Some days I’m not sure where or when we crossed the line into being “that family”.
Was it choosing home birth? Cloth diapering? Getting rid of so much stuff? Selling our car?
At some point we decided that the more conventional path might not be the right one for us.
Growing up all I wanted was to be normal.
There wasn’t really a chance to blend in. Ever. I was taller than my teacher by sixth grade. I was the kid with no winter jacket. I lived in a house with a broken washing machine in the driveway.
Normal is boring, my mother would say. Who wants to be normal?
I do, was my response. All I wanted was to be just like everyone else. Guess jeans and a Club Monaco sweatshirt and somehow shrinking six inches would be a great start to being normal.
Eventually I accepted that normal wasn’t going to happen. Eventually I even liked that at least we had a story. While it wasn’t your run of the mill childhood there was enough good and enough love to balance out the terrible.
We’re having an almost normal third birthday part for our son.
In the past we’ve quietly celebrated the day of his birth. A cake and a song. No gift.
This year we want to mark the day with his little friends. I debated it for a while but after going to a few lovely third birthdays I knew I wanted to send out invitations and celebrate.
We’re simplifying a few things: activities instead of crafts, a homemade treat instead of a loot bag and I’ve already outsourced cupcakes after having a vision of myself piping frosting at three am (piping with what? We have no cake making supplies.). I’ll be almost seven months pregnant at the time of the party. I have no qualms about taking some shortcuts.
Almost normal except we have asked guests not to bring a gift.
We’re inviting quite a few people and if they all brought a gift it would double Henry’s toy collection. Possibly triple. Opening that many gifts would also be overwhelming and he wouldn’t have the time and focus to appreciate each one.
So I made a little note on the invitations: Your presence if our present. No gifts please.
Sure, some people will think it’s odd. Or that we’re denying our son some fun. But I’ve had to stop caring about what other people think. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect their opinions or try to understand them. It means that I’m not hurt when other people have negative opinions on our choices.
We’re not total kill-joys.
We are getting our son a gift this year.
I’m really excited about it. I know from seeing him play with a friend’s toys that he will be thrilled by it and use it a lot.
My normal parent confession: I’ve been thinking about him receiving this gift for a few weeks already. The excitement and joy on his face. What he’ll do with the gift once he has it in his hands. This really is a wonderful age for gift giving.
It’s taken 30+ years but I’m finally okay with being different.
I hope our friends come to the party and have a great time. I hope their impression was that it was fun, the kids had a great time and the food was tasty. I hope they don’t focus on the no gifts, no traditional loot bags and the lack of helium balloons.
If not, if the focus is on what isn’t there instead of what is, I’m okay with being “that family”.
I’ve been “that family” all my life.
Anyone else falling into the “that family” category? Does it bother you?