Eric Carle {& a new type of to-do list}

a new type of to-do list for this mama

In an effort to bring the craziness that is me and party-planning down a notch, I made a to-do {and not-to-do} list for Adelaide’s 1st Birthday party.

The four categories are:

  1. Necessity {must finish}
  2. Nicety {finish if I have time}
  3. Never mind {not going to happen, unless I change my beliefs on cloning}
  4. No-No {things I am committing NOT to do in the next couple of weeks}

I am great at “planning” birthday parties. I am not so great at “executing them”…without a big dose of {self-imposed} Mom Guilt with some exhaustion on the side and a big glass of discontentment. Planning and throwing a party is a toughie for people like me. I am an Over-Achieving Comparer (I know that isn’t a word. It is called creative license). Are you a member of our club? If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then you may need to send in your membership application:

  1. Have you felt inadequate when you logged into Pinterest, because you knew you couldn’t complete everything you had pinned (and you knew in your heart of hearts that everyone else was finishing all their projects)?
  2. Have you stayed up all night finishing projects, because you couldn’t leave items un-crossed and mocking you (and you knew in your heart of hearts that everyone else was going to bed with completed to-do lists)?
  3. Have you gone to a party and thought, “I am never going to plan anything as beautiful/crafty/perfect as this…I give up.”… (and you knew in your heart of hearts that everyone else was better at planning parties than you)?
  4. Have you declined help, because you feared that people would think you were not able to do it yourself (and you knew in your heart of hearts that everyone else was doing everything without help)?

It is hard to admit I can answer ‘yes’ to all of these {see *Editor’s Note}. My husband once threatened to ban me from ever planning another party. I am being serious. He sees the ugliest sides of me, because he is my husband…seems fair, right? He sees me crying when I realize I cannot finish everything in time. He sees me trying to diy something that really should be bought, but it is not in the budget. He sees me snapping at my son (so hard to admit), because I am tired from staying up all night planning something wonderful for him…just like Jesus did! {insert sarcasm} He sees a stressed-out mess.

*Editor’s Note: I was just recently able to answer NO to #4! This year, I allowed friends to help me with Graham’s birthday party. It was extremely difficult for me to allow other people to help me, but I didn’t want Graham to feel we had forgotten about him. I had already mailed invitations for his little party, when we learned that we would be traveling to St. Louis to see a neurologist…and returning in just enough time to get food ready. I actually shopped at 4:00am to buy the fruits and veggies. We wouldn’t have had any decorations or cute favors, if Heather and Jennifer hadn’t stepped in. I said no so many times, I am surprised they kept asking. But they did. And I finally said yes. Friends are awesome that way. And Graham’s small party was wonderful.

Back to this party. I chose the theme for Adelaide’s party before she was even conceived. Since ‘Lil Graham Ballew Who’ fit our little boy so well, we went with Dr. Seuss for his 1st birthday. Eric Carle was my alternate theme. So, I made a container for Baby Ballew #2’s 1st Birthday. It has been collecting items since October 2010. I originally chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Then, we found out we were having a December baby, so I switched to Polar Bear, Polar Bear. (Some friends ended up doing an adorable Brown Bear, Brown Bear party…Eric Carle is so fun!) Snowflakes, retro Christmas colors, and lots of glitter were chosen to accompany the book. I bought everything 90% off at Target last year. I found plates and napkins at prices so low, people could use 5 of each!

Fast-forward to present day. Somehow, I forgot to make and send the invitations. {palm to forehead} I thought about it several times, but other things kept coming up. I was too busy focusing on Adelaide, her physical therapy, and all the laundry, to remember to shower and brush my teeth her special day was quickly approaching.

I woke up yesterday, realized I had less than two weeks to plan a birthday party, and prayed. A lot. I didn’t pray for extra hands to help, or extra money, or extra energy. I prayed for a plan. Not a plan to accomplish MORE, but a plan to accomplish LESS. You heard me right. This Over-Achieving Comparing Mom wants to do less. Needs to do less.

We made the choice early on in our parenting journey to have a birthday strategy. We knew we wanted several children, so we figured we needed some sort of birthday party schedule. We know several people who use and love it. It works with our single-income family. Big parties for milestone years 1,5,& 10 (we are not even thinking about teenage years) and small family gatherings for the other years. Since this is a milestone year, part of me wants to make Adelaide’s party as incredible as I made Graham’s 1st shindig. (At the time, I was disappointed, but now look back in awe at how I was able to do so much on such a tiny budget.) But, NOT comparing Adelaide’s 1st Birthday to Graham’s 1st Birthday is actually on the list. Speaking of the list, let’s get back to it.

So, here is the list.

  1. Necessity{must finish}
    • Cakes and toppers
    • Banner and some decorations
    • Party favors
    • Food and drinks
  2. Nicety{finish if I have time}
    • Games and Pinata
    • Activity Stations
    • Tags for foods and favors
  3. Never mind{not going to happen, unless I change my beliefs on cloning}
    • Almost everything I already pinned on my Pinterest board
    • Almost everything I will continue to pin on my Pinterest board
  4. No-No{things I am committing NOT to do in the next couple of weeks}
    • I will NOT compare Adelaide’s 1st Birthday to Graham’s 1st Birthday. I have two children now, and one of them requires a lot of extra attention. The other one is an infant. {Hehehe}
    • I will NOT compare Adelaide’s 1st Birthday to other 1st Birthdays. Discontentment looks ugly on everyone. Including me.
    • I will NOT stay up past midnight. Seems obvious, but I often buy into the lie that I can borrow time from tomorrow. I just end up really cranky and less productive.
    • I will NOT allow lies to become truth in my heart. (“You don’t care about your second child as much as you did your first.” “You would do a better job if Adelaide didn’t have disabilities.” Yes, these are the things I actually thought on Monday morning.)
    • I will NOT neglect my Bible Study. See my post about Decorating for Christmas.
    • I will NOT neglect Family. This has happened. Not my finest moment.
    • I will NOT neglect Intimacy. I don’t think this has ever happened, but better safe than sorry.
    • I will NOT neglect Personal Fitness. Zumba and Cardio-Dancing help me de-stress, so this is a win-win. Plus, I am trying (for the first time in my life) to be disciplined in this area. Can’t lose ground now!
    • I will NOT neglect Household Duties. Okay, this one is a stretch…a toddler lives here. And I am always behind in the Housewifery Department. It should say: I will NOT allow my house to reach Hoarders status. 

I am learning to show myself grace as a mom. I am allowing God to do some heart surgery. I am still pretty new to parenting, but I know God doesn’t want me spending the only years I have with my babies as a stressed-out mom {and wife}. I know He doesn’t want me piling on the Mom Guilt because I am so focused on the things I can’t do. I know He doesn’t want me comparing myself to other moms, beating myself up, when I should be enjoying their talents and thanking Him for so many creative friends. I know He wants me to bless my children by creating memories as a family and honoring them on special days…which does not include being a tired wreck.

I will be using this new to-do list for all projects. In my heart of hearts, I know the Over-Achieving Comparing Mom can be transformed…by God’s grace.

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