Let me start by saying that this post is not meant to offend anyone at all. If you’re a parent who throws amazing elaborate birthday parties and you love it, manage to keep your sanity through it all, and still savor the moment with your children…KUDOS TO YOU!! I’m not that person, and I’m in awe of those who are. I’m a perfectionist to a fault sometimes which only adds to the stress when I do things like plan a birthday party. Please do not take offense to this…this is merely my experience and thoughts on the subject. Birthdays are meant to be cherished and celebrated in a way that works for you! I also realize there are many other circumstances other than my own that make this situation different. I know there are families who may only have one child and decide to go all-out because it’s their one child to do it with. I’m not judging other families and their choices at all, this is just my journey to seeing the bigger picture and I wanted to share it with others. Maybe this is all “old news” to everyone else and I’m just a slow learner…or maybe I’m not alone in my feelings and other parents out there can benefit. So here goes…

We live in a social-media driven world…I don’t think that’s a secret to any of us. I have an entirely different blog post that I could write about that but I’ll stick to the point of this post. If we choose to participate in social media we are flooded with sooooo much information and not all of it is good, healthy, or helpful at all.  Social media is addicting and time-consuming. In a lot of circumstances it’s not even close to a fair representation of reality. Honestly, if it wasn’t for being a photographer and needing social media platforms to gain exposure to potential clients, I would seriously consider deleting every social media account I have. Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc. could all basically be renamed to “make-me-feel-like-a-crap-mom-agram” haha. So…lets talk birthday parties….

It all started before I even had kids. I’d see the posts of other moms throwing these amazingly awesome birthday parties for their kids, meanwhile thinking “aww I can’t wait to plan parties for my babies someday.” Social media was grooming me to be “overachiever mom” before I even had kids. So, of course by the time I had my first baby I’d seen enough posts on Facebook and Pinterest to know how to throw one heck of a Birthday party, right?! So I did. I did it all! I planned months in advance. I planned the theme, I made the cake, made all the decorations, made the perfect birthday outfit for him…I did all the things. For Lane’s second birthday, I did even more. Not only did I do all the things I thought mattered, but I decided it would be a grand idea to become a “Cake Boss.” {insert eye roll}. I was a 10-year 4-H member…I got this…no problem. So, off to Pinterest I go to find the perfect cake…because all of the other “perfect” things I had planned for his party just weren’t enough, right? So I find the perfect farm cake because that’s the theme of the party. Since his party wasn’t on his actual birthday, my mom grabbed a Wal-Mart basketball cake for us to eat and celebrate on his actual birthday and I saved THE cake for his party. Here’s the finished product which I so happily couldn’t wait to post on Facebook so everyone could see what an awesome Mom I was. {I hope you can sense the sarcasm here?}farm birthday cake

Awesome, right? It only took me ALL FREAKING DAY and I’m not even slightly exaggerating. Not only did it take me all day, I destroyed my entire kitchen in the process and then had to manage to get everything clean and ready before everyone showed up for the party. Oh, and I had to get the food and everything else ready too…but it would be worth it because he would always remember this cake I worked so hard to make for him…so he could have the PERFECT second birthday party. (I will NEVER question why cake-makers charge what they do…they should charge a million dollars per cake). Just look that face….he loved it and will always remember the awesome cake Mommy made him…I just know it!


…except he didn’t. The party happened. I can’t remember any of it really. I was too busy being stressed out because I spent so much time on this cake, stressed about all the decorations, stressed about having the food in the perfect farm-themed containers, stressed about everything I didn’t need to be stressed about. I should have been stressed because I wasn’t spending time with my son for his birthday…time that I can’t get back. So, here’s the thing. I asked him after his birthday what his favorite part of his birthday was. Guess what he said….oh just guess…




His favorite part of his birthday was the BASKETBALL CAKE that Mamaw brought him for his birthday earlier that week. Waaaahhhhhhh. Seriously?!?! SERIOUSLY KID?!?!  He still to this day talks about his basketball cake and has never once mentioned his farm cake and doesn’t even remember it. It’s not my mom’s fault at all for bringing him the awesome Walmart basketball cake. She’s obviously been through this stage of her life and has a grasp on what really matters and is just “watching me learn.” She knows me well enough to know I will figure things out the “hard way” like I have my entire life. I should have learned my lesson then…but I didn’t. The next year I tackled Buzz Lightyear and lost my mind again and decided maybe I just wouldn’t make the cakes anymore but still throw awesome parties for them…because that’s what matters {insert yet another eye roll}.

So, I continued to throw perfectly-planned parties for Lane and then we added Leah to the mix! So, when it came time for her first birthday party it just had to be amazing and I would be sure to post just how amazing it was on social media.  I went all out. I planned it perfectly, right down to the colors of the pumpkins (because of course basic orange pumpkins just wouldn’t work…they HAD to be peach). I even found the perfect rose-gold decorations and if they weren’t rose gold, I painted them to be rose-gold because just plain gold wouldn’t do. I found her the perfect peach dress that would match her peach decorations. It had to be just right…for all the wrong reasons. Here’s a glimpse at Leah’s first birthday. There are so many more details I drove myself crazy about that aren’t even pictured…the perfect peach and pale-blue balloons, the candy bar, the centerpieces, blah blah blah.

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Why,  WHY did I feel the need to throw parties like this? Why did I think all of this mattered when she’s too young to even remember this? Well, lets move on to my “aha” moment…

Anyone who knows me very well knows that after we had Leah, we thought our family was “complete.” I told everyone who asked and even some who didn’t, “No, we’re done…there’s no way we’re having any more kids.” Well my mom (smart lady she is) has always told me…”If you want to hear God laugh…tell him your plans.” …and along came Olivia! Haha. So shortly after Leah’s “perfect” first birthday party, she became a big sister! Now…I’m going to lose the sarcasm and get sappy for a minute.

When I found out I was pregnant with Olivia I immediately had this overwhelming feeling of “this is happening for a reason.” I wasn’t sure what the reason was yet, but I was eager to find out what God had planned for us with the arrival of this special gift. Each of my children have formed me as a mom and have changed me in different ways but Olivia has changed me in a completely different way. She makes me see life differently. Even though she’s another baby added to the mix, she has somehow amazingly made life more simple. She makes me slow down. She makes me realize what is important in life. She is the calm we so desperately needed in our lives. She has a way of keeping me grounded and even though she doesn’t even talk yet, she tells me exactly what I need to “hear.” It was an “Olivia” moment when I realized I’m DONE with the ridiculous over-the-top birthday parties…

It was Leah’s second birthday party this past October. Olivia was 7 months at the time. I was in the middle of getting ready for Leah’s birthday party and even though I had three little kids at home and promised myself I would “keep it simple,” I still found myself doing things that I didn’t need to be wasting time on. The theme was Sesame Street. Instead of just buying the Elmo plates and calling it a day, I found myself yet again doing more than I should. I was standing in the kitchen putting together the sesame street fruit plates (you know…Elmo made of strawberries, Big Bird out of Pineapple, Cookie Monster out of blueberries, Oscar out of broccoli, etc.) and I was fighting back tears. I was stressed to say the least. It was October…the busiest month of the year for photographers. Life and work was getting the best of me and here I was putting together these stupid fruit plates that ultimately would be picked apart by sticky fingers before anyone would even know what they were. As I was standing there trying not to cry, I felt a little squeeze around my leg. I looked down and saw my sweet Olivia looking up at me with the most somber face, like she knew exactly what I was feeling. I picked her up and she gave me the biggest hug that I needed more than she will ever know. Then just when I thought the hug was over, she hugged me tighter. I lost it…the tears came. She changed me yet again. It was at that moment that I sat down with her right there in the kitchen and made her a promise. I promised to stop wasting time on the things that aren’t important, like Elmo fruit plates and ridiculous cakes. I promised her that I would do my best to quit focusing on the unimportant details of the parties and instead focus on the reason for the party…her. I promised her that I would have “boring” parties for her. Life is too short and birthdays are never promised, so I promised her I wouldn’t waste moments on things that don’t matter. I promised her I would cherish the moments before they pass us by. I was sobbing uncontrollably and she sat there so calmly just listening to me and patting my back (another thing she does that I just love). Once again, she was exactly what I needed in my life.

My Olivia just turned one…and I kept my promise to her. I couldn’t wait to keep my promise to her. I threw her the most perfect “boring” birthday party and we only invited immediate family. We even simplified things further this year and combined her party with Lane’s 6th birthday party. It was the best birthday party I’ve planned so far…and it took NO planning! On Lane’s birthday I didn’t have a party to worry about so I just lived in the moment and celebrated HIM. On Olivia’s birthday, I spent the day holding her, kissing her, playing with her, looking at pictures of the day she was born, and cherishing the moments of her one and only first birthday…the last first birthday we will celebrate with one of our children (for real this time…not kidding…hahahaha).

You may be wondering why am I posting and sharing all of this. I don’t normally post personal blog posts…actually this may be the first time! I’m posting this to hopefully reach other moms out there who find themselves in a similar situation. I’m posting this hoping that other moms will realize it’s ok to have “boring” birthday parties; it’s ok to take the pressure off of yourself. I’m also posting this to let you know that no one really cares about your Sesame Street fruit plates, your cow cake, and your rose-gold painted “ONE” sign…kids really only need your time, attention, and maybe even a basketball cake from Walmart. Your kids need a happy non-stressed-out mom. I’m posting this because we aren’t doing our kids any favors by throwing them elaborate birthday parties. We live in a world where we constantly feel the need to do everything bigger and better and it’s exhausting. Our kids need to know it’s ok to have just enough, and not more…it’s ok that the world doesn’t always revolve around them. I’m also posting this to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I had these ridiculous parties and then posted the details on social media because I realize it may have made you feel the need to do it too. I’m sorry if it made you feel like you needed to do more. I’m sorry if your parties for your kids felt inferior because mine were unnecessarily over the top. I also want to say sorry to Lane and Leah. I’m sorry I didn’t come to this realization sooner. I’m sorry I can’t go back to your birthday parties and un-do them and just spend quality time with you and those around you instead. I’m sorry I wasted that time being stressed over things that didn’t matter, but I promise to have more “boring” birthday parties from here on out.

I leave you with a  few photos from Olivia’s perfect “Boring” first Birthday. She’s wearing a hand-me-down outfit from my nieces and a tutu that was Leah’s. No worries…she still had cake that Mamaw made her. Judging by that last photo, I’d say she was perfectly happy with her “boring” birthday party.  Happy Birthday my sweet Olivia…I can’t wait to see what you teach me next!

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  1. Rebecca says:

    I love this – It’s nice to know I’m not the only mom who’s felt overwhelmed. I’ve always had to learn the hard way & I thank you for pointing out a lot of my stress over the years has been my own doing;)


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