We had our middle daughter’s 8th birthday party yesterday at noon. And so when 10:17am rolled around and my husband and I were in bed and instead of getting up he pulled the covers over his head I was so, so proud of him. And I then enthusiastically joined him under the covers. It’s like a fort of delayed obligations… I recommend it. (Yes we still have a baby around. We got up at 6:30am with her and then crawled back in bed at 9:30am when she went down for a nap.)
Now, the house had been cleaned, food bought, and the cake baked the night before- we’re not total monsters over here. But what were the first 2 things I did upon finally getting up and getting ready at 10:30am? Winged eyeliner (HEY I’VE NEVER TRIED THIS BEFORE SURE SEEMS LIKE A GOOD TIME FOR IT) and painting my toenails. THIS is what happens when I don’t make a list, for god’s sake.
We got everything done by 11:54am though, so it all worked out.
And I think we can all agree that cake is the worst. Not mine, I make decent cake- I just mean in general. Icing is gross. And even the best cake is just nuthin’ special. I don’t tie up a lot of pride in my baking- but I made a promise, many many years ago that I would make every one of my children’s birthday cakes. And they get to pick whatever kind of cake they want. Shark cake? plastic sharks on top. Giraffe cake? Plastic giraffes on top. Dolphin cake? You see where I’m going with this, I think. And I have made each and every one and did it with the hand mixer I bought at a Big Lots at 18 before I left for college and that has somehow made it through about a MILLION moves and that I actually don’t think I used, ever, until I started making my kid’s birthday cakes.
It’s a weird promise to have made, and I made it only to myself- but it absolutely stands in as a symbol of the mom I want to be. It stands in as a succinct version of all of this- rolled up in my head.
- I promise to be the mom that can make you dinner.
- and make you laugh and to also make sure your sense of humor is top tier.
- to mend your clothes and sew on buttons and who can make curtains if I have to and gives you a clean house to live in.
- I promise to call you outside to see possums and hawks and birds and snakes. And point out the biggest earthworm I’ve ever seen in my life holy hell that thing is HUGE!
- I promise to impart upon you a concept of self that is more than to be decorative.
- But also to let you see that being a feminist badass doesn’t mean having to deny one iota of the nurturing that goes into home cooked dinners or mending or you know. Cake baking.
- I promise to give you a chore each and every time you say “I’m bored” and that you’ll get to a point where you’ll open your eyes wide in horror after you say it and say “NEVERMIND, NEVERMIND!” and run off to your room to do something creative.
- I promise to make you play on at least one team in your life.
- But I also promise to not overbook you because free time is important to kids, and also your father and I like sleeping in on Saturdays.
- I promise you’ll love reading.
- And hell no you can’t get a phone!
- And I promise to sing you a song at night as often as I can and you know what? You’re 10 and 8. I really should just do it EVERY night still, because how much longer will you even let me? But the baby still gets the Silent Night treatment every night.
- I promise to have National Geographic in the bathroom and that it’s totally cool if you drop them in the bath, I’m just glad you’re reading them. (hasn’t happened yet, but they’re in there for y’all. Ready for whenever you pick one up.)
- And while I’ll bake your birthday cake, I promise to never get tied up in the Pinterest-y competition between moms and do all the stupid other crap that isn’t for the kid who’s birthday it is, but to show off for the other moms. I’m looking at you, mom who prints labels saying “Caitlin’s Birthday!” for the goddamn water bottles.
- Also? No goodie bags, ever. Though we did give out whoopee cushions that one memorable time. That was awesome.
And so, I will continue to make birthday cake, every year, three times a year and neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night will stay this faithful courier from the swift completion of her appointed rounds.
And the only other promise I’ve made myself that I have never ever once wavered on? No more tequila. Super committed to both. Make kids’ birthday cakes and no more tequila.
Words to live by.