Rules are made to be broken but some rules are sacred. Etched in stone. Set in concrete. Nonnegotiable. Beyond change.
For our family, that means baking our own birthday cakes.
That hasn’t changed but there has been what you might call “a deviation”.
As a little girl, Mum used to make cupcakes out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook along with a special cake out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes book.
I loved our old Sunbeam Mixmaster too and licking the beaters, scraping out the mixing bowl and stealing spoonfuls of mixture were also part of our cake baking ritual. That mixture was irresistible! As much as I thought cooking all that mixture was a crime, I used to love waking up on my birthday and seeing my cake. The cake was just as important as the presents…well, almost!
I have always made my kid’s birthday cakes. It started out with a dreadful number 1 cake where the blue food colouring clashed with the melted white chocolate and the icing came out a revolting army green colour, instead of baby blue. More successfully, there was Humpty Dumpty (a chocolate Easter egg) sitting on a wall made out of chocolate sticks. There has also been an Alice in Wonderland cake. The most memorable cake of all probably had to be the Thomas the Tank Engine Cake where Geoff sculpted the cake with the electric carving knife and it was really tricky pulling that one off. Making these cakes has been fun, stressful and agonising but they were made by me with a bit of help from the kids and sometimes a lot of help from Geoff. They also had one very special, magic ingredient…Mummy’s love pouring straight from my heart. That’s what really made the cakes extra special…at least to me!
Well, this year I had to break with tradition. I ordered Mister a cake for his birthday party with my family on the weekend. When I first placed the order, I felt pretty dreadful about it although to be honest, I also felt a deep sense of relief. It was all taken care of and I didn’t need to get stressed, worry…nothing.
I had met Cathy at one of my business networking meetings. I took her card never expecting to use it myself. After all, as I said before, I am the Cake Queen. I always make my own cakes and I never perceived a need. That said, I thought I’d probably pass her card on. I had seen one of her works of art and it was beautiful. As Mister’s birthday approached and I was busy and not feeling the best, that business card started to whisper in my ear. Mum and I started looking through Cathy’s web site and found a Lego Ninjaro Man Cake and showed it to Mister. He was beaming. He absolutely loved it! He really wanted that cake. It was special. He felt special and he felt loved. It didn’t bother him who made it. He was so happy that I became happy…even excited…looking forward to the grand arrival of our cake… a bit like the arrival of the Queen of Sheba!
At the same time, I still felt like a bit of a bad mother. I couldn’t even make a birthday cake for my boy. Shame! Shame ! Shame!
But does my performance as a mother really depend on whether I actually bake the cake myself or is buying a cake really good enough or possibly even an improvement?
Moreover, when it comes to being a mum, should I really be talking about performance anyway? What do I have to do to prove my love for my son…or my daughter? Be some kind of performing seal? No, I’m human and a flawed human at that. We are all flawed but just like an opal, these supposed flaws are part of our intrinsic inner beauty and what makes us who we are…whether we like it or not. It’s how we we’ve been made. The way God intended us to be for some strange reason. I don’t know or understand why he didn’t make us all perfect so we didn’t have to battle these frustrating elements of imperfection. That’s just the way it is. The way we are. Perhaps, it’s to keep us humble. I don’t know.
You are possibly reading this and thinking back to my last post and my frustration with trying to get my pantry sorted out and how I had finally reached a state of acceptance. Although I was at least somewhat accepting of acceptance back then, I am now coming to appreciate that acceptance is more of a process. It’s like building up muscle. It takes time. You can’t just click your fingers and magically accept the way things are and stop fighting. It takes time for the warrior within to put down their spear and let go.
Cathy dropped the cake off at our place. The Lego Ninja Man was just fantastic and Cathy was beaming. She seemed really excited to meet the kids and be a part of our celebration. She also encouraged us to actually cut and eat the cake. The chocolate mud cake inside was beautifully moist and scrumptious and as she said, it was too good to waste. I should also mention that the cake was served up on a mirror tray, which created some fun effects for the photos.
Everyone was really happy except the poor Lego man who was heard shouting: “My legs! My legs I can’t feel my legs!”
Perhaps, I should take a leaf out of Edith Piaf’s book: “No regrets”!
As it turned out, I did actually manage to make the kids a joint birthday cake to take to Church on Friday night. Our kids’ birthdays are ten days apart and they ended up having a Happy 79th Birthday with their number 7 and 9 on the cake. This was a chocolate cake covered in lashings of chocolate butter icing and smothered in Smarties. It was a real success and was demolished very quickly. However, I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to make this cake when we ordered the birthday cake so I did go through a lot of mental hoops this week.
Some rules are just too hard to break!
It was interesting going through my photos looking for images for this post because I found that despite my protests, this wasn’t the first birthday cake I’ve bought. Interesting how memory can spin a bit of fiction… A friend very kindly made this cake for Mister’s second birthday when we were juggling the new baby.
I’d love to hear your stories.