When I asked my mum to recount how my very first birthday party went down, she replied with this:
“It was an afternoon tea at home with your grandparents and a few aunties and uncles. I think. I don’t really remember. We might have a photo of you in a chair. I’m pretty sure I got your cake from the supermarket. I don’t really know. It wasn’t a big deal.”
I asked her this question, of course, because over two decades on I do not have the faintest clue what happened on my first birthday. You know, because I was one.
First birthdays are out of control, dear reader friends. They are out of bloomin’ control.
My mum’s description is a bit of a teeny tiny contrast between the first birthday parties that are all over Instagram right now. You know the ones, where chubby babies are treated to three-tier gold-encrusted cakes, personalised “photo walls”, mountains of crisply wrapped presents, face painting, and professional catering – all while possessing the memory of a common goldfish.
For instance, take the Australian celebrity who, this year, enlisted the help of event planners, professionals photographers, and ‘live illustrators’ (don’t worry, I don’t know what they are either) to make her child’s first birthday come to life.
I’m stoked that very small humans can observe such luxuries in between nappy changes. I just don’t, quite, um… understand why this is a thing.
*Braces for angry sleep-deprived mums to hurl smashed cake at their screens*
No, seriously. I don’t say that to be mean, or stomp all over your pretty cupcakes. I just want to know – am I missing something? Do I need to have a child to realise that throwing a first birthday party the size of a wedding is absolutely necessary? Am I soulless? Is this why automatic doors don’t open for me anymore?
I love a good party as much as the next person. I also love one-year-olds and their cute little feet.
But why people - why - have we created a culture of celebration excess before our children can construct a sentence?
THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW THE FREAKING PARTY IS FOR THEM YET.
Of course, some might say the first birthday trend isn't to give the baby a grand celebration, but it's for the baby's parents... you know, the ones over by the hand-crafted flower wall looking like they haven't slept in a week.
And if that was the case, fantastic! I'm all for giving mum and dad a big bash to acknowledge (most of) the sleepless nights are well behind them.
But those photo walls don't come cheap. Neither do Italian-imported babyccino machines or Tiffany-themed ball pits. And I think we all know mum and dad would prefer a big ol' bottle of espresso martini rather than fruit juice.
So this isn't just a case of "we love parties!" No, no. This is starting to look an awful lot like competition. Like the mum with the biggest metallic-themed balloons and most realistic chocolate replica of the Trevi fountain is the best mum.
It's the new version of the bikini body. But with, you know, glittery streamers and slightly less abs.
The pressure to throw your baby a big and expensive birthday party is intense. It's also slightly ridiculous.
Let's face facts: the baby isn't going to remember if you served up something baked by Jamie Oliver, or a $4 chocolate mud cake from Woolies. Plastic plates and party pies sourced from the frozen aisle will suffice.
And hey, if we call an end to this illogical trend right now, mum and dad might even be able to put the money towards a weekend away together; and instead of going to these ludicrously over-the-top parties, we can all pitch in and babysit.
Now THAT is a real celebration for your kid turning one.