My husband turned 50 years old last week and I threw him a party.
To my surprise, I actually started getting excited about the event in the weeks leading up to it. I had fun ordering the cake, the giant card, the food, the DJ, the decorations, the customized bobblehead and picking up the most beautiful dining room table made out of 100-year-old barn wood that I’d commissioned for him months before.
What was less fun was that feeling of responsibility for everyone’s enjoyment the night of the celebration. The sight of any lone person or couple not mingling caused me stress and I felt frustrated that I was unable to talk to everyone as much as I wanted to.
I tried to shake off those feelings because I knew they didn’t make sense. As it turns out, my anxieties didn’t stop there. I also managed to get a wicked cold that same day, developed a pounding headache as the night progressed, and became even more forgetful than usual.
Despite the fact that people seemed to be having a good time and the party didn’t end for some of them until 4:30 in the morning, I kept thinking about what I could have done better.
As I lay in bed trying desperately to fall asleep, I started mentally listing off the things I should have remembered or done differently.
“It was perfect exactly the way it was,” Paul said when he realized I was beating myself up. “No one’s ever thrown a party like that for me before. I had a blast.”
And, really, that’s what mattered most. Of course I wanted everyone to have fun and I wanted everything to go as planned, but if he hadn’t enjoyed the night, none of it would have been worth it. He was an excellent guest of honour and much less neurotic than I was as host, or would have been if I’d been in his shoes. He tried to talk to everyone, but he didn’t stress that he missed a few. He also didn’t take on the responsibility of other people’s level of enjoyment. He simply relaxed and had a great time himself. If only I could be more like him. In our 19th year together, he’s still teaching me a thing or two.