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To My Third Son on His First Birthday: I’m Sorry

To My Third Son on His First Birthday: I’m Sorry” by Gemma Hartley originally appeared on Ravishly, a pop culture + feminist news website, and was reprinted with permission.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

My first child’s milestones were elaborately marked, photographed, and celebrated with much fanfare.

So it made sense that on his first birthday, we pulled out all the stops. From a perfectly styled party to a carefully chosen birthday outfit to a breathtaking smash cake, I left no stone unturned in my quest for the ultimate first birthday bash.

My third child however? Not so much.

His first birthday was a much quieter affair — if it could be called an affair at all.

Stacking his birthday up to his older brother’s, I feel like I owe the poor babe an apology.

Here is the evidence to show that the third kid struggle is real …

The Party

First child:

Invite everyone we know and people we only kind-of-sort-of know but who also have kids, because kids are key to a successful first birthday atmosphere.

Now, on to the theme. Whittle down the options to 10 Pinterest party boards.

How about a rainbow theme? I can make this rainbow Pinterest cake that takes up an entire dining room table.

Or a carnival theme? Oh hells yes I will buy that overpriced ferris wheel cupcake holder, thank you very much. I’ll scoop artisan kettle corn into individual old-timey popcorn boxes, set up carnival games for the kids we don’t know, and we’ll get fake tickets for the games so it feels authentic.

Perfection.

Third child:

Immediate family can come eat burgers at our house because our last kid is turning 1.

I’m not going to mow the lawn, sweep the backyard, or put away the toys, or even vacuum and tidy inside the house, for that matter. I’m just going to put this big bottle of wine and some pre-made Costco snacks on the table and call it a day.

We good?

The party favors

First child:

Individually wrapped homemade cookies with stickers featuring a photo of the birthday child holding a sign that says “thank you.”

Third child:

My favor to you was providing booze and grilled meats.

The cake

First child:

A meticulously decorated, homemade, allergen-free chocolate cake with a glittering number one candle and sprinkles all around.

Third child:

Who wants a birthday Jiffy muffin with a leftover Menorah candle in the middle?

The present

First child:

Spend hours picking out the perfect gift. Go back and forth between the natural wood alligator walker he will use for maybe a month before he’s walking and the equally pricey and useless wooden activity cube.

Choose the less sensible option, because they only turn one once!

Carefully wrap in themed paper, adorn with ribbon bow, and write out heartfelt card to accompany gift.

Third child:

Buy small noise-making car at Walmart while picking up burger buns.

Cut out of cardboard box and hand to birthday child.

One-year-olds can’t unwrap things or read cards.

The photographs

First child:

Pay an obscene amount of money to have a professional photographer take pictures of the birthday child smashing a beautiful cake in a well-lit studio.

Third child:

Take photo of muffin-smash with iPhone.

Post on Instagram. #uno

The outfit

First child:

Which one?

There was the adorable fancy outfit for cake smash photos.

The birthday-themed onesie and matching bib for the at-home party.

The super cute new clothes and “12-month” sticker for the day of his actual birthday.

Third child:

Nothing says “birthday” like your birthday suit, amirite?

End of the party

First child:

Cry after they’re in bed.

Wonder how it went by so fast.

Third child:

Cry after they’re in bed.

Wonder how it went by so fast.

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