I’d like to think that Jack and Max will have a childhood reputation as the boys that throw great parties. And I hope that they’ll carry this into their adult life. It’s a skillset I put a lot of emphasis on because it’s a form of socializing centred around fun and doesn’t require a lot of money. We throw potluck parties where everyone brings a dish of food, we make the decorations ourselves. We host at home, we clean as we go. It’s old hat for us, it’s easy, we have fun and we love doing it.
Officially, my position for our parties is ‘the more guests, the merrier.’ We live in a house that really needs to fill up because people settle on different floors. If the invite list isn’t at least 50 confirmed, the party will feel quiet. [Years ago, before the boys, Mr. Stone and I used to throw fabulous parties and twenty people filled our little starter house perfectly. So it's not about the numbers, it's about how many people fit the space. ]
And it’s really no trouble to round 50 people up these days. Jack has school chums, neighbourhood friends, swimming class/Jewish clubs/established baby and nursery buddies, etc. etc. We know lots of people.
This Halloween people have been fishing for invites. It’s the first time people beyond the guest list are elbowing, and it feels odd. We had a neighbour and her two kids loitering outside our home this afternoon admiring the Autumn display. Jack opened the door and chatted with them, and I went to check on him. This mum I know by site, I even know where she lives in the next road. But I don’t know her. I don’t know her children’s names…and they are 2/3 years older than Jack. So she’s all chatty today, and I’m friendly back…and then out of no where she starts asking me if we have anything planned for Halloween this year? Eyebrows up? We always seem to be doing interesting things for the kids at our house…more eyebrows up? My brain was ticking over. Do I invite them? Do I invite people I don’t know the names of because they live in the neighbourhood and want to come? Hmmm.
I did not. I was friendly but brisk and let them walk away. But it played on my mind all afternoon. Was I wrong to draw the line?
I felt strong, oddly strong, because I drew the line on a woman and her family that we know well. I thought the lack of invite would honestly go unnoticed, or at least unspoken. But no, a friend who firmly sits in the middle called me on it. Unfortunately, it was intentional and I had to tell her so.
I have little respect for the woman uninvited and her son with anger-issues does not play with Jack. I need to put some distance there. I’m sorry we have mutual friends in common, but that’s life. It was an awkward chat though. But I stood firm. Her values conflict with mine. Full stop. Besides, she never, ever arrived at a party on time when she was invited and saw no problem delaying others or guilting them into leaving my parties early. So for all of those justified reasons, she’s off the list.
But for some reason, the neighbour guilt brought up this guilt. I did write off said woman without explanation. On one hand, she does know that she let me down and disappointed me on a personal level. We have history. And the way she treats her family is disgraceful. But you can’t tell someone they are a disappointing mother to their face, can you? I prefer to just put some distance between us.
My head knows I made the right decision x2 for these invites. But my heart feels bad to write off someone because they disappoint me, or to exclude someone who clearly lives in my neighbourhood and has kids wishing they could be part of our celebrations. Why can’t I stop feeling guilty?
I just need to remind myself these parties are for my boys, for my family. We are not a charity. We are a family with our own circle of love. And that’s where the party invitation line needs to be drawn.