The Goodie Bag Mommafesto

I want to live in a world where we celebrate each other with hugs and cake and silly songs.

A world where “I love you” slips easily off the tongue, and “Happy Birthday” is a heartfelt acknowledgement that we are so glad to be friends.

I want to live in a world where every child has what they need to be healthy and safe and clean and clothed. A world where every child has paper and crayons and paint, and sticks and string and boxes, to help their imaginations soar. A world where every child learns not only to read and write, but to love books. Real books… with pages that have been turned by many fingers and that have that special book smell. Yes! A world where every child has a library card and uses it.

In short, I want to live in a world where every child’s basic needs are met. I do not want to live in a world of haves and have-nots. Of excess. Of piles and piles of unused plastic toys.

In other words, I want to end the Birthday Party Goodie Bag!

Are you with me? Do you, too, feel that you do not want to raise our children to expect bags of plastic trinkets at the end of every freakin’ birthday party?

I believe we can do better for our children. I believe less is more. I believe that experiences and relationships are more important than yet more things.

I believe my house is going to explode—soon—from all the plastic bracelets and bouncy balls and stickers and plastic gift bags that I cannot recycle and so cannot bear to throw away.

Here’s what I know for sure: my kids don’t need them.

They have enough. They have so much. In fact, they have so much stuff, that nothing is special to them anymore. They don’t have that one special prized possession. They may prefer certain toys or need to sleep with a certain blanket, but they don’t get to experience that long-drawn-out desire for that one special birthday or Christmas toy. We’re depriving them of what it means to want and wait–delayed gratification is an important skill, right? Instead they’re swimming in a sea of balls and dolls and legos and trinkets.

What our kids need more of is to just be kids together. Our kids love to play, and I love seeing them together—it is so sweet to see their secret giggles and big smiles as they come up with a new game.

And I like you too. I’m glad that we are traveling this road of motherhood together. And I know that we are all trying so damn hard to be enough. To make sure our kids know we love them, despite all those awful mornings we yell at them to get their shoes on and that yes, they really do have to wear a jacket, and no, they still aren’t tall enough yet to sit in the front seat.

And I also know this: the day-to-day work of parenting is exhausting and perplexing and has few rewards. At least they are for me. I feel like a horrible mother all the time. Every day. Our children’s birthdays are an opportunity to get it together. To show our children and their friends and their friends parents—oh, and our mothers and mothers-in-law too—that we aren’t shitty moms. That we can do this mom gig. That, maybe, one day a year, we can even excel at it. With our Instagram-ready cakes and Pinterest-inspired birthday decorations and clever, thoughtful goodie bags, we can show the world that yes, indeed, we are good moms.

But our kids don’t care about all that, and neither do their friends.

They just want to have fun and eat cake. Really.

That was enough when we were little, right? Sure, that was a time where birthday party games had one winner only, and somebody always ended up crying, but nobody left feeling like they needed their own bag of consolation prizes because it wasn’t their birthday this time. When did this craziness start? When did moms get the message that birthday parties were yet another yardstick against which to measure our worthiness and success as mothers?

So let’s join together to do one small thing to change the world, raise kids who are a little less materialistic, and perhaps most importantly, to keep our houses just a little less cluttered: say no to the goodie bags. If we all join together, we can change the expectations of a generation!

Are you with me?

P.S. It would be awesome if you’d share this post. Get others to join the Goodie Bag Mommafesto!

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Part of the solution since 1973.

11 thoughts on “The Goodie Bag Mommafesto

    1. I think it was meant to keep children from morphing into tiny giant monsters, but they just became a different kind of monster instead.

      I want to take a moment to say thank you for always reading and commenting. I truly, truly appreciate it.

  1. It is a crazy notion, isn’t it? And as you point out, the trinkets just pile up in the house, unused. When my kids were younger, I finally switched to one gift the party attendees use and a couple treats. For example, a $5 lego box or a Matchbox car for each boy who came. The boys seemed to like getting those, and they’d often play with them at the party. No more bouncy balls or plastic parachute men. But now I have teens and no longer have to worry about it. Phew!

  2. Preach!

    A coworker recently told me that moms these days have it so much harder than moms of her generation did. We feel such incredible need to be Perfect Moms. We plan elaborate Pinterest parties and insist that our family photos are “100 Layer Cakelet-“worthy. It’s exactly like you said.

    It’s too much for them and for us. Who are we competing with?

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