Give me a break

There’s No Way I'm Throwing An Over-The-Top Graduation Party

You’ll find me relaxing in a lawn chair with a slice of pizza, instead.

Originally Published: 
Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Stocksy

My daughter will graduate from high school in a month. The last few years were difficult for her, like it is for a lot of kids, and I believe with all my heart this is a huge accomplishment that should be recognized.

She wants to have a party and invite all her friends and family, which is understandable. She’d like to pass out favors and get a new dress — also reasonable. But she’s also been bombarding me with texts and Pinterest pictures hinting at other ideas: a photo booth complete with props, a sushi boat, a large heart shaped cake, and an arbor made of roses and balloons. On the one hand, I want to shower her with all those things; on the other: NOPE.

We are living in a culture where everything is super-sized, blown up, overdone, and then splattered all over the internet. I believe firmly that it makes us incredibly want-y creatures and masks the wonderful things we do have in our life. I know this because I’ve been guilty of it.

For one thing, the expense of this party would be astronomical; I got a quote for a heart-shaped cake to feed forty people and it was a month’s worth of groceries. But even if I could go out and pluck money from a tree, I don’t want my kids thinking more is more, that they have to outdo or match what they see in their damn Instagram feed, and add to unrealistic expectations about how things should be celebrated. How can I preach to them about being grateful for what you already have if I’m trying to recreate a scene from The Kardashians at my daughter’s graduation?

To be completely honest, I don’t want to spend that much on her party, and I refuse to stress myself out so other people will think I can afford it.

Unless you have a team of people you’ve hired, or a bunch of friends who live and breathe in a Pinterest world, an over-the-top celebration of any kind is going to leave you rolling on the floor wishing you had never agreed to such madness. Because you haven’t slept, ate, or been able to think about anything but the gram-worthy party you promised your teen.

I want to enjoy my daughter at her graduation party. I don’t want to be a zombie that can't even stay awake during the celebration because I’ve worked my fingers to the bone, and I’m now stressed about how I’m going to pay the mortgage this month.

And another thing: I hope the pizza I order, the fruit salad I make, and the sheet cake I ordered from the grocery store will actually make people not want to take pictures to post, and they will mix and mingle instead. How’s that for a novel idea?

When we keep setting the bar higher for kid’s birthday parties, graduations, and holidays, we are stripping away the real and pure things in life that are important.

Sexy floral displays (yup, that’s a thing), renting huge halls, and trying to recreate a scene from a reality show is just ridiculous. It makes it feel as if family and friends who come together with a dish to share, to celebrate someone they love seem, well, boring. Which, if you ask me, is the horrible reason why we now feel like nothing is ever enough.

I refuse to participate in this excessive culture. I don’t care if the neighbors are renting a tent and having thousands of twinkle lights dangling from their trees for their graduation party.

I’ll be relaxing in a lawn chair with a slice of ‘roni pizza marveling at the fact my baby girl is about to start a new stage in her life.

Diana Park is a writer who finds solitude in a good book, the ocean, and eating fast food with her kids.

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