Expecto Patronum!

Why do moms have such a propensity for guilt? patronum

Why does this guilt seem to surface most visibly around our children’s birthdays?

I have a secret to share: I suffer from a lesser-known anxiety disorder. It’s called Party Compulsive Dysfunction. I’ve had this affliction going on nine years now. It is a wholly personal affliction that usually sets in 8-12 weeks ahead of either one of my children’s birthdays.

I suffer from PCD because I am under the false pretense that having in-home birthday parties is more low-key and easier than the expensive, elaborate off-site parties so prevalent these days.

(how very wrong this assumption is)

PCD really ramps up the moment either child informs me what their chosen party theme is. Past themes have included: Trains, Tie-Dye, Pirates, Earth Day, Hex Bugs…

Somehow, I have convinced myself that, rather than shelling out $200-$300 dollars to have someone else provide my children with a fun celebration (at a gymnastics studio, game center or craft store), “we’ll” just be creative and have the party at our home. It’s so much more personal and easier to coordinate…right?

Afterall, isn’t this how things were done when we were kids…(back in the ’70’s, before the internet and social media pressures)?!

I have only recently come to terms with the fact that I am, indeed, NOT creative, and herein the stress begins. Imaginative? Yes! Resourceful? YES! but my execution of imagined and researched projects is somewhat underdeveloped.

This year, my daughter’s 9th birthday is a perfect example of how debilitating an infliction PCD can be.

A year ago, Queenie told me she wanted to have Steve Lechner—a local kitchen scientist/magician, whom we have seen perform at  libraries and schools—perform at her birthday. Great! I thought. I’ll hire a magician, make a cake, done deal!

A few months later, she revised the plan: since she was having a magician, and because she’s mildly obsessed with Harry Potter, why not have a Harry Potter-themed birthday party?!

Less great, I thought, this may take some planning…

For the past four or so months, I have been lurking on Pinterest, Google and blogs for ideas. My problem has not been finding ideas, my problem has been the breadth and depth of ideas (and well executed Harry Potter parties that have come before) posted on the internet. It’s a cult!

As I mentioned, I have a good imagination, I’m just not very creative and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really enjoy crafting. All these Harry Potter ideas I’ve come across involve a heavy dose of all three! What to do?

One thing I do take pride in is any project  to do with the written word. For this reason, I have always enjoyed making party invitations and in the past 9 years, that’s amounted to about 15 different invitations.

Here’s a recent one from Bird’s 6th birthday (it was a Hex Bug theme) Hex Bug inviteWe embossed bugs crawling on the front and had a very thematic invite inside. Bird helped me with all aspects of this invite, which made it a fun mother-son activity. Not too tough (except cutting square cards into Hexagons took a certain level of mathematical skill, which I also lack).

But for a Harry Potter party? Obviously the invites had to be like a Hogwarts acceptance letter, penned in green ink and delivered by owl post, right?

Thank goodness for Beanie Boo key chains!

Invite closedNow to master the font and look of a parchment letter from Hogwarts

Invite openAnd I’m not blogging about this because I think I have something to brag about, I’m blogging about it because I think I have something to worry about.

One of my daughter’s best friends annually has a in-home birthday party. She clearly hand makes each of her invitations and delivers them to her friends. The parties involve some minor craft, a traditional party game (like pin-the-horn-on-the-unicorn) and a theme-oriented cake (last year I think it was a rainbow layer cake). My daughter (and all of her friends) always have a fabulous time. Each item from the party is cherished like a ruby. I’m pretty sure this friend’s parents give ample ownership to her in coming up with the birthday plans and ideas.

This child (and her mom) is HIGHLY creative and artistic…my child (and her mother) is not…sigh.

If I stepped back and let Queenie have ownership of her party, it would result in much last minute purchasing of branded merchandise and that’s just not who we are. She’s a great kid with great ideas but sort of weak follow-through.

So why do I suffer from PCD? What I think it really boils down to is this: I love my kids, I love people, and I really love entertaining. Somehow these things all come together for a child’s birthday party because, let’s face it, I don’t know many grown ups that throw fun, themed parties anymore. And really, how much longer will my kids want to have innocent, in-home parties anyway…

(WAIT! maybe if I stopped putting so much effort into them, they’d opt for taking their friends to a craft studio, or bowling alley or to play laser tag instead!)

Surely those days will come. The days when they don’t really want their parents around when they’re with their friends; or the days when they’ll just want to have two or three friends over instead of 6-10. Or when we, as parents, will no longer have such a trained finger on the pulse of who their close friends are and what sorts of things they talk about and like and do.

Next week my daughter turns 9. She’s having 8 of her pals over and I’m we’re going to DO this Harry Potter thing the best way I we can.

We’ve promised the guests (through well-crafted invites) that they will be traveling on the Hogwarts Express, dining at the Three Broomsticks, decorating wands at Ollivander’s and attending Professor Lechner’s Potions Class.

Now if I can just conjure up a Patronus Charm…maybe it can come and help me execute all of this…


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer Burden
    Apr 09, 2015 @ 13:58:01

    I love that you wrote this all out! I can imagine the excitement of the kids upon receiving the owl invitations! One year we made the invitations VIP passes that the kids were to wear around their necks to the party to get in. This past year my littlest didn’t want a big party, so I obliged. But now the planning starts for my older daughter!


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