I should have known better. Allowing seven 7-year-olds to take over my house was a recipe for disaster, but that’s the kind of sh*t we moms do, right? At least, it’s the crazy way my brain relieves me of some of my insatiable #momguilt. Guilt for not being there enough or being too smothering. Guilt for having a second kid and not spending enough time with the first. Guilt for forcing them to eat spinach and clean their rooms. And major guilt for those times I’ve lost my temper.
To make myself feel better, I let my daughter host a birthday slumber party. My motives were twofold. Her happiness was my first priority, but it was also about the space. After years in an apartment with living room walls I could touch both of at the same time, we’d finally moved to a house with spacious rooms. Only a fool would pass up the opportunity to throw a wild kids party (…right?).
Three friends. That’s how many we decided she could invite. Ha. Fat f*cking chance. Narrowing it down to just three was like Sophie’s Choice 2.0. So I said she could invite four. Okay, fine, five, but that’s it! Ultimately, we settled on six. Six friends, plus my daughter. But it was a good group of kids that I liked, and I felt confident I’d survive, as my parents had survived my childhood slumber parties. (Note to self: Call mom and ask how the hell she survived those parties).
Michaels had all the crafts and party favors we could imagine in our wildest dreams. We chose wooden carvings of the first letter of each child’s name and decorating supplies—and if you know me, that means glitter. I love glitter. But, here’s the thing: It’s a different story when other people are the ones wielding the glitter. Especially when those people are four-feet tall with loose teeth and sweaty palms. That fancy “Glitter Library” I bought at Target with all the fabulous colors and endless possibilities? Dumped in a massive heap on squiggly wooden letters as soon as the party began. Months later, the glitter still taunts me from deep within the weave of my dining room rug.
After the barbaric craft kick-off, having become the grumpy glitter wardens of the house, my husband and I washed seven pairs of gritty, gluey hands and taped off the craft table in hopes that professionals in hazmat suits would later neutralize the area. It didn’t happen, but there was no time to dwell. Why? Because I’d decided to let the kids make pizzas. Pizzas. Sounds simple, right? It was not.
Flour. Tomato sauce. Cheese. Everywhere. Like cavemen who had time-traveled into my kitchen and were just experiencing flour for the first time, these munchkins giggled maniacally as the white, fluffy substance danced in the air and coated the floor like snow. And, oh, how the tomato sauce spattered as the kids plopped spoonful after spoonful onto helpless, drowning crust. They applied cheese with the same fanfare—because who doesn’t like a mountain of oily melted cheese? As I ran around the table, sliding on slick flour-dusted floors and puddles of tomato sauce, I wondered if I’d ever eat a slice of pizza again without wanting to punch myself in the face.
I thought for sure I’d have some respite when the kids sat down to watch a movie, so I unscrewed a bottle of wine and stared off into space, rocking slightly from side to side like a zombie. After two sips, one of the girls came to me with a sad look on her face. Apparently, The Emoji Movie was too scary, and she didn’t want to watch it. Just so we’re clear, I’m talking about The Emoji Movie. A movie that stars animated smiley faces. Honestly, I would have lost it had this complaint not come from one of the sweetest girls at the party. I sat her down at the table with me and read her a story.
I will skip the horror that was getting seven kids to brush their teeth and put on pajamas, but I will say that bedtime was not where the night ended. The thing is, nobody wants to sleep at a slumber party. They weren’t like me, two glasses into a nice bottle of red and ready to snuggle up under the covers with a crossword puzzle. They were wired, a sea of electric eels arranged in a maze of sleeping bags on my living room floor. After an hour and two dozen “you’d better be quiet” warnings, I finally decided to sit on the couch, looming over them like a storm cloud, shushing them until every last giggle turned into a snore.
Of course, as we moms know, going to bed late doesn’t mean sleeping late, and the kids were up and ready for pancakes by 6 a.m. Luckily, pancakes are my husband’s job, so I hid in bed for another hour, safely listening to their excitement from afar. Yes, I was worn-down, but I’ll admit that the sound of their laughter warmed my weary, aging heart (more so than the elephant-stampede-like commotion as they ran up and down the stairs).
The party did finally end. One by one, the parents arrived. Each time I laughed and said how easy it had been, how much fun, how well behaved their kids had been. After all, they had been well behaved. Relatively speaking. But once I closed the door on the last guest, I crawled back into bed and vowed never to host another birthday slumber party again. At least until my son turns 7.