When my firstborn turned one (about ten and a half years ago), I threw him what amounted to a bar mitzvah. I have actual photographic evidence of my mother and mother in law sitting at my kitchen table in the wee small hours, sifting the confection sugar that I would use to glaze the 300 cookies I had baked in the shape of a number one. There was also a cake in the shape of a number one. I can’t say for certain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were also cupcakes. I had gotten my hands on Nigella’s Domestic Goddess cookbook, and damn it, if I couldn’t possess Nigella’s remarkable cleavage, I could at least make her party treats.
But Nigella wasn’t doing the baking. I was. Therefore, none of it tasted particularly good and all of it looked mildly misshapen and over-iced. My baking has not gotten any better, and at some point I just stopped trying and made peace with my weak baking skills (I still haven’t made peace with the cleavage, but all in good time). As for the icing, that was the first and last time I sifted anything.
That’s right. I hate to bake and I don’t care how busy we’ve all gotten making things from scratch, weaving our own clothes, and baking all our own artisanal bread, I’m not going to do it. And I’m most certainly not going to do it for a child who has not slept through the night since we moved to NY seven weeks ago. That child has been climbing into my bed and disrupting sleep for almost two months now. A woman with a toddler’s footprints on her back should have to bake NOTHING.
Hence, when Sidney, my fifth, turned three last week I took her to Baskin Robbins where she promptly picked out an Oreo cake she’d been eyeing for weeks. I made her feel extra special when I let her watch the nice man behind the counter ice her name onto it.
Her party? I brought some crappy little cupcakes into her preschool class. And to show how much I care, I also threw in some juice boxes.
In other words, one kid got a night at Versailles, and another got a slap on the back and a store bought cupcake.
I do not feel at all guilty. I do not believe that when I get to the end of my life, whoever is making decisions will look at my resume and say, “Oh, you baked your own birthday cakes? A fire engine? A guitar? Elmo? Dora the effing Explorer? Ok, I’ll give you some more time. Come back in five years.”
Not only do I celebrate doing less, but I am annoyed by new parents who haven’t figured it out yet. Two weeks ago I drove a child of mine to a birthday at one of those noisy, energetic (read: mildly obnoxious) bouncy places. In New Jersey. I have nothing against New Jersey, but I do not believe in crossing state lines for a five year old. Still, once I was in the Garden State, I made sure to be wearing lip gloss and good jeans. Just in case I ran into Springsteen.
The Boss never showed, but I’ll keep driving to Jersey just in case. Just don’t ask me to do it for a birthday party.