I used to be a career mom, that is to say I continued with my workaholic lifestyle a year and a half into having a baby. Then things changed. Priorities refocused and here I am now as a stay at home mom (SAHM). I did not realize at the time that I was entering an entirely different ‘mom world’ than the one I had experienced thus far.
As a working mom majority of my time and mind was preoccupied with work related deadlines, projects and the stress that came with it. If there was a baby related issue that didn’t need me directly it was usually handled by the Holy Trifecta of Matriarchs i.e. my mother, mother in law and sister-in-law. Amen!
This also meant I was missing out on all the day time play dates and mommy conversation over a cuppa chai. Here is where the real rules of this mama world were taught, cleverly disguised as ‘gup shup.’ Topics ranging from the right preschool, the right amount of weight loss post baby, the ‘flavour of the week’ pediatrician, the superior breast vs looked down upon bottle, the hunt for the right nanny and of course showing how much you love your child by the kind of birthday party you throw for them (amongst many other discussions du jour).
I was clearly trailing behind on a ‘mom-ducation’ and my homework has now piled up. Join me as I discuss my notes on each ‘subject’ in hopes to ace this SAHM certification.
Today’s lesson: The Birthday Party
I am about to throw my first SAHM birthday party for my toddler; first party in a new city with new school friends and their mamas. In ‘Mom’ world this is a big deal. It will set the tone of the kind of mom you want to be portrayed as. The pressure starts almost immediately. My daughter is about to turn 3 (more like 13) and already I feel my mom status will be stripped away from me if it is not a success. This will be further determined by a tricky balance of effort. Too little and you’re deemed the ‘un-involved, uncaring’ mom. Too much and you’re suddenly the one every mama hates to hear about, the ‘holier than thou, she made everything herself! ‘Super Mom. Too professional and you are the ‘too busy so hired people’ mom.
The planning process has already driven me to the looney bin, literally. I spent four hours at Dollarama the other day trying to figure out party favours. Then there is the fact that I have to accommodate the entire ‘khandaan.’ Can you imagine what would happen if I had my daughter’s first birthday in Canada without calling the extended family? Forget the other mama’s, there goes grandma’s pearls. Immediately the guest list gets complicated because you have to make sure you don’t miss out anyone from your visiting Chachi (aunt) you haven’t met since you were a teenager to the cousin twice removed.
Now we all know when Desis get together especially for a celebration they are loud and proud about it. Considering I was aiming to ‘impress’ not ‘distress’ the school ‘goras’ with my birthday party skills and also because the party room will not be able to fit everyone it has to get split into two, back to back. That means TWO cakes. That’s right I am not risking getting the disapproving ‘tsk tsk’ head shake by serving a half-eaten cake to Dada-ji. Call me crazy but I have to rely on cultural bias to come into play; Party 1: punctual Party 2: guests will arrive according to DST (desi standard time) of course. Plenty of time to do a quick clean up in between.
It was imperative I got this right. Truth be told, I had already earned the ‘too professional’ mom status when I had a career. Back then it was much easier to hire people (sometimes for free- bless my sister-in-law who made everything for my daughter’s 1st birthday!). Now with my status as a stay at home mom, to the outsider I had ‘all the time in the world’ to whip together a b-day bash worth remembering for years to come, right?
Not exactly- but there were those fabulous moms out there doing it! Unfortunately, if you were to ask another mother how that Super Mom managed it all, the response most likely would be “Of course if you have a nanny to watch the kids you can pretty much do anything.” Sadly it’s a knee jerk mechanism you inherit after birthing a child, along with stretch marks and back issues. Don’t ask.
So where is the balance? Well realization dawned on me while I was staring at my ‘birthday planning excel sheet’ (sorry-left over habit from previous corporate life). My muse, my inspiration, my daughter merrily skipping around me asks “Mama, are you planning my birthday party?” I thought, here I am wasting precious minutes worrying about what other people will think when the only person whose opinion matters is my child’s. (And boy, does she have opinions!)
The answer on how to have a well-balanced successful birthday party became very clear. I will plan things that I know my daughter will genuinely be delighted by. I will make things with her so she feels included throughout. I will try to make the birthday cake with her latest obsession decorated on it because I know how happy it will make her. I will not fret if it turns out below the deluded standards I have set for myself. I will not succumb to running to the Loblaw’s across the street either. I will wear that average cake proud, as with the rest of the party. Above all I will ENJOY the process.
Wish me luck and here is to hoping the birthday does not end with an epic tantrum. But then again, it’s her party so she can cry if she wants to.
Stay tuned for another lesson as I catch up on my mom-ducation as a stay-at-home mom!
What kind of birthday-planning mom are you? How do you balance time & effort when planning? Share your tips to help another mother out!
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