It’s coming. My daughter’s first birthday is just a couple of months away. The Pinterest board is already teeming with ideas. Cute crafty decorations, snacks that are almost too cute to eat, a perfectly themed outfit – the works. I love it! Seriously, I do. But there’s the other side of kids’ party planning. The dark side.
When my oldest turned one we had the cutest woodland themed party. I handmade paper pennants to hang all around the house. We tidied and decorated so religiously that our house looked like the first floor of an Ikea, minus the price tags. Everything was great. Perfect even. All I had to do the day of was make the cake.
Now, maybe I got a little ambitious with this one. A good mom would make a nice sheet cake and call it a day. (A smart mom would order one from the bakery.) But me, I wanted to make a three-tier cake, for thirty-some people. Listen, I am not that extravagant. We had the party at our house. There were no circus animals or guest performances or fireworks or anything. I just wanted a really cute cake with a top layer that could be a smash cake for my boy. It seemed simple enough. It was not.
I could give you a complete play-by-play of the horror story, because even a year and a half later I remember the gory details. But I’ll spare you the misery and just hit the highlights. One of the cakes almost entirely stuck to the pan due to one pesky ingredient that I thought would be a fun addition, but ultimately betrayed me (I’m looking at you, chocolate chips). A major crumbs-in-the-icing situation. Two actual, real-life anxiety attacks. A giant kitchen mess explosion. And probably way too much frustration directed at my poor husband.
But I did it. I made the stinking cake and it was glorious. (I mean, it was pretty cute, but it felt glorious, ok?) We sat it out on the table and got on with the party prep. But then it happened…
I walk into the dining room just in time to see the dog with both paws up on the table, TAKE A BITE RIGHT OUT OF THE CAKE! The dog survived, but the cake didn’t come away clean. There was a nice chunk right out of the front of the first layer.
This next part, I’m almost too ashamed to share. But I served the dog cake to the party guests. If you’re reading this, and you happened to be there, don’t fret! I cut out the part that the dog actually got to, re-iced it, and made sure I was the one slicing and serving cake because there’s a reason nobody got a piece from a certain side of that particular layer. Please don’t hate me. It had to be done.
At the time, the whole thing was so intensely frustrating. Now, I can say it’s one of my favorite, hilarious, memories of my son’s first birthday. Looking back I realized, nobody else cared what the cake looked like, what decorations I had out, or even how clean my house was. They were there to celebrate and have a good time. Maybe as a mom, on social media, and in all aspects of life, I need to focus less on making things look good and more on the celebrating.
And please, for the love of all that’s good in the world, somebody remind me to order a cake for my daughter’s party.