Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ridiculously Out of Control

"I'm just not looking forward to today", he says between deep sighs. Bry is leaning against the sink in the kitchen, while I sit looking through the doorway, at the expansive dining room table, various pirate related material at my fingertips.

It is nine o'clock, the morning of Moira's fourth birthday. Between running around making last minute goodie bag additions, I am navigating my to-do list to the best of my ability. His words and the disgusted look on his face stop me dead in my tracks.

"What are you talking about?" I mutter, lifting my eyes from the gluing to the living room where the girls sit, their own eyes glued to the television. Gesturing to our daughter, I continue, "It's Mo's fourth birthday! How can you be anything but excited? She's thrilled!"

On cue, she focuses her attention to us and chimes in, "I'm so excited for my Pirate party today!".

"Me too, baby!" I squeal. "Me too!"

Putting the glue stick down, I shuffle hesitantly into the kitchen.

"You just don't get it" he starts, "You do all this shit. Plan this party for what, months? You're the freaking ring master here, while I get to be the labor. Seriously, what do I do this whole party? Run around like a madman. Cooking shit on the grille, setting up all these ridiculous games outside, then cleaning them all up. I never get to enjoy these parties, while everyone tells you how wonderful they are. I've been dreading this since the moment I woke up."

Stunned, his words hit me like a swift blow to the gut.

"Are you fucking serious?" I ask. "You decide to tell me this the morning of the freaking party, not over the past few weeks while I was planning."

He looks up, as our eyes meet.

Those green eyes tell me everything, a result of sixteen years together. I know he is down.  He doesn't need to say another word, but instead he goes on.

"You seriously just don't get it. You are so fucking selfish. Look at the pictures from the past parties, Jac. Where am I? I think Maeve's party this year was the first one where I'm actually in photos, and that was just luck."

I am flabbergasted, confused, and mad

What can I say?

In three hours my house will be filled with friends and family.
In three hours I will be the happy hostess as we celebrate my Mo's fourth birthday.
In three hours my backyard will house a moon bounce.
In three hours Bry will be manning the grill.
In three hours we need to get our shit together.

What should I say?
What is the right thing to say in a moment like this?

I choose to say nothing.

"I've got to go add sand to the sandbox, and then set up the Walk the Plank. I just want you to realize how out of control this shit gets. I mean, really? Do you think anyone else does this crap? She's four not fourteen. She doesn't need half this shit. Seriously, it would be nice to not have to do anything." he finishes, leaving me in the kitchen with my thoughts.

The rest of the morning flies by in a blink as we respectively finish our to-do list just as our guests arrive at noon. The party goes on without a hitch, as our Pirates craft, eat, run, jump, fish, balance, and dig their little hearts out.

It is a success, but those words resonant through my brain even as the compliments start rolling in via texts, emails, and facebook status updates.

Am I selfish? 
Am I out of control? 
Am I ridiculous? 

Yes. I am. 

The problem with Bryan's argument however is that he thinks I should be upset by this, and over the course of the party, I realized that I am not. 

I cannot be upset, because this crazy, out of control, ridiculous person I am with my children is genetic. 

Don't believe me?

Consider the following evidence:

This is Mo, my brother, and my father at Moira's party. 

Yes, my brother in eye liner and a wig, while my father is in the eye patch and my mom's white blouse. 

This is who I am. 

I am the daughter of the man who would stand in line for an hour at Busch Gardens so we could ride Alpine Geist. 

I am the daughter of the woman who when I asked for a swimming cake for my birthday, figured out that using my trophies as swimmers, and lifesaver candies as lane lines would make a fairly good representation of a competition pool. 

I am the sister to the man who dressed up as Buzz Lightyear for Halloween last year because he thought his third graders would enjoy it. 

I am the sister to the woman who forgoes sleep to bake brownies for the nurse's birthday at the office where she is a pediatrician. 

I am the woman who plans ridiculous, time consuming, over the top parties, because this is the only way I know how to do things. 

It's in every fiber of me to get giddy over celebrations, to search for the perfect favors, to bake cupcakes and dip marshmallows in melted chocolate, to plan parties like this one. 

This is who I am.
And I can't be sorry for that. 

I can, however, realize that my out of control planning does affect the people around me, primarily Bry. He is right to extent, that I don't need to do all the activities I think. 

Editing has never been my strong suit. 

However, I did make sure this year that when it was time to sing Happy Birthday, Bryan was immediately at my side behind the birthday girl as she blew out her candles. 

Our girl is four, her party was a success, and this year I realized that I don't have to do it all.  

Hopefully I remember that in January when Maeve's third birthday comes around. 

Linking up with Shell of Things I Can't Say

And because it's Wednesday, linking up with the best little Blog Link up around, Yeah Write #51

In conclusion, this post won me, from the Yeah Write Duchess herself, Erica M.


  1. I can so relate! But Michael worries about my sanity too, lol

  2. Someone forgot to read the Daddy Manual, chapter 2: Birthday Parties, where in fine print at the bottom it says: "Part of your job is to allow your wife to get crazy around birthday parties. If you have a gripe about it, never, ever bring said gripe up on the morning of said party or you will be doomed."
    Seriously? Not good timing.
    Loved this post and I love your dad. And the eyeliner.

  3. oooh i LOVE the photo to back up your genetics claim. spot on!! :)
    i totally understand all of this though. my husband is constantly getting upset at me for wanting to get every little thing photographed because he just wants to "enjoy it now." to that i say, why can't we do both?

  4. I'm not very good at sympathizing with a non-party excited person. I personally can't plan such elaborate parties just stresses me out. :O) BUT I do come from a family where birthday celebrations are super important and I remember how devastated I was when my exhusband snuffed that out. He hated birthdays.

    I suppose I see Dad's side in that I'm most always the one running around taking pictures of everything and everyone which means that I'm rarely IN any of the photos. So "I" changed how I did things. I took more pictures of myself with other people and handed the camera off to someone so I could jump in a shot.

    Amazing post today <3

  5. When Mo is older and looks at all the pictures and remembers all the parties you can make sure she knows both Mommy and Daddy got ready for the parties! Just keep Bryan included in the pictures during these parties! Can't wait till January for Maevie's third party! LOL!!!

  6. Aw, sounds like he just wanted more recognition for all his hard work. Get him in those pics! And keep planning awesome parties :)

  7. I can totally understand...I love going over the top for all celebrations and I think its because of my mom. How cool of your Dad and Brother to dress up! Its hard to make a point of doing family pics, when you are focused on your little one. They are only 4 once.

  8. To me, going overboard is the very meaning of a celebration!

  9. What can I say. . .I'm making a four-layer cake today to celebrate Opening Day of baseball! I don't think you'll look back and regret going all-out for your children's birthdays. Happy fourth to your little one, by the way!

  10. I was exactly like that. I've learned over the years to tone it down a little.
    But I will still be someone who goes out of her way to make my children's Birthdays extra special. You are very wise. You dealt wisely with the situation and you made some wise realizations.
    Stay just as ridiculous as you are, maybe tone it down a notch when you have to. Your father and brother: awesome!

  11. I like this post because you show how marriage really works. It's a give and take, a balancing act. And then the convincing photo of your brother and dad - that is who you are - really well done. This is life in all its messy glory!

  12. I definitely see both sides. Ugh, that was annoying for him to bring it up right before the party though!

  13. I can relate to this...we've had moments, fights like this. Guys have the worst timing, though. The worst. Well, mine does.:) I love your writing here.

    Oh my gosh! Your dad, your brother!! That is just awesome.

  14. oh my goodness, I heard myself and my husband in this post. We do and do and do for our kiddos--but what is the end result? This was so honest and real and I can relate to being the ringmaster too. Maybe not great timing on your husband's part to have that conversation--but at least now you know how he feels.

  15. Jackie, your honesty is SO refreshing. Maybe some kind of a compromise can come of all of this.

  16. oh, i feel so for you - i am totally the same way. while your husband may have a point, he didn't exactly pick the best time!! good luck in january!

  17. I saw it said already about guys and timing. So true. I've had fights like this too. Glad your daughter enjoyed her party and I'm sure she'll remember them for a lifetime!!

  18. Sometimes we don;t realize our planning the perfect party involuntarily commits our husbands to something they aren't nearly as excited about. Could his deliver have been kinder, sure! But way to go for having the ability to look in the mirror. That's hard!

  19. That party sounds awesome, but I admit I don't have it in me. My 4yo twins had a party at the park where we all got to relax, have some cake, and chit chat while the kids played at their favorite playground. Planning is not my strong suit. But I WILL send you my address so I can come to YOUR next party. ;)

  20. I'm the total opposite of you in a way. I do overcommit on things, but I'm not extravagant, if that makes any sense. As in when I started blogging, I threw my heart and soul into it, to the point of neglecting everything. I have a desire to make everything I am involved in #1 priority. Which means other things slide. And that does happy bunnies make with people around me.

    So I get it. I do.

  21. I am so not good at planning parties like that! I can throw my entire self into other things, I just haven't been a great party planner.

  22. Bad timing, reasonable sentiments Mr. Husband of Party-Planner. He maybe could've initiated that conversation even, er, the night before? But I'm maybe a bad person to ask about this issue b/c child #2 didn't have an "invite other people besides family" birthday party until he was in kindergarten. He had cake and presents and so forth but all the trappings...nah. Couldn't do it. I suppose eventually he will realize that, in fact, I do love him less than his older brother. Ah well. Your party, on the other hand, looks fantabulous, and having relatives who plunge in with full spirit is just great.

  23. I can definitely understand both sides of the argument, but do agree that there could have been a MUCH better time to do it. Like you said, you may not be the best at editing down your if he said something a few weeks before instead of a few hours before, he might have been able to help you do that. Maybe you can both keep that in mind when the next party rolls around.

  24. Don't beat yourself up too much. I think moms in general do what you do and dads in general do what Bry does. Sometimes it may not seem fair to the dads, sure, but you didn't maliciously try to leave him out of pictures or overwhelm him, and now that you understand how that can affect him, you're obviously kind enough to try to tone it down a little.

    But it's definitely NOT a bad thing that you go over the top to make your kids' birthdays special. In fact, it's a very sweet and admirable thing. :)

  25. I would like to give you a big hug for your honesty. And a high five to your husband for standing up and saying something, although his timing was terrifyingly eleventh hour! And I applaud your 16-year relationship. That's some work, sister.

  26. I always got the biggest kick out of your party planning and loved the pictures, and the kids look like love it. Spoiling kids and giving them special memories, never a bad thing.

    I'm a discuss-er probably due to my years of therapy after our family tragedy. To be honest I'd be pissed at the timing! Communicating no bomb dropping; that's my motto! Bombs always feel more like criticism than opinions!
    Sorry Jackie :(

  27. My husband and I have similar viewpoints on the birthday parties. He thinks they are a waste of time. I think they are a good outlet for my "I want to be a party planner when I grow up" side. I win, he grumbles, smiles for the candle blowing out and we both enjoy the smiles on the birthday face. I have backed off a bit myself. It's hard I know!

  28. The party sounds like it was wonderful!

    Maybe next time, Bry can help more with the planning?

    I'm the one who is often not in the pic at my kids' parties and I do get upset at that.

  29. Great job thinking it through, figuring out why you are the way you are and a way to make sure Bry is included in another way other than off to the side.

    Great post.

    ~the G is silent

  30. i think you meant you wrote this about my son's 5th birthday pirate party. my husband got in the worst fight about it.... just awful. He says I throw them just for me and my brother and friends to dress up...I mean, he's got a small point, but the timing? is awful. I hear ya.

  31. Birthday party is what memories are made of. Your dad and brother are awesome. Give yourself a tiny pass, sure. But also keep being the awesomeness that you are!!

  32. I get this. I can be the same way, and I get mad when my husband doesn't help out enough!

  33. I was astonished when I scrolled down to the picture of your brother, father, and Mo. Such commitment says to kids, "You are important." When kids are grown, they are going to have so much on their much to figure out, work out, many moments to forget their special significance in the world--significance which is theirs just for being born. Yes, we should be confirming their greatness daily, but birthdays are big. It's the anniversary of their BIRTH. I'm sorry you argued on her day. I hope were able to come to a resolve and can together enjoy your children's birthdays in the future.

  34. What Bryan forgot was that none of this should be about HIM. The reason he should be setting up games, manning the grill, cleaning up is because it is about his daughter and her happiness, not his. His involvement was probably a couple of hours, big deal. You are the one that took on the lion's share of planning and decorating and coordinating if anyone should be complaining it should be you and you are not because you are thinking about your daughter's happiness not the amount of work. Please don't ever feel you have to compromise on something like this, you are creating really special memories for your children and that is important.


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