Their first birthday: for them or for their parents?

I may be a cynic, maybe I’m just a realist. I don’t know. However, about eleven months ago, we had our first child. It was an incredible experience, my world was turned upside down. The last eleven months have been like nothing I have experienced before, it has exceeded all expectations. To be honest, I still sometimes have a hard time believing that I’m a father.

My wife enjoys motherhood as much as I enjoy being a father. She has joined two moms’ groups, one that meets every Monday and the other on Wednesdays. It’s really great to see her make new friends this way and to hear about my daughter’s exploits, as she is already starting to learn social skills, blending in with the other little kids. Sometimes I wish I was there to see it all.

We are coming up to my daughter’s first birthday now. However, with the two groups of moms, we have already been in two of them, for other children. Ours is next, as a result of which my Calendar is a mess. I have three months worth of first birthday invitations; There isn’t a weekend for us until after Christmas. I get that people like to celebrate this milestone, but does a first birthday really need to be so momentous?

Talking to my wife, we need to invite forty or fifty people to ours. Most of these are out of obligation, as we will be invited to theirs. Many are not people I know, most are not people I would socialize with outside of the birthday party circuit. It’s going to cost me over $500. If you include all the other first birthday parties marked on our calendar, it will actually cost me over $1,000 and four months of my life.

The first two parties we attended were also interesting, with games like passing the package, musical chairs and the like. Babies just didn’t understand. They were parents holding their young children filling in the gaps. Some of the moms certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. The babies were largely unconscious, not understanding anything. I was puzzled, wondering why we weren’t inside watching the game. I just don’t understand why these birthday parties have to be so regimented and childish, when babies are so young and don’t understand.

So what’s a man to do with his daughter’s first birthday? I think I know. I’m going to fill a bin with beer and wine and have a barbecue. Parents can mingle outside, while babies crawl under our feet, having fun on a picnic mat. There will be no games that babies do not understand or schedules that adults must follow. It will just be a chance for adults to come together and congratulate each other on making it through their first year of parenthood. After all, that’s what a first birthday is all about, right?

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