For my 5th birthday my Mom made me a chocolate cake shaped like a cat. My birthday is 2 days before Halloween so it was seasonally appropriate. I distinctly remember the picture from her Betty Crocker cookbook. I also recall that on that birthday, she gave me a party with my neighborhood friends. What makes this so incredible is that she had a NEWBORN baby . My sister was two-weeks old! (Two weeks after my daughter was born, I could still hardly move because of my nasty tear and my nipples hurt so badly that the pain took my breath away. I had 3 long, black, jersey cotton dresses in rotation because there was no way I would put my lady parts through the pain of pants or shorts. The disposable mesh panties accompanied by the adult diaper were just fine for me thank you very much.) I hope on my 5th birthday I was appreciative to my Mother, but I’m sure I wasn’t as appreciative as I should have been. I was 5 after all. I didn’t consider that my Mother was exhausted from labor or nursing or caring for a newborn and 2 other children. How could I know? She made me a cake and gave me a party; of course she did – it was my birthday right?
My daughter turned 3 earlier this month and somewhere along the way I decided I would make her a castle cake. She’s going through that princess phase so I thought she’d get a kick out of it. I searched images on Pinterest and had a vague idea of what I would do. I always feel that it’s not your birthday unless you’ve blown out candles on a piece of something delicious. Maybe it’s childish or old-fashioned, or perhaps I just want an excuse to eat dessert. I have such a warm and fuzzy memory associated with that cat cake, I just wanted my Issy to be blown away when she saw hers. I also (who am I kidding) wanted her to think I was the greatest Mom ever and …I wanted myself to think I was the greatest Mom ever .
I work part-time. My schedule leaves me one kid free day to do what I want and what I need. But the week leading up to her birthday, I had to work on that day. So every night when she was asleep, I did one portion of the cake: I baked a layer, I covered ice cream cones with chocolate, I made icing…. Understand, these parts did not look perfect. I would be the first eliminated if I were on cupcake wars, OK? But, I wasn’t concerned about it looking perfect. I just wanted it to resemble a castle. If I had more time, I would have tried to make it look slightly better. But there would be no birthday party. This wouldn’t be on the front page of The New York Times. This was just meant for her (for me???) I just wanted to bring it out and see her smile and blow out her candles. Really that’s all. Sort of. The night before her birthday I was figuring out how to assemble it together. My husband gave me this look and I just said,” I know ….is this for her or me right? …” and laughed it off. I didn’t need to make this cake. I could have bought one or ordered dessert at a restaurant. Know this – I am completely aware of my issues…I am in touch with my feelings of not “mattering”. I am aware of feeling like I need to constantly justify my existence as a Mom who is not making a significant financial contribution by doing things like making cakes that look like castles. I realize I compare myself to friends who are bona-fide self-made superstar working Moms; I KNOW THIS. It is a constant battle with myself DAILY to consider that I matter. I have been struggling with this for years. It is a constant theme in all of my posts. I need to get a handle on this or no one will ever care to read these….How do I get beyond this awareness? Hello? Tony Robbins are you there It’s me Vanessa , (the drama major who is indeed creating drama in life, but how can I put the drama elsewhere ..like ..in a paycheck maybe?? Please help!). I mean what is the real issue? Why do I hold myself to this gold standard but no one else? Why have I set a standard so high for myself, it’s impossible to reach? Or am I expecting to reach it immediately or by a certain day? Can today REALLY be the day I accept that I am a work in progress…that l’m striving to be the best version of myself and some days the best way to get there is to consider myself? There’s an idea. As I write this, my husband is at work, our daughter is at preschool. I hear only the hum of the fridge and the sound of a lawnmower somewhere on my street. It’s nice…The quiet… I exist in this quiet. I am present. It feels good to be writing. It feels good to be honest. It feels good to post this picture of my attempt at being a perfect Pinterest Mom. I tried. She loved it. She blew out the candles and ate a piece, and never really mentioned it again. She’s 3. I think I’m really fine not being perfect. In fact if I set up the standard of always being honest instead of always being perfect, I could really get somewhere.
In fact, I think I’ll consider myself right now and get a manicure because tomorrow my husband and I have a date! (And, if we’re being honest, my hands look and feel like a 90 year old carpenter’s.) So, ill start there. I’m also going to wear heels tomorrow . I’m going to wear make-up too. I’m going to carry a purse that’s too small to hold wipes and a change of clothes just in case my kid has an accident. And you can believe I’m 100% going to eat a piece of cake.
The Castle Cake
The Cat Cake as pictured in The 1978 Betty Crocker Cookbook
*Photo courtesy of the 1978 Betty Crocker Cookbook