Today is Marcus’ birthday. I wish I could say that I’m this amazing wife and mother who makes every birthday better than the last, but the truth is, I’m usually coming down from my own birthday week, and when Marcus’ birthday comes I’m like, “oh crap” and I’m scrambling to put together an awesome birthday, but I usually fall short. Not to mention that after all these years together, I still find myself putting together a birthday for Marcus that I would enjoy, forgetting that though were a perfect match, he’s my polar opposite in many ways. A big party? Table full of friends? Concert tickets? They simply aren’t him.
But this year I had myself organised and prepared. Presents were ordered. I had a plan for the birthday day he would want, not the one I would want. I knew what he wanted for dinner. I was going to be “a good wife.”
The birthday cake almost stumped me. Marcus loves my carrot cake, but as the kids have been home on term break, I’m behind on just about everything related the cooking and cleaning. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to whip out.
And that’s when Erica asked if she could make Marcus’ cake.
Now, I am not a perfectionist control-freak.
I don’t mind messes…if they’re my messes. It makes parenting young children…heck, it makes living with others…a difficult task. And I’ve had to work daily on it.
So when I cook or bake with the girls, once in a blue moon, it doesn’t end well. I let them maybe pour one ingredient in. I let them stir but get frustrated when batter ends up on the counter. I sigh at the bowls on the counter and micromanage every second. The agenda is clear–I am in charge and they are allowed to do a tiny bit, just enough so they can feel like they helped.
But this year, this time, I thought, “no.” The girls are getting bigger. In some ways I give then plenty of opportunities to grow and be Independent, but in many ways I keep then young. So I let them make and decorate the cake.
It was extremely hard. I still helped stir. I poured the batter into the tin. But I made a very conscious effort to let Erica lead. It was not easy, but I did it with intention.
When the cake was done and cooled, she and Samantha wanted to ice and decorate it. Alone. I was worried about Erica’s reaction if the frosting didn’t spread easily and began to rip the top of the cake. I had the entire scenario in my mind before anything had even happened. It would be awful. She’d kick off and get frustrated and I’d end up with chaos. I should frost the cake.
But I didn’t. “Ok,” I said. I helped them find the decorations and utensils. I opened the store-bought frosting. And I left the room.
You heard me right. I LEFT THE ROOM.
It was so hard. When I heard the girls rummaging through the cabinets, I almost went back in. When I heard, “Mom, do not come in here yet,” I *really* almost went back in. But I didn’t.
And when it was all said and done, we had this:
This is a game changer, people. For me, and for them.
They probably won’t remember today, when they are older and reflecting back on their childhoods. But I will. I’m going to try to remember this day a lot more often. I will fall short some days. But, I hope, I’ll fall short less often.
For what it’s worth, it was the best cake I’ve ever eaten.