April, May and June are crazy months around our house.
There are 4 family members with birthdays, our wedding anniversary, Mother's Day, Father's Day and soon there will be another family member with a birthday in June.
It can be a bit overwhelming.
The boys' birthdays are a few weeks apart.
For the first few years we had separate birthday parties for them and I thought nothing of it.
That was what I was supposed to do.
It was their day to be special. It was all about them.
It's the one day of the year that they don't have to share, right?
But then, there was that year that we were living at my parent's house during both of their birthdays.
Aaron was here, working away getting the house ready, and by the time we moved in, it was past both of their actual birthdays.
I decided that this year they were going to have to share a birthday party.
I felt like the worst mom ever.
It really seemed like a terrible thing to do to them.
Especially since it was really about what was more convenient for me.
They didn't mind a bit.
They have the same friends.
They like the same things.
And they share everything else in their life.
This is no big deal.
We've been doing it ever since.
This was the 3rd year they've shared a birthday party.
They don't seem too scarred.
I am pretty sure they will not go to therapy for this later in life.
I could be wrong. But I'm hoping.
The thing I've realized is that I would much rather emphasize sharing on this day than not.
I want them to know they are special, of course.
But I also want them to understand some important life truths that are a lot more important than expecting to be king for a day.
1. Parties cost money.
Daddy works really hard to support our family. If we can save money by sharing a party, then we are showing Daddy we respect how hard he works for us. And we are being good stewards with our money. When I was little, I got to choose between a party or presents. We couldn't afford both. That's real life. They need to know that. I told them. And they got it.
2. Parties are a lot of work.
Rather than expecting the world to revolve around them, even on their special day, they need to realize the amount of effort that is being put into a party that is just for them. I don't think they should be kept in the dark about this. Rather, we all get ready for the party together. They help clean up the house and the back yard. They help blow up balloons and make the goodie bags. We're a family; we help each other.
Doing it twice is twice as much work. It's OK to do it once and share the load.
3. We live life together
This one is really important to me. Our kids have always shared a room. By necessity. But I am glad. I think it helps them adapt to the real world--a world that doesn't revolve around them.
And they share toys. The boys know who got which Lego set for Christmas, but they play with them all equally. They have always shared toys, books and everything else, and that is just the way we do it. Lilly gets a little wiggle room on this because they are not interested in her ballet tutus. But there are toys of hers that they play with, and they all take turns on the swing (she, of course has the hardest time with that) and they even have to share the bathroom.
It is just the way we do life around here.
This does not mean that they can just take a toy out of each other's hands all in the name of sharing. However, we also don't say, "he can't ever play with that--it's mine." It might be later instead of right now, but they end up sharing stuff because it's kind. And kindness is big around here.
I know as they grow older, they will want privacy and more of a sense of personal property. I will try to be as sensitive to that as I can. But I also hope that living this way will give them a solid foundation of selflessness rather than selfishness.
Let's face it, our kids live in a world where they have far more than they need. It is tempting to give them everything they want, but it is not what is best for them. What is best for them is to learn that they are not the center of the universe. They are a part of it.
I'll be honest, when they started talking about their birthday party, they initially asked for separate parties. Even though I knew sharing a party was the best thing for them, I still worried they'd be hurt or upset. But when I explained why they would have one together they understood.
They did not argue or complain.
I am grateful for that.
And in the end, this party was another success and lots of fun.
I know someday things will change.
But for right now, this works for us.
Maybe you disagree with me and think I am screwing up my kids for life. I'd like to know your take on it. Or maybe you have other ways of teaching your kids these same life lessons. I'd love to hear those too.
And, you should know, on each child's actual birthday, they get a cake and a couple of presents from Mommy and Daddy. I make them a garland (cause I can't celebrate anything without a garland) and they usually get to pick a favorite meal. It is a special day.
So see, we're not totally depriving them.
If you're interested, you can see all the party details over on my other blog.
I do love to throw a party!
PS. I am happy to share that I am guest posting on Faith Blogs today. I'd love it if you show some support and go take a look. Thanks!