A Tea Par-TEE Makes Me Cra-ZEE

I’m working on about five different posts at the moment, but I can’t seem to get a single one to completion. My brain is definitely elsewhere, and I’ll tell you where it’s gone: to Crazy Tea Party Land. This weekend, we (I) will be hosting a birthday party for my daughter, who is turning five, and I am OBSESSED.

This is not just any kid party. Oh no. My daughter wants a My Little Pony Tea Par-TEE (emphasis on the tee, you know, like “I want to PAR-TEEEE!”) A tea party! I’ve hosted a few tea-esque gatherings in my day, and the genre is one I know well and LOVE.

You can tell I’m excited, I’m sure. I can’t seem to stop using my caps lock button. But that’s not why I’m writing. Actually, when I started this post, that was why I was writing. I was going to go into great detail about the menu (and that may still be to come, if anyone’s at all interested, or even if you’re not). But now I’m writing because I’ve had a tea party awakening, if you will.

In some circles, kid parties have spiraled into crazy land, with parents spending great gobs of money so that their children can act like spoiled royalty. There’s even a TV show about it. (Of course, these days, what is there not a TV show about?) Luckily, I do not run in these circles. Even so, even without hiring an event planner and renting an elephant and crocheting individual party hats, I still manage to crazy it up inside my head.

Parties are supposed to be about celebration and love and community, about sharing and joy and transition. But instead, parties tend to kick me into a different state of consciousness. They are like the President’s red phone, except with a direct line to my insecurities. From the moment the party planning begins, all my focus is instantly on what others will think. The house must be perfect! The food must be perfect! The flowers must be perfect! All creativity is now a slave to the party gods, all spontaneity must cease, and EVERYTHING IS NOW ABOUT THE PARTY!

I’d like to say I wasn’t always like this, but that would be a total lie. Actually, I wonder if I used to be like this all the time, even when I wasn’t about to host a party. It seems that, years ago, rather than taking the odd vacation to crazy perfection land, I lived there and managed to sneak in a trip to the spa of sanity every now and then. So I guess I’m glad the scale has tipped towards sanity these days (or at least what seems like sanity to a sleep-deprived mother of three), but a party still has that special ability to tip me over backwards in an instant.

It’s so sad, actually. When I go into this state all my priorities are completely out of whack. I think of myself as a person who prizes love and the happiness of those I love over image and impressing others, and yet all I need to do is think for a moment of inviting a bunch of people into my home and suddenly all I can think about is how my dining room will look.

I was given a gift today, this tea party awakening about my own craziness. Usually this is the kind of thing that occurs to me after the party is over. But this time I am somehow aware of it now, when the party is still a week out. So I’m wondering what to do with this gift. The obvious answer seems to be that I refocus all my energies, initially geared towards impressing others, onto creating a joyous experience for my daughter.

I had actually been tempted this past week to commandeer the guest list and invite some of my friends in addition to my daughter’s. So now I sheepishly realize that’s out. I had wanted to have a menu that was “pure,” meaning only food that would be at a traditional afternoon tea, but now I can hear how that smacks of rigidity, so I’m wondering if that means I need to throw some PB&Js into the mix. And I’m pretty sure my daughter would feel extra special if I took the time to curl her hair before the party. We all know how precious those few hours are before a party begins, jam-packed with last minute jobs, but I can see the right thing to do is to take a few moments away from party prep to make her feel like a princess.

It would probably make for a better article if I could say all this is easy for me, or that I’ve completely learned my lesson. I know, however, that this is not true. This lesson (and its accompanying madness) will be circling back around again in the form of next year’s string of birthday parties or that dinner party I keep meaning to host.

One of the posts I have half-written is about the benefits of practice. Here is one I need to add: One benefit of practice is that it provides you with ample opportunities to get a clue about the lessons you can’t seem to learn. On the topic of How to Throw a Party and Stay Sane While Doing It, I definitely need more practice. And no worries there, because with three kids, I’m going to get it.

© Amy Daniewicz

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