This part of year is always hardest for me.

I’d like to say I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, mostly because of the wicked acronym, but I don’t. My garden variety, un-cool acronymed depression mixes with the PTSD (pesticides and toxic substances division?) in a nice soupy paste of unhappiness.

Christmas, no matter how I try to play it off, is hard. Sure, I find joy in watching my children scamper about, ripping open presents and squealing in surprise at what lies beneath – that part is tops. New Years Eve almost always finds me near-tears for no fucking reason the whole day, until I wake on January 1, and feel, well, lighter. The elephant sitting squarely upon my chest is gone, as are the fifty pound weights attached to my neck.

I don’t know why this happens to me. But it does – every year.

After the holidays pass, and I am finally able to breathe again, it is time for my daughter’s birthday. My daughter. My daughter who will be three this year, and has not once had the birthday party I’ve wanted to give her. It is my fault – January 1, the anxiety takes over and I’m barely able to leave the house. I become a slave to it – the thoughts it gives me, “you’ve lost all your friends,” “no one will come to her party,” “you’re weak – you should be able to do it.”

Those thoughts beat at me until I relent, deciding upon a “quiet family party,” playing it off like that’s all I’ve actually wanted to do, anyway. I mean, she won’t remember it anyway, so why bother? She’s only (insert young age here).

What they – you – don’t know is that it’s not by choice. It’s never been a choice. If I could choose, it would be her birthday tomorrow, I could skip the month of January, only to wake up on January 28 to a perfectly executed party attended by those whom I love and who love me too (short list as it may be).

I decided, as I always do, that it’s time to get ready for that party – to finally do it. This was during the end of December, that awful week between Christmas and New Years. For a whole week, my resolve, it was strong.

Just yesterday, I realized that I didn’t have the addresses of many of those who I wanted to invite. And shit, it’s already January 3, and her party is in like 4 weeks. That’s not enough time. Maybe I shouldn’t do it. I should just throw her a nice quiet family party or take her for Mouse Pizza in the seventh circle of parental hell. I shouldn’t throw her a party. No one will come, anyway.

And shit – she won’t remember it anyway.

(Amelia’s drawing of a good guy being attacked by bad guys)

I felt that hopelessness, that despair, sink in – I’ve been here before and I’ve always chosen to listen to that asshole voice in my ear – no one WILL come. It’s pointless to throw a toddler a party. I’m weak.

Then I stopped.

Before I could spiral any more, I stopped myself, and went over to evite – y’know, those crappy email invites? Yeah, I never use those. I love stationary, and paper invitations and nice thick envelopes, and handmade cards (it’s the same reason I never send Christmas cards – I get overwhelmed by the beautiful ones I could be making and end up sending none at all) and fuck email invitations.

Within ten minutes, I had an invitation ready to send. Ten minutes after that, I’d sent it to ten people.

I cannot tell you, Pranksters, how proud of myself I am. I looked my demons in their eyes and told them to fuck the fuck off. I will throw my daughter a party and people will come. There will be a house full of people who love her, even if half my friends live scattered around the country.

For that day, I will insist that my demons wear party hats and serve punch. If they don’t like it? They can go back into my closet. Because that day, that day is for my daughter.

She will finally get the celebration I’ve wanted to give her for three long years.

The pink balloons – like my heart – will, at long last, fly.

*If you guys are local, (I’m in a suburb of Chicago), we’d love to have you – and not because she needs presents, but because she needs to meet so many of the people who love her. I mean it. Just send me your email address and I’ll send you the evite…if you promise not to judge me for it.

123 thoughts on “Pathway Through (The) Secret Door

  1. I will be at the PRE PARTY. Acting a fool to celebrate Mimi and make you laugh and remember the light. And even thought I wont be able to make it in person, I bet there are a lot of folks that would love to see the e-vite cuz I bet it DRIPS awesome sauce. As do you. And Mini You.

  2. So proud of you for kicking some ass. The party is going to be great. For both of you. I’d come if I was closer, promise.

  3. Good gawd, we could be clones I think. I have my son’s birthday right before Christmas, and my daughter’s birthday is today. My son is developmentally delayed (un-diagnosed Autism) and I have always skimped out on giving him a proper party. This year he invited kids from his class for the first time, and he turned 9. I have let my daughter take the reins on her birthday, and while that’s liberating for me in a way, it also feels like a copout and makes me feel like a shit parent. Sigh.

    Good for you to face your demons, and e-vites are still invitations. Kick the demons in the taco.

  4. YOU are awesome. The party will be awesome, too. And she is going to have a blast!!

    Wishing I lived closer – but I will see y’all at the hangout. xoxo

  5. I am so very excited to be there and meet Mimi. She’s an inspiration to us all and she deserves the very best party indeed! It’s going to be awesomesauce. And I’ll be there to remind your demons to shut their whore mouth because you should get to enjoy this day too. It’s just as much for you as it is for Mimi.

  6. I love this! Congratulations on taking the first step into a bigger world.

    If my boys were close to Chicago, I’d ask for an invite. My youngest will be 4 in March, and he’s Mr Social Cassanova.

    Just keep telling yourself “You can do it” until you can exhale and say “You did it.”

  7. Just stopping in to say I love you, and good for you for kicking those demons right in the gaily decorated nut…bowls.

    I’ll be there in spirit, and I know the party will rock just like you nand Mimi do. Smooch her for me.

  8. Yay! Way to kick those demons in the nuts! I wish I was closer, but sending big birthday hugs to Mimi, and big hugs to you too. I know the party will be wonderful!

  9. I needed to read this today, I have been SO struggling through December and now January and excusing myself from pretty much everything because of it and I always feel like I’m the only one but this year? Having to try way too hard to even enjoy Christmas, that was it for me. I never make resolutions but this year I’m promising myself to do more to get myself better. So proud of you for planning this party, I know too well what you are fighting to do it.

    1. I love you. I love you because you get it. This year was so much harder than I could ever put into words and frankly, all I can say about it is that I made it through. Surviving isn’t living. I want to do more, too.

  10. I’ll be there in spirit. My birthday is today. I used to hate how close to Christmas it is, but now I love it. BTW, I almost always flake out on sending b-day party invites too. When I lived in Texas I could just print up a flyer, and post it on the bulletin board. I had a few potluck b-days for the kids that way. Now? They get quiet family dinners because I’m afraid nobody will show up. Sucks, since they have friends. I hope.

  11. YaY for you AB! I know what it’s like to confront your inner demons, I do it frequently myself. Although unlike you, I can’t muster up the strength to actually subdue them. I’m so proud of you! I hope you have the world’s most awesome b-day party!

  12. Aunt Becky, I love you and yours. Despite my (unfounded) fear of flying–it’s my first flight and trip to Chicago–I WILL be there! I cannot fucking wait to meet you and party hard–pardon me if I’m a bit starstruck for a moment. <3 like whoa!

      1. And I’m proud of you! Yay all of us!

        Also: I’m going to get liquored up before I get on the plane…not hammered but just good enough. That way I won’t freak-the-fuck-out.

  13. Two things:
    1) I mailed my paper invites 10 days before my son’s party, so 4 weeks is plenty of time
    2) Those 8 invitations (and two facebook messages to his aunts) netted 32 people at his party once all the parents and siblings of the invitees were counted. So 10 invites can mean a gigantor party.

    You’re going to have an awesome time, and even if she doesn’t remember it, you will — and you can take the pictures to prove it 🙂

  14. Long time reader here, I love this post because you are kicking some demon asses. I have the same issue with invitations, I am always afraid people will not come so I don’t send them then just have a nice night at home with the dog. I am in Palatine, so if you want to meet a 25 year old brown-haired nerd (of the female variety) feel free to forward the e-vite over to me and I will put on my party pants and mosey on over with gifts.

    1. Um, why aren’t we hanging out more often! You’re about 45 minutes from me. What’s yer email address? I’ll get you an invite and you can strap on your party pants.

      *claps hands*


      1. Shana (dot) orman (at) gmail (dot) com

        YAY 😀

        My boyfriend is going to look at me sooo funny when I tell him what I’m doing that day, and I will give him a huge grin and say peace out!

  15. Go Aunt Becky! So proud of you for not listening to that asshole voice in your ear. Mimi might not remember the party but she’ll see the pictures and know her mom was awesome and loved her something fierce.

  16. I’m suuuuuper bummed I don’t live closer. I LOVE birthday parties. Especially ones where you get to give munchkins presents because hi, that’s awesomely fun! I hope she has anamaaaazing time and the asshole demons don’t ruin anything! Go you for planning a par-Tay!!!!

      1. This would be a good time to tell you that my 1 year old won’t eat his supper if he knows there is cake. He just wants the cake. What can I say? He’s a smart kid!

  17. I hope this is the turning point for you – and those demons retire to the closet permanently. Although, they probably know where your pants are. You might want to let them hang out for a bit so you can question them.

    Mimi’s party will be awesome – and she will remember it.

  18. I think four weeks is plenty in advance. Zack turns five next week and we are supposed to be having some sort of party on the 15th but I have not sent out invitations yet. Eeekk… we may have to push it back a week. Or two… or… will he really notice? I bet he will now, 5 is a big age you know….

  19. If there was a way, I’d be there. Online hookup for faraway friends? Oh, wait… it would be at three am or something for me… never mind.
    You are so loved, Becky, and so is Amelia. Remember this.

  20. Way to rock the bday party AB! It will be fabulous and I’m sorry I can’t be one of your guests, would love to bring my 4 year old grandson; I’ll be thinking about you and Mimi though. Have a blast! And then post it for us far away pranksters!

  21. Fuck yeah! You’ll rock this party for your daughter – no one else matters!!! I doubt you’ll have issues with people showing up (although I am familiar with your spiral!) If you tell the parents you’ll have alcohol for them, they will come. Oh yes, they will come. Stop the dry-party insanity!

  22. I happen to be going out of town that weekend, but would’ve loved to come and celebrate with you. We live in Chicago & my Sophie is 3 1/2. Maybe a playdate some day? Anyway, congratulations on making it happen, even thru the depression & PTSD. You are rocking! You are gonna kick 2012’s ass, one evite at a time. P.S.- I was a total fail at Christmas cards this year, so I’m gonna try my hand at Valentines. Less pressure, you know? And who doesn’t love unexpected love?

  23. Oh- and I forgot to say- that drawing? If you don’t frame that & place it somewhere you’ll see it every day, I may have to come & kick you in the taco.

  24. Dude, I am SO there w/ya on the S.A.D. crapola. I’ve managed to host all 4 sets of g’parents through the house in the last 2 weeks, get the kids back to school, and actually get billing work done today. I am a demon-kicking number-ninja – hi-YA! SO super duper proud of you for sending evites – they TOTALLY count. And just like how if you wait until you have the $ to have kids, if you wait to make the perfect invites the party will be for her retirement. Just go with it, and ENJOY!! So great to hear you’re doing it!! Will let ya know next time I’m near Chicago fo-shizzle. We will pink balloon it all the way. Happy Birthday Celebrating!!!! 🙂

  25. Fuck to the YEAH! Slap a party hat on those demons and perhaps a little bow tie and then making them serve as doormen and butlers and one can DJ. Fucking awesome. I KNOW Mimi’s party will rock.

  26. I so wish I were closer, so I could come bring some balloons for your little girl, and for you. I am exactly that way (the whole “I will ONLY send the best stationary – good intentions get in the way of actually accomplishing things” type person) about so many things, so I’m so happy that you were able to just get it done. And I know you all will have a kick-ass birthday party!

  27. I would love to come. I’ve been trying to plan a trip to see you for like ever now. It will be a wonderful party

  28. Thanks for sharing… I have to say, the elephant for NYE? I have a herd of them … they slowly leave once January hits, though some years it takes about as long for that to happen as it does for me to take down Christmas decorations.

    Long time lurker, long time Prankster, first time commenter: I’m proud of you. That’s a fuckin’ great thing you’re doing.

  29. New reader…instant fan. I’m in Joliet…don’t wanna freak you out and ask for an evite since you don’t “know” me yet. Found you through Bye Bye Pie…LONG time reader there. Just wanna say I totally relate and am looking forward to kicking my demon’s asses…someday. The Demon colony suck the big one and I am tired of them worming their way into our lives.
    Have a GREAT time at the party…I know you WILL!!!

  30. YOU ROCK! and Mimi’s party will rock!! ( My son’s b-day is New Year’s Day. When he was little i had a zillion reasons for not throwin him a party……But i usually did, and it was always awesome!) i wish oregon wasn’t so far away……i’m countin on seeing pixs here tho.

  31. honey, i would be there with fucking bells on my party hat and serve the shit out of some punch (southern girls aren’t just for batted eyelashes, we are taught how to serve punch) if i was an inch closer. really. and there WILL be a house full of people. but you know what? even if you have mouse pizza…you’re the most fantastic mommy your little girl could ever dream of, and you’re all hers. xo

  32. YAY!!! Congrats, that’s SO fabulous. There’s nothing like doing something you had talked yourself into believing you couldn’t. And if I lived near Chicago I would totally crash your party. Only I actually wouldn’t, because I’d convince myself I wouldn’t fit in and everyone would hate me and I’d slip and fall on the cake and ruin her first ever big birthday party. Still, though, I’d pretend I’d be coming, and you know what they say, it’s the pretending that counts.

  33. Well my birthday is on January 28th (a fabulous day I might add) and I always go to Chicago for my birthday. =)

    She’s going to have a fabulous birthday I know it.

  34. I almost love reading all these responses as I did the original post. So much freaking love is flying out of my monitor right now it’s amazeballs. And January always needs more Amazeball moments. I too find myself completely freaked out every time I think about having a party that no one will come, and I love to read your strength on how you kicked some demon ass (and if they don’t serve punch, you kick them right the hell outta your house, don’t let em back in the closet!). I am local, but have no kids to bring to share in the party – am I still allowed to come and bring…well, really, bring whatever the hell you want me to bring?

    In regards to invites and mass holiday mailings in general, I’ve found that sending a few cards throughout the year for no reason to friends who aren’t expecting it is WAY better than any formalized holiday mass sending. Everyone loves and deserves a “Hey, you kick ass” card on a Tuesday. Just my way to help kick my own “you’re a sucky holiday communicator/friend” demon right the hell back to another zip code. Which of course means that if anyone here wants a random card and we can figure out how to get me your address I will absolutely send you something! You Pranksters deserve it!

  35. Now you know I would be there in person if I could. Of course, you really wouldn’t want me there, as no one else would be able to get close to Mimi because of all the cheek smooching she’d be getting from me. Unless you switch her out with Alex or Ben at some point, then maybe the other party guests could see her. I will *settle* for virtual smooches via the hangout, though! Her party is going to rock. I can just feel it.

  36. im in awe of this courage you’ve found (if only to invite the internets to your house.) and your little girl. she needs buckets of presents, I will bring at least one. I live in aurora so if you need help making unicorn cakes or kitten favors let me know.

  37. I’m going to tell you a secret I wish I had learned before mine hit 16. My friend had a 5 year old an a one year old and her birthday parties are the ones everyone always come away with having enjoyed the most. Her whole prep is general cleaning, and buying colour appropriate balloons and paper plates. The menu is hot dogs (both beef and mystery meat) , cake and ice cream. It’s 4 hours tops and everyone is e-mailed/facebooked the time and date. That’s it. (well, okay, she bribes her friends into coming the night before to blow up the balloons.)
    I did the every year the bigger and better parties, and the only one who noticed were me and the bitch of a PTA queen that somehow felt we were in competition because the boys of the class went to her sons party on the same weekend as my girl’s. Yes, have a nice cake, yes decorate, sure even have nice invites if you want but remember the best party at any age is the people who care enough to come and have fun. The only expectations anyone has to meet are their own, and you’re allowed to cut yourself a break.

  38. You’re really brave and kicked that depression in the ass. I admire that! We don’t live in the Chicago area, but you can send me the evite anyway. I just want to see your handiwork, I admit it.

    Keep your spirits up, girl!

  39. I love that you got the invites out. I myself have invited people to my kids’ parties via REGULAR email when the goings are rough for me. We do what we have to do as Moms and if it makes our kids happy, it’s good enough. You ARE a rockin’ Mommy, don’t ever forget that.
    Wish I was local so I could meet you and your kids, Aunt Becky. I’m sure my ADHD, son- without-aspergers-but-who-has-“asperger quirks” -and-my Selective Mutism daughter who talks most comfortably to other kids would have a grand time playing with your kids.

  40. P.S. My kids have summer birthdays and sometimes it’s hit or miss with school friends and even family friends’ schedules. Kids are elated when they have 3 friends or 30 friends to play with! As long as there is someone to play with, cake and some presents, and BALLOONS, don’t forget the BALLOONS, she will be ecstatic!

  41. Good on ya for kickin the demon arse!
    Evites totally count!

    Next time I’m in Chi-town, I will certainly let you know!!!
    (I’ve only been once in 2008, want to revisit for sure!)

  42. So proud of you, AB! In November I fought off my demons and planned a purse/jean party for this weekend. I never have these kinds of parties, because typically nobody would come and it would require cleaning my house and being social, and I usually end up depressed because nobody came. But I live in a new place and have new friends and so I planned it. And people are actually coming! I will not sabotage myself by worrying that my house isn’t nice enough and the food isn’t good enough. I will do what I can do and enjoy margaritas and Mexican food while we all look at purses, try on jeans, and gossip! And this giant step forward for me is due in part to you and The Bloggess – your posts inspire me everyday. So thank you – and if I were not on the west coast, I would so be at your daughter’s party!

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