Behind the Scenes: The Imperfectly Awesome Birthday

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It’s one of my life’s little ironies … the kid who is constantly moving, cracking jokes, making us laugh and often impersonating some mode of transportation (planes, trains and race cars) is the one who vehemently objects to birthday parties on his big day. I think we might have had a party for him when he turned four. But only because we’d just moved across the country and felt so guilty that he’d be traumatized for life if we didn’t have a celebration. He loves the anticipation of his birthday and of course the acquisition of new “stuff” is a thrill for him. But he wants a quiet celebration with just his family. It used to bother me. I felt like he was getting short-changed. What about the Pinterest-perfect party favors? The adorably decorated cake? Let’s not forget the fifteen friends jacked up on sugar, racing around the room full of inflatables?

I don’t fully understand his reasons, but I finally came to my senses and realized that his preferences are a win-win for all of us. There’s no reason to go all out on a birthday party if the end result is only frustration and disappointment (or worse: weeping on the part of the birthday boy). Why should a joyous occasion be miserable?

So I embraced it. I hung up a few decorations in the theme of his choice, shopped for and wrapped his presents, then we mixed his from-a-box birthday cake. The frosting on the cake won’t win any awards, that’s for sure. I even abandoned the orange strip halfway around the bottom because it was such a disaster. But he loved it. Because we did it together. When I put him to bed at the end of the day and asked if he’d enjoyed his birthday, he said, “Yes plus one hundred.”

I guess that’s how a first grade boy defines ‘awesome’.

And that’s what matters.

I’m linking up with Crystal Stine today and wonderful community of writers sharing their Behind the Scenes posts. In the age of Pinterest-perfect party favors and to-die-for status updates, this is where we keep it real and share the reality behind our social media posts. Join us, won’t you? 


  1. Danielle:

    Hey Heidi, I’m stopping in from Behind the Scenes, and loved the reality behind your photo. Our son was 16 last weekend and to this day, all of our “kids” (8, 16, 20, 22) still prefer my “imperfect” skills to that of any bakery on the east coast. Way to shake the shackles of perfectionism off and keep it real! Many blessings to you!


  2. Sharon @ HikingTowardHome:

    Laughing here… My son this year insisted on not having a birthday cake and everyone around me including his grandma wanted him to have that cake!! We had make your own sundaes instead… so much fun watching the kids mound up the whipped cream!!


  3. ~Karrilee~:

    Ah yes… the freedom (and minor let down) of not having to throw those over the top theme parties! My girlie seemed to enjoy them when she was younger… or at least she let me think so! (It’s all she knew!) But – it didn’t take long for her to lovingly let me down easy and let me know that she was over it!

    Visiting from Crystals today! (and Happy Birthday to your boy!)


  4. Aurie:

    I get this! My girls LOVE to celebrate everything {including parties for their little friends} but my hubby does not. I finally realized that it’s his day, and we should just celebrate the way he wants to celebrate 🙂


    • Heidi:

      Aurie, I love celebrating the small things, too. I’m slowly learning that my idea of celebration isn’t the same for everyone. Thanks for stopping by.


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