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I Lie to My Son about When His Birthday Is!

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Momlogic's Jayne: In a meeting today, I finally admitted THE most shameful thing I have ever done as a mother -- I lied to my son about when his 4th birthday was so I wouldn't have to throw him a party. There, I said it! Let the judgment begin!

birthday boy

Some of you might wonder how it's even possible to lie to a child about his or her birthday, because all year long GOOD parents are celebrating their child's arrival on earth with parties that my son is invited to. Well, it is ... and I did!

In February, my son started asking when his May birthday was, and like a good mommy I told him, "It's coming up honey, don't worry." Then when May arrived and he continued to ask, I started to say that his birthday had already passed and that he had to wait a while for it to come around. (Please make note: I did tell him though that since his b-day was far off we we could have a fun week with a present every day to tide him over -- and we did.) So this year, there was no birthday cake, no singing "happy birthday," just an uneventful turning from 3 to 4. Looking back, I can not believe that I did that and I really feel guilty.

In addition to being horrified that I did this, I am sure some of you are mad and think that I take advantage of other parents' generosity by taking my kid to other kids' birthday parties without ever reciprocating. Well, don't be mad, I occasionally (don't get your panties in a bunch, ONLY occasionally) lie to my son and don't tell him that he's been invited to a party, so we don't have to go.

You must be wondering to yourself, "What the hell is wrong with this woman? I have never heard of anything so mean, selfish, and cruel!" To tell you the truth, I have no idea what the problem is, all I know is that the thought of throwing a party (and occasionally attending them) gives me anxiety that I can't really describe. I sometimes think that maybe I could drink a lot to get through the party -- but come on, even I know that kids and the mother of the birthday boy staggering around drunk don't mix!

Those who see me at work probably think that I come off as relatively social and confident. I have a big mouth, I'm pretty loud and I'm not afraid to speak my mind -- as ridiculous as it is at times. But when I leave the office and close the door of my car, I can finally be my real self, someone who is VERY shy and does not feel completely comfortable talking to other people that much (a few very close friends excluded -- but even then it's a struggle to chat on the phone or meet up often).

On weekends, I like to spend time with my husband and son and very rarely do I do things with other people. It's so bad that my husband regularly (and sometimes angrily) accuses me of being a "recluse" and a "hermit."

Because of all this, you can imagine that the idea of throwing a party and inviting 15 kids and THEIR PARENTS (who I would have to talk to) to my home completely freaks me out. So much so that I would rather lie to my beloved son and deprive him of his natural birthright.

I still don't think that I've answered the question of why I actually did this. Well, other than not wanting to talk to people who I don't know (the kids' parents) I have a HUGE fear of people not showing up and the party being a failure. I could actually start crying right now just imagining my son's face on his big day surrounded by balloons and a bouncy castle and no one showing up. What is wrong with me? It's so sad .... and I am ashamed.

I feel so bad about this that I actually turned to momlogic expert Shannon Fox to see what she had to say, and if she had any advice from me. Click here for what Shannon Fox had to say.

44 comments so far | Post a comment now
Chrissylou October 28, 2008, 10:39 AM

Have everyone lost sight of the fact that we are talking about a 3yr old turning 4! This boy is not going to be traumatized by the fact that he did not get a party. He will not even remember it. Mom, get a grip. It appears by your blog that you are not shy and that you do like to talk.
I think that your anxiety probably has more to do with the fact that you feel you have to compete with types of birthday parties that are now being thrown for our little princesses and princes. You do not have to rent a blow up castle, you do not have to have endless games and take home gifts. And you certainly do not have to worry about no one showing up, kids love playing together. I agree with the person who recommended McDonald’s. People know what to expect when they are invited to McDonald’s, chicken nuggets, fries, cake and a play place. It couldn’t be much easier than that, you don’t have to clean before or after and at age 4 most parents like to stay so watching the little gem’s gets easier. What a non threatening way to get to know other mom’s.
My kid’s didn’t get parties until they were in kindergarten. we just had a special family dinner (of their choice) cake and presents, they were all happy. Two of my 4 children have May/June birthdays, I ask them to have their parties when school is out, then we don’t have to invite everyone and feelings don’t get hurt. 15 kids to a party would be hard on any mom.
And for future advice, my 21 year old daughter never mentions the years that she did not have a big party, she talks more about the birthday meals we made, now that is special! So take a deep breath and make it easy on yourself, it’s more fun for everyone that way.

DEbbie October 28, 2008, 11:02 AM

Hi, I also have social anxiety disorder. As a single mom who’s kids are now teens, I had tried at-home parties and parties such as McDonalds. Then someone takes care of the work for you and it lasts only one hr. It’s not that bad. But don’t worry about being judged from other people, the only opinion that should matter is your son’s. You can do whatever you and him decide together. Just family and cake is fine too. That’s what I grew up having. Nowadays parents go way overboard and it only gets harder to please the kids that way!!! Good luck to you. Hope you got some godd ideas from here. Now my kids are 15 and 17 and they cant have everything other kids have and they learn to accept it.

Momof5! October 28, 2008, 11:16 AM

Take care of yourself. No one said parenting was easy. And who said you have to have big parties with friends? For our children’s 1st and 2nd birthdays we have parties with the family. They still receive a ton of gifts and lots and lots of love. Minus the issues children bring. Less mess, no expectations and less stress on yourself and the child. And from time to time we have family parties with just family for our older children (if their b’days fall close to a family trip, illness in the house, just plain exhausted, etc.). The children love it because they receive so much love from everyone and the grown-ups in my family take advantage of the opportunity to be a Big Kid! My husband came up with the idea for my brother to dress-up as Iron Man (in a customer too little - he’s 6’ 5”) and his wife was Cat Woman (my son is in love with Cat Woman) and my other brother was Banana Man (we needed a bad guy and didn’t want to alarm the kids). Banana Man pretended to steal the cake while the kids were playing and Iron Man caught him. Cat Woman took pictures with our son (he’s 4 and very shy and really believed it was Cat Woman!) They had a ball. Our older children knew who played the super heroes and the b’day boy was on cloud 9! Don’t limit yourself! No harm, no foul!

On the other hand. You sound like you’re miserable. Guilt can really eat you up. You don’t sound like a bad parent or person. A bad person wouldn’t feel guilty. You sound like a loving person with an “issue” like EVERYONE else. You’re hiding from your fears so you don’t have to deal with them. And don’t worry about what everyone is going to say or think, as long as you are doing the best YOU can do. I don’t think people intend to be intolerant and seemingly insensitive to other people’s feelings. A lot of people tell me I’m doing a great job with our children and they have no idea how many times in a day I question my own judgement and feel like a failure. We want the best for our children and this is a preconceived notion of what the “BEST” is. Help yourself to be healthy and another way to deal with your son’s birthday that doesn’t make you feel guilty. He probably wants his 5 minutes of fame (and love). That can be addressed in MANY, MANY ways!

God Bless you and drop the labels.

Jas October 28, 2008, 12:24 PM

I wonder how many children of the parents who said, “Stop lying” believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny.
Just because he is a child doesn’t mean he has to have a party. You’re not punishing him because you didn’t throw him a party. Next May get a cake, sing a song, and let him turn 5 with as much fanfare as you can handle.
As for other kid’s parties, let your husband take him.

lane October 28, 2008, 12:52 PM

Ma’am you need help, and you need it quickly. Your child is going to resent you for this. My 8 yr old has had a party every year and my 2 yr old the same. My 8 yr olds last party there was close to 30 kids there. You only get these memories once, why on earth would you want to mess it up, by not doing anyhing for your son. How does your husband feel about it. how does the grandparents feel. When he is grown and has his own kids, how are you going to feel if you do not get asked to your grandchildrens birthdays because you can’t handle 1 hour with others celebrating your grandson/granddaughters day. I gaurantee if you don’t get help you will be in for a lifelong of hurt that just trickles down the generations.

Missy October 28, 2008, 1:30 PM

My son turns 5 next month. Until this year, we have only had birthday parties with family. This year, all the rest of the kids are having birthday parties, so I am trowing one for him. I am having it a Chucky Cheese. Minimal work and if no one shows up, he still gets to play games - NOT A BIG DEAL! It’s better than not trying at all. I honesty don’t like to talk to other people either - I hardly ever go anywhere. When I have to talk to other people, I get nervous also - really nervous. I would never take it out on my son, though.

I understand it was hard for you to admit it and you feel guilty. I am not going to praise you for doing so, though because it was an awful thing to do. I don’t care if you made it up to him the next year. Birthdays are a thing to be cherished. They are a celebration of the event that brought you (what should be) the best thing in your life.

Tina October 28, 2008, 2:49 PM

Some posters on here need to get a grip. The child is 4. He is hardly going to remember or care. If the worst thing that has happened in this child’s life is he didn’t have a big 4th birthday bash … I think he will be alright. In terms of the mama, take care of yourself. Stop castigating yourself and deal with the issues. Your son is not blaming you and he won’t unless you make it an issue. In reality, you can just say “Nope, we don’t do birthdays around here”, because actually there are a lot of children in the world who don’t celebrate their birthdays or holidays and they grow up just fine. Every family is different. As some people suggested maybe you should limit your celebration to just family or just you and your husband or just have a serious of special breakfast meals the week of his birthday as you did. It sounds like you thought about how to acknowledge the moment and how special he is without freaking yourself out. Your son will be happy if you are happy and comfortable … at least until he is a teenager and then all bets are off!

Sandy October 28, 2008, 3:08 PM

Who said every birthday had to have a huge party? What’s wrong with a few relatives or maybe his best friend coming over for cake? Stop filling guilty about the party but…I really don’t condone lying to him for such a silly reason.

Chrissylou October 28, 2008, 3:36 PM

I think that you have it wrong, don’t make her feel more guilty than she already does, her son will NOT grow up and resent her for not having a 4th birthday party, The lying about it will not even be remembered! And 30 people at a kids party is rediculous, but if that is your deal then go for it. your kids will awlays have high expectations and have further to fall when you can’t always deliver the goods. She did not mess it up. Thank God that He gives us new chances everyday to make memories!!

wow October 28, 2008, 4:05 PM

I really don’t understand why she felt she had to lie. Kids don’t need a party every year, nor it doesn’t have to be a big event. But making their day special a favorite dinner or lunch, some presents and a cake Just Mom, dad, birthday kid and their siblings. Having a big party for milestones I understand, but not every year.

Katie October 28, 2008, 6:06 PM

I am amazed at the comments people posted. Comeon- you never lie to your children? My favorite was Amber who said “people with this problem should not be allowed to have children” WTF? Are you a perfect mom? She did not celebrate one day (what about certain religions that do not celebrate birthdays at all). She spends time with her kid and she loves him.
Who cares if she does not take her kid to every single party he is invited to. He turned 4.

BTW people who think they have to throw a b-day party for their 2-year old or the child resent them is nuts.

Megan October 28, 2008, 6:23 PM

Thanks for sharing…none of us are perfect. We celebrate our children’s birthdays together even though they are several months apart…why? Because one is VERY close to Christmas. I still feel bad when the actual birthday passes unmarked. We had his birthday back in September…but I feel awful. I guess you know what that is like.

I think acknowledging there is an issue means you are trying to be the best parent you can.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Our birthdays are party less. We get individual cookies or cupcakes from the store and small presents and it is usually just mom and dad. The kids are fine with that.

Most children are easy to please…and when they get older and need a little more to get the silly grins on their faces we will reevaluate.

Maureen October 28, 2008, 6:35 PM

My daughter is going on 15 this year and over the years we have had an assortment of birthday parties of different kinds. The ones where you invite children only (she was 5 and 7 I believe for these). The parents dropped them off and picked them up afterwards. I had small sleepover parties with 3 of her friends (actually 1 friend was her age and her friend’s little sister and the sister’s little friend, they all played together all along so it was no big deal) we had make your own pizzas and decorate your own cupcakes.. then they played together. Others I have had were a pizza party where the parents dropped off at the local pizza house and we watched everyone there (again parents did not stay). And 1 year her ballet teacher was doing parties with themes so we rented her and her studio and all the parents dropped their kids there.. and even me and my hubby did not have to stay. We left and got McDonald’s happy meals (each kid chose their meal when responding the invitation so their parents were aware of the meal choice) and brought the meals at the set time, they ate, had cake, opened presents and then the parents picked everyone up. We did a build a bear day with one friend only.. they each got to pick on critter to build then we went to dinner (I forget where). Then of course there was the Chuck E Cheese year (I am still trying to forget that one.. lol that is NOT my fav place.. lol). Anyway birthdays don’t have to include grownups, they don’t have to have lots of kids, they don’t even have to be at your house. When I grew up I had only 1 party with a group of friends. The rest were with my family or with 1 friend. There are still ways to celebrate the day doing something special without having to put yourself into a panic attack or get drunk to handle it.. Use your imagination.

Trish October 28, 2008, 7:22 PM

One word : PATHETIC

Anonymous October 28, 2008, 7:37 PM

I can completely understand where you are coming from. I do not like to be around crowds at all and even more so people I do not know.
I can also understand how your son would feel when or if no one showed up…been there, done that.
My daughter was born in August and was very popular. My Son, 18months older than his sister, was born in January and not so popular. The first problem was planning a January birthday. Space was limited in my mobile home and you couldn’t depend on weather to have it outside. Well, long story short, my son’s I think 9th birthday we had a really nice sledding party with barbeque and the whole 9 yards….it was a beautiful warm January afternoon and there was going to be 9 or 10 boys there. Unfortunately, even though all had replied yes to the invitation, only 1 showed up. Not only was my son devastated, I was as well and then ther was the issue of the money we had spent on this party. We went through with the party of course and we had fun with the 1 guest that came. Later my son, who was clearly saddened by the lack of party guests, asked why no one ever comes to his party but every one comes to his sisters. That absolutely broke my heart to have to try to give him an explanation without completely destroying his self esteem.
Well any how, I can totally understand the moms feelings.
I am sorry for my misspellings, my mind is in another galaxy right now.

Anonymous October 28, 2008, 10:22 PM

a cake a candle a present to open with u if u have a spouse andthe kid… unless you want your kid to grow up as screwed up as you…

Cathy Napier October 29, 2008, 10:10 PM

God Bless you for admitting something you did wrong and on something like this where MANY people will put you to the stake to burn you.

if you child goes to a group or school let the parents know ahead of time and just bring cookies or cupcakes to celebrate for HIS special day.

If you feel that you cannot handle the anxiety of people, get on medication if you can handle it. Medication offers many side effects so talk to your dr about this.

IF anything comes about & you child still would like something more, think about hiring a sitter or family member to do the festivties for the child at a local MCD or BK or park or chuckEcheese - and you just sit home and do what u need 2 do for yourself and when your husband & sitter/family member comes back home view the pictures and deal with it that way.

I do not think you were at all right and had no reason to lie to your child. You just taught him that lying was ok and it is not!! Be honest w/him even though he is young, just say Mommy can’t handle crowds .. and compromise.

Maybe just a sleep over w/a friend or x amount of friends that you can deal w/them and their parents.

Never lie again to your child about something like that. Start going to counseling and try to get out there a bit. Join a church, group or something for just 1 hr a weekend and go from there.

God loves ya - and your kid .. so love him back and give a little of yourself and you’ll get back ten-fold.

Becca October 30, 2008, 8:36 PM

We don’t do big parties every year! However we make it a point to at least do cake and ice cream with just our little family. We get them at least two or three gifts and make a point to be loving of just them that day. Sure we don’t do big parties but what we can do is appreciated by our kids. They always feel like they are wanted! Its very important for a child to feel wanted and special at least some of the time. It gives them the self confidence they need. My parents didn’t do parties or even at least say happy birthday and I can say that it effected me greatly as a child! I often felt not wanted or like they didn’t even care. All I wanted was even just a happy birthday from them verbally and I would have been happy. So now I make it a point to at least do cake and ice cream every birthday even if I have to make a cake myself for money purposes! This mother isn’t a bad person for what she did but however I think she does need some help in preventing herself from lying to her child again! I hope she thinks about it and even if they can’t afford a party they can always afford a happy birthday son!

lisa  October 31, 2008, 9:33 AM

I think you have to try and think what your son will say when he gets older and he looks back to find he didnt celebrate his birthday as other children do.

You only need to celebarte it with him and family and make it special.
I have a terrible phobia of wasps bees and all insects but I still take my girls out in the summer knowing I will have to face them on a regular basis.I am petrified but have to deal with it, I have to admit ,I cry and run and shout etc, but my girls understand and appreciate the fact I still take them out. It isnt just about you any ,more this is your child!!!!

I wouldnt like to think i had deprived my child of his birthdays because of my phobia. I once didnt tell my daughterit was her 3 rd birthday because she had chicken pox and I picked a random day once she was well and we celebrated it then, but I had her best interests at heart.

Anonymous November 3, 2008, 3:43 AM

You are afraid of people not showing up or the party being a total failure..well lady, how the heck is that suppose to happen when you didn’t even throw a party for your son. You totally pretended like your son’s birthday doesn’t exist, because of your fears. But how about what makes your son happy, a party does not last all day, you could of at least given him a few hours of celebrating his special day. Shame on YOU!

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