It sounds to me like you haven't taken your friend's changing circumstances into account and are expecting her to turn up for what you view as a 'fun time' as if she didn't have the responsibility of a two-year-old and, to a lesser extent, a husband to worry about. And I'm afraid I strongly disagree with your twist on 'since they have a child, they don't get to do everything they want.' You seem to think it means YOU can have what YOU want instead and they should be used to making sacrifices anyway, so one that happens to give you your way is going to be fine.
Sorry, but no, it doesn't work like that.
Besides, since you have a DH, who will presumably be co-hosting the party and getting at least half of the credit, what's wrong with making him do the work instead?
Ok, first of all, I am not MAKING anyone do any work. DH and I work together to put on a party that our friends will enjoy. I also do not 'make' my friend help me. I'm not sure why you put the phrase 'fun time' in quotations. It IS a fun time for both of us. She enjoys helping out, as I enjoy helping her out when she is in a similar situation. It's enjoyable for us to be able to catch up and talk while we prep.
And honestly, when people have children, they DON'T get to do everything they want. Just like I don't get to do everything I want because of my work schedule. But it's a good job and so the schedule is my sacrifice. People make sacrifices, it's a fact of life. Having a child and making subsequent sacrifices involving child care is the example I used because that's what my question was about.
In no way did I mean that because they have a child, I get whatever I want. My question was about my house, my party, my money and my time being spent on a special party that DH and I throw annually. That's why I was pretty sure I had done the right thing in deciding what happens in my house. I came to ehell for clarification.
MrsCrazyPete, you didn't do anything wrong. You had every right to insist that the toddler not be around during setup, for a whole host of valid reasons. (Heck, even if your reasons WEREN'T valid, which they are, you'd have the right anyway).
I think sometimes there is a strong tendency for people when reading these scenarios to need someone to be 'the jerk'. Thus, whoever they identify more with becomes 'the victim', and automatically that makes the other party 'the jerk'. I think that a small number of people in this thread identified more with your friend, and thus needed to identify *you* as 'the jerk', while a larger group identified more with you and thus needed to cast your friend as 'the jerk'.
But in reality, most stories of real life don't actually have a victim and a jerk. It's usually just two people with somewhat conflicting desires muddling through as best they can.
I don't fault your friend for trying to maximize her time with you. I don't blame you for feeling that the toddler coming with her was a recipe for disaster. I don't blame your friend for being disappointed. I don't blame you for standing your ground. I'm glad that the situation worked out reasonably well.