Dear Fellow Parent,
Thank you so much for inviting my child to your child’s birthday party. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to attend. In fact, if my kid hasn’t regularly mentioned your kid, we’re definitely not coming.
Please do not take this rejection as a commentary on you or your child. It’s not even about my child. It’s really about me. I don’t want to go.
You see, I’m an introvert, and the sheer thought of having to participate in small talk with other adults – who likely have nothing in common with me other than children of the same age, all while said children run around us screaming – causes my chest to tighten with anxiety.
At the last birthday party, I took my kids to, not one adult talked to me beyond the initial introduction. As someone who is terrible at small talk, you’d think I’d be okay with this, but it was mortifying. Because I lack the social skills to initiate small talk, I find myself worried that others will assume I am a snob, so I over-compensate by making eye contact and smiling, hoping some extroverted parent will take pity on me and initiate small talk just so that I don’t have to sit alone and give off the impression of being unapproachable and unfriendly. But nobody rescued me this time, and it didn’t help that the party was outdoors, so I was eaten alive by bugs while sitting in my isolation. All the posturing is, quite frankly, exhausting.
And it’s not just my social anxiety that makes me not want to attend these parties. My weekends are always already packed full of errands, laundry, chores, lesson planning, and efforts to squeeze in quality family time. A birthday party means several lost hours – hours I can’t spend doing any of these other things that still have to get done. Plus, there is the additional stress to find time to shop for a gift before the party. It’s an awful lot of work just to commit to a few hours of personal misery. And let’s be honest, after all that fun and sugar, my kid becomes the monster under the bed in the evening, so the misery extends well beyond the party.
If my child has an established friendship with your kid or if she regularly talks about your kid, I will make every effort to get her to your child’s party. I will suffer the tremendous discomfort these parties cause me for the sake of my daughter’s friendships and opportunities for socialization because I know it matters to her and her friends. But with two girls at the age where birthday party invitations are typically sent out to every kid in the class, we simply can’t attend 40+ parties a year anyway, so more than likely, your kid’s party will be among many we choose not to attend.
I do apologize that we cannot attend, and I hope I haven’t caused your child too much disappointment; however, my social anxiety, the loss of time, and the collective cost of birthday presents are all too much for me to handle this weekend. I’d say, “maybe next time,” but let’s be honest, that would just be a polite little lie.
And as a final note, please don’t be offended when your child doesn’t get an invitation to my child’s birthday party. Nobody did. I talked her into picking something fun to do with the family because I don’t want a bunch of strangers at my house, and location parties come with hefty price tags and stressors I have no interest in dealing with.
So, thanks, but no thanks. We hope your kid has a fantastic time. We just won’t be there.
A mom with boundaries