Don’t get me wrong. I love baking. The results of said love contributes to my wibbly wobbly mummy tummy. But we all know there is increasing pressure on us to produce show stopping birthday cakes. Especially children’s birthday cakes. And that makes it a loss less fun. Right now I feel like I’m standing in the Great British Bakeoff tent with Mary Berry challenging me to deliver the goods.
I hold various factors responsible for this mounting pressure:
1.PINTEREST! I love Pinterest. I could happily waste hours on it. But it will do one of two things two you when you have a child’s birthday coming up. It will either inspire you and get your creative juices flowing…Or it will remind you that you’re never in a month of sundays going to achieve that 5 tiered Frozen cake with Elsa’s face delicately hand iced onto the top of it. You gulp as you browse through what other mums have shared on their ‘cakes I have nonchalantly made whilst my angel-child takes a 3 hour afternoon nap‘ board and feel like you have to at least produce something decent.
2.Keeping up with the Jones’. Anything birthday related with your littlies and in your head you’re waiting for the judging panel to do their rounds. Presents, parties or cake, you feel like you need to earn the nod of approval from other mums. Let’s be honest, none of us want other people to think we’re doing a rubbish job with our kids, right? I mean, come on people, this one is getting out of hand. Birthday parties are getting more and more elaborate, the expectation to match or do better than the last one your child went to. Party bags are no longer acceptable with the generic tat that used to be found in them. It’s got a little crazy.
3.Having a Ruby. My littlest bear, who’s birthday it will be in two days time is far less tactful than my biggest little bear. My eldest is of the age and sensitivity that she would be delighted with a platter of cupcakes or a simple chocolate cake. Or maybe she just knows that I burn stuff. But not my smallest little bear. She still holds the naivety that her mummy can do anything. And the fortitude to expect it. Oh yeah, and she loves to watch baking videos on Youtube. No pressure then.
Call me the worst mum in the world, but we’re not throwing out little bear a birthday party. We were on holiday last year and it was glorious to do all the celebrating away from home without the expectation of hosting a gathering of screaming mini-people. And this year we plan to head off on a family day out to the place of her choice (a theme park). Later on we’ll celebrate her birthday ‘Dales style’ at the annual village summer party, complete with Jack ‘n’ Jill slide. She’ll be happy, we’ll be happy, jobs a good’n.
Back to the cake.
This year I chose not to obsess over it. The cake, that is. Not to spend huge amounts of time pouring over ideas and building up the expectation that it has to be awesome. I’ve done that before and I’ll likely do it again. But this summer is all about slowing down and learning to just be. No unnecessary hassle allowed in this house. So I’ll happily get flour in my hair and exasperate Mr C with a messy kitchen. I’ll enjoy baking whatever catastrophic product I end up with. Theodore Roosevelt noted that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. He was so right. Sometimes you can be damn well pleased with something you have achieved…Until you see someone do a better job of it. Had you not come across someone else’ version, then you would have happily remained in that bubble of contented pride. I’ve been given a few options from the boss. All of which I’ll ignore and bake her what I can manage. Maybe a hybrid of all of them. Some hundreds and thousands here and there with maybe a sparkler on top…It will look ok I’m sure, and even taste good. But if it’s not replicating someone else’ masterpiece then it should only turn out like it turns out. Then I’m onto a winner.
But first for some sustenance.
Mrs C x
What do you think of kids’ birthdays? Do you relish in the whole shindig?