The Etiquette Bitch says: RSVP, parents!
What if no one comes? What if they say they will come and don't? What if everyone hates each other? What if it rains so no one comes? What if it's sunny so no one comes? What if the party is crashed by a group of drunken hooligans? What if the drunken hooligan is Nate? And he's on on a long rant against religion? And he's right? And I'm forced to defend him?
Really, it's a problem possibly requiring medication.
A couple years ago, deeply in the horrific money-scrounging phase of our lives, we scrounged all our money to throw Sage a birthday party--more for the adults. Nate's birthday sangria is legendarily worth a trip to Brooklyn. The morning of the event, half the people bailed on us. Yes, every excuse was perfect and relevant and acceptable and la la la la la. One kid wasn't feeling well. One mom forgot. One mom was tired. I ran out of gracious ways to say "Don't worry about it"
I get it. I'm a mom too. Sometimes you are, simply, tired.
That said, I am forever traumatized by the experience. Do you know what a pasta salad for 40 looks like after a party of 15 people?
A pasta salad for 40.
Yesterday, we threw our first real birthday party for Sage. In fact, it was our first real birthday party for either kid; the kind with entertainment and organization and cake and balloons. And as we parents know, all good things end with balloons.
I had a fabulous time, and left with nothing but happy feelings. But this morning, I felt a little squidgy as I realized several of the parents who RSVP'd yes were no-shows. No-calls and no-emails either.
I am not without sin in this department and so the Etiquette Bitch in me hesitates to throw this ugly, jagged stone. I have said yes to PR events that totally slipped my mind or were pushed out of the way for some other unfortunately pressing obligation. In times of major stress and overcommitment, I have ignored a flurry of invites in my inbox, some of which I probably should have made time to respond to. And yes, I once sent Nate to a friend's wedding alone at the last minute, because I was 2 weeks postpartum, fat, depressed, leaking from my size 86 DDDDD boobs, and would have been probably kicked out for showing up in sweatpants anyway.
So let me say for the record: I suck at times.
But a kid's birthday party seems different.
It's not just letting down a host (who may have already paid for your kid, ahem), but about letting down a little girl who doesn't understand why her friends didn't come.
Fortunately, Sage is resilient and awesome. It's her mother that could use a few more of those attributes.
My mom and I talk about this often. We've debated as to whether this is a New York thing, or a Generation X/Y thing, or a technology thing. Are people less considerate than they used to be? Are we just too busy? Have we lost our sense of empathy and courtesy? Or do invitations and requests flood us with such great frequency in this digital age that they've really lost all meaning?
I'm not sure what it is. But I know it makes me want to do better. I want to be the kind of person who says yes and means yes. Or the person who sometimes says yes but, or who simply says no--because that's okay too.
Is it too late to make a New Year's Resolution in mid-May?