Birthday Party Dilemma

PICT0124-139Hesperus is turning 11 this summer. She wears the same shoe size as my mother-in-law and she’s getting so tall and grown up.

Last year, when she turned ten, we had a gymnastics-themed birthday party for her. We played pin-the-ponytail-on-the-upside-down-gymnast, had a prize walk (where you dance walk in a circle to loud music and get a prize when you land on the number that’s pulled out of the hat), had a beautiful homemade red and blue (strawberry and blueberry decorated) American flag birthday cake, and even had red and blue streamers with matching gymnastics party plates, a homemade star pinata, and gymnastics batons and bracelets in the hand-painted goodie bags.

It was a fun party but the preparations took more than a week, and we were all exhausted afterwards.

“Mom, it’s special,” my daughter reminded me. “After all, I’ll only turn double digits once in my life.”

Since we did it up so much last year, I was hoping for something a lot more low key this year, like a family party with homemade presents and a trip with one or two friends to the movies…

But that’s not what Hesperus wants.

“No one just has a party anymore,” she told me the other day when we talked about it. “You HAVE to have a sleepover, Mom.”

She wants to invite nine friends, go to the water slides in the afternoon, watch a movie, have a sleepover, get lots of presents, and have the party last until at least eleven o’clock the next day.

I’m so torn. On the one hand I want my daughter’s birthday to be special. I love throwing parties, I like to cook, and the whole concept sounds fun.

On the other hand, our house is full of junk, the kids’ room has no space for more things, we don’t have a car big enough to transport nine children to the water slides, and this year has been really hard for us financially. So hard that I’m not sure we can afford such a lavish party. Plus, with a new baby in the house, I’m not getting a lot of sleep. Hesperus and her friends, who will have to sleep in the living room, will stay up late. I’ll be up with the baby by five a.m. or six a.m. at the latest (if I’m lucky and Baby Leone sleeps that long).

But I suspect the inconvenience and the logistics are not what is really bothering me. Hesperus often acts entitled in a way that I don’t like, that makes me feel taken for granted, and that makes me worry I am raising a child who will become a selfish and inconsiderate adult. When I remind her to do her chores, she invariably says, “I will Mom but right now I’m brushing my hair,” putting herself and her needs before the family’s. I guess it’s the age she’s at but lately she says she wants to do things the way her friends do things, the “normal” way, instead of the way our family does things. This means she wishes she could drive everywhere, eat out at restaurants as often as possible, have a cell phone, and get her ears pierced, among other things. Of course I want my daughter to have a special birthday. But I’m also tired of feeling like what I do is not good enough for her.

Readers, have any of you struggled with this kind of dilemma? Do any of you have advice about how can I make my daughter feel loved and special on her birthday without overextending myself and feeling resentful?

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