Birthday parties make me anxious.
Hosting a child’s birthday party should be a relatively simple exercise. But for some reason when the time comes around, I seem to get into a bit of a flap.
I have tried to figure out why it is so, and I think I have narrowed it down to the cake…
When I was growing up, my sisters and I used to pour over the Women’s Weekly Cake Book for hours on end. Entire afternoons were spent reminiscing about the cakes we had picked in birthdays gone by, and agonising over which one to choose next.
And when the time came, my Mum never failed to deliver. Cake after delicious cake: Humpty Dumpy, the pool, the piano, the artist’s pallet… Those cakes used to make me feel so special. I could flick through that magazine today and name every cake I had and the birthday I had it for.
As a result, I think I may attach a disproportionate degree of importance to the role of the cake vis a vis the entire birthday experience. And the stress I put myself under to produce the perfect cake in order to make my children feel special results in me being so mean to everyone that no one feels special.
For example, will an awesome cake make up for me:
- Running around the house for the entire morning of the party yelling at the children for not helping?
- Threatening my eldest daughter with banishment to the bedroom for the duration of the party if she doesn’t stop fighting with her sister?
- Greeting Hubby when he arrives home after a 24 hour flight home from New York (where he has been for 9 days) with a perfunctory peck on the cheek and “I need you to unstack the dishwasher and blow up some balloons!”?
In hindsight, I think perhaps the answer is no… And as it happens, the cake wasn’t even awesome. (Fans of Peppa Pig may attest her snout is not supposed to look like a penis – although thankfully everyone was kind enough not to mention it.)
So anyway, lesson learned.
Next time, I will try to relax. But I’m no pastry chef, and as the pressure mounts and I’m up to my ears in food colouring I know I may falter. In that case, I hereby grant Hubby permission to banish me to my room, take the kids, and drive down the road to the Cheesecake Shop. Because a happy birthday is surely about more than just the cake…