid’s birthdays. A party for our child that has a hard time fitting in. Her birthday always plunges me into a state of anxiety because every party “no” rsvp breaks her heart.

And the truth of the matter is that it’s not always because the kids don’t want to come. Life is busy and the weekends are a time when parents cram everything they can into forty-eight hours including having parties and family get togethers of their own.

But then there are the kids who don’t want to come just because they don’t want to come. Those are the hardest to cope with. Every year we go through the rejection and I’d like to say it gets easier every year. It doesn’t.

This year I suggested she invite five friends to go see the Lego movie and then a visit to Build-A-Bear with a grand finale of pizza and cake at our favorite pizza joint.

A hard invitation to turn down, right? I freely admit that I make her parties as enticing as possible to encourage participation. I’m not beyond bribery when it comes to my daughter’s mental health. I know I’ll catch flack for that. So be it.

Two of the five girls invited said yes. And even though she was disappointed that three said no, I emphasized how awesome it was that two said yes. Sometimes I feel like I’m more of a cheerleader than a mother.

A cheerleader trying to stay cheery when our team is getting our butts kicked by the opposition. Big plastered on smile, pom poms frantically shaking and praying for that hail Mary pass that will save the game.

Sometimes parenting feels like a sporting event, doesn’t it?

The party day arrives. I anxiously check the weather and guess what? You’ll never believe it. We are expecting a blizzard. Another one. Will this winter ever end? The only thing that keeps me sane is that the brunt of the snow is not supposed to hit us until late that night.

The party is at 2:30pm, so we are safe. Or so we think even though the snow is falling at an alarming rate.

I pile the girls into the car, get to the theater and breathe a huge sigh of relief when both guests arrive safely. I want to hug their parents. We head into the movie theater and everyone eats an alarming amount of candy, popcorn and soda. And they love me for it.

As soon as the credits are rolling, I rush the kids out of the theater because we only have a half of an hour between the movie and dinner which means we need to stuff those bears in a jiffy.

We leave the theater only to find that the mall is closing due to a snow emergency. The movie ended at 4:55 and the mall was to close at 5:00. And with that realization I announced to the girls to RUN to Build A Bear. Which is exactly what we did. And by some miracle we made it just before they shut their doors, panting and probably looking a little crazed.

At this point I needed a vodka tonic, but sadly their is no bar at Build A Bear.

Once the bears were stuffed, we braved the elements to the pizza parlor. Thank God I drive a SUV and also that I grew up in Michigan where the snowstorms make New England storms look like flurries. I know how to drive in bad weather.

The weather guessers were way off this time and we were driving in the worst of it. Had I known it was going to be as bad as it was, I would’ve rescheduled the party. But there was no way of predicting how fast it would get ugly. And ugly it was.

The kids had great fun at dinner, but I was too busy worrying about the parents safely reclaiming their kids to enjoy it.

As I sat at that table watching my daughter laugh and chat with her friends, I thought about the risks we take as parents. And I’m not talking physical risks either.

Truth be told, I would’ve canceled the party had I known just how bad the weather would turn. No smile on my daughter’s face is worth risking her safety or her friend’s and their family’s safety.

I’m talking about mental risks. It would’ve been so much easier to hold a family party someplace super fun just to guarantee that she would have a good time. Maybe a stay at a hotel with an indoor water park. Or snow tubing at a local ski resort. You know, an activity that would guarantee no risk of rejection.

Inviting peers to a party is a dicey thing when you have a socially awkward child. There are no guarantees that anyone will come. It’s a huge risk that’s hard to take as a parent. Our instinct is to protect our kids at all costs.

But sometimes you just can’t protect them. And that’s where they learn life’s greatest lessons. Rejection isn’t an easy lesson to learn, but it is inevitable. Hell, I still deal with it myself and it doesn’t hurt any less than it did when I was a child.

But as a parent, that’s when you grab those pom poms and furiously shake them. Even if you’re faking it. Making your kids look at the positives when they can’t see them. Even if you can’t see them. Parents also need to be great actors too.

In the end it all worked out. It took an hour to drive the seven miles from the pizza parlor back to my house if that gives you any idea of how bad the roads were. I’m so thankful that the party guests got home safely too. God bless those parents for not being afraid of driving in snow.

I’m also thankful that my daughter had a good time.

She won’t remember me hitting refresh on the weather report on my laptop hourly the days before her party. She won’t remember me stressing over whether or not those two “yes” kids would get the flu or have a family emergency which would turn them into “no” rsvps. And she won’t remember my white knuckles gripping the steering wheel during that awful drive home that night, silently praying to God that he would protect us.

She will only remember the fun parts and for that I’m so very thankful.

Comments

  1. I think that the fact that the children turned up and their parents bought them despite the weather means that they really did want to come, it would have been very very easy to blame the weather on such a day, so the fact that they came – and I bet had a great time! – means they really wanted to be there!! And hey, if there had been 20 children there is no way that you would have done all of this, so don’t kill yourself looking on it as bribery, it was a small select event with only the best people there, which meant that you could push the boat out a bit further! That is a much more positive viewpoint to take on it. I am so glad that she had a party and had a good time! Happy Birthday little one!!!! xx

    • Oh trust me, I view this whole experience as a positive. I feel badly if it came across negative. You have no idea how relieved I am that this worked out. So thankful.

      • No, absolutely not negative in any way Melanie, I was just meaning how good it was that they REALLY wanted to come because there were so many chances for them not to come, so I think that it was a GREAT thing! I think that you expressed it in that way as well. Please please please don’t ever think that I would mean anything that I say negatively or that I would think that you would mean that either – unless I am being deliberately “I’m not happy about …….” then I am never being negative. I am just so glad that it happened and that such a good time was had by all!! xxxx

  2. What “Amy at love made my home” said so well, and double it for me. You were brave to dare the rejections, also. I hope those girls who attended go back to school and rave about what a wonderful time they had with your daughter. I think they will . . .

    • Agreed. I think the girls had a lot of fun. But most importantly I hope this fosters stronger bonds between the girls. My daughter could use some true allies.

  3. Happy President’s Day Melanie. I agree with you, Amy and Ranger; the kids who did come will rave about the great fun they had with a movie, Build a Bear and a pizza dinner. Recommendation for next time; tell the parents to pick the kids up about 20 minutes earlier than you think all the festivities will be over and invite them to grab a drink and a slice of any leftovers that the kids haven’t scarfed down after all the popcorn and candy at the movies! I’m very glad you had a safe and enjoyable event and I’m sure it is memorable also! We are cheerleaders and don’t ever stop shaking your pom poms girl. My Mom and Dad still shake them for me and it is comforting. Happy Birthday to your daughter!

  4. so glad she had fun. I was a socially awkward kid too so I know how much every friend matters!

    • Yes! every friend does matter. Throughout my life I’ve only had a handful of friends at any given time. As a child that wasn’t by choice. But as an adult, it’s entirely by choice. A few quality friends is worth so much more than dozens of acquaintances.

  5. Happy birthday to Shannon! So glad it went well and she had a good time!!! (Hugs)

  6. You are an amazing mom!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I think if w realized that being a parent involved the “hard stuff” like this, there might be fewer of us. I am glad you are all safe and sweet memories were made for your daughter. THAT is what childhood should be about.

  8. I laughed when you said you felt like a cheerleader for your daughter. I have often said I feel like a coach for my oldest son. We never do big parties, just small family gatherings. We were out in that crazy blizzard too for the last weekend of basketball season. Glad you are all safe.

  9. I love reading your blog, because you are such an inspiration to me as a mom. My son is also socially challenged (am beginning to suspect Asberger’s, but that could just be my inner hypochondriac speaking) and doesn’t get invited to parties and sleepovers. It breaks my heart when I see how sad he looks after talking about invitations that everyone but him received. You are so right about having to be a cheerleader for our children. Your daughter will grow up to be happy and well rounded as a result, that’s for sure. And that will definitely be a birthday to remember!

    • God, that breaks my heart when they talk about not getting invited to whatever party is at hand. Seriously, slays me. Prayers for your little one that he finds a special buddy who can accept him the way he is.

  10. You done good.

    “Maybe a stay at a hotel with an indoor water park…” Hmmm … ;)

  11. I have to admit, being from TX, when I read the title of this post I thought you bought someone an ice cream treat from Dairy Queen for their birthday… But this sounds like a great birthday treat to :) glad y’all all made it back home safe! I never drive in the snow! Back to that being from TX thing ;)

  12. One year my sister had a party and no one came! A bunch of girls decided to say yes and then ditch! It broke her heart! Thankfully she has 10 sisters and we always have a friend in them!

  13. Oh my! I would have loved to come to your daughter’s party! Yes…I’m a 31 year old female. It still sounds like fun! Your kids are all amazing from everything I’ve read on your blog! I wish I could spend a day with your family! You all seem like sooo much fun! I’m SO glad your daughter and her friends had a fun time on her birthday! Glad you’re all safe as well! This year has brought lots of crazy weather with it! That’s for sure! HUGS!

  14. Did anyone see the news flash? No, not the weather. The newly nominated Oscar best female Actor. Yes it is Melanie, you got nominated and my vote says you win.

    The life you create for your family is picture perfect- yes I know we all have our ups and down. But my oh my, you make the bad look good. You have created a Legacy, and I am happy to read, learn, eat and pray when I read your post ( i do have my exceptions, we all do anyways) I love your honestly of your feelings and life.
    I see my sister in you or is it you in my sister. Anyways; my sister puts together some over the top birthday parties for one of her daughter’s; I would roll my eyes ( not in her presence) but I would ask her why she is wasting so much money (my opinion- not that it is the right one). NOW, I GET IT! I read this and I get it- what wouldn’t any mother do to make her child or children happy. Especially when you see the pain of rejection that you cannot control. You go that extra mile, and more for your child.

    When I have my children and husband – I want to pick all the awesome qualities you have.

    ( PS- now i forgive you on the ice-cream truck, although I recall you relented :-) )

    Thanks for your honestly and love. Many blessings to the two girls and families that made your daughters day special.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY GIRL.

  15. Socially awkward… sigh.
    I’m going to be the cheerleader this summer with my boy’s party. Thanks for the encouragement.

  16. Michelle L. says:

    At least your daughter’s birthday is in February. Mine is 4 days before Christmas and I could never get anyone to come to a party. They had Christmas parties to attend, church Christmas programs, or the parents had work Christmas parties or family commitments. Just remember that there’s always someone worse off.

    Happy birthday to your daughter!

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