I used to say, “nothing says ‘I don’t care’ like a store bought birthday cake.” But, since I cannot compete with an airbrush and neon icing colors, I now buy birthday cakes because, well, my kids love them.
Neon cake poised and ready to go, we had a birthday party for my oldest child last week. Birthday parties are always busy. I ran around, trying to make sure the baby had his dinner, that my preschooler was not stealing presents from the birthday boy and that our friends and family had something to drink. It was
a warm and humid august evening and the mosquitoes were giving us all a run for our money as I shuttled food from the kitchen to the outdoor table.
I adjusted citronella candles and handed out bug spray. I turned around and cut meat into tiny pieces and then paused to talk with a friend before realizing that I had left one of the side dishes in the refrigerator. It was a great night, the family was happy to celebrate my little boy and relished in his joy in his birthday presents.
As someone else was clearing the dinner plates (paper of course), I went inside and started to un-box the cake. My kitchen was quiet. I un-boxed the cake in all of its themed, artificial color and flavor, glory. I counted out the candles, one, two, three, four…. and then I remembered, one, his mostly toothless grin and the striped bib, two, the bulldozers and dump trucks, the blond, almost white hair that is now sandy, three, the excitement over gifts and trips to special places…. I remembered as I put each candle in the cake, one by one, year by year.
I lit the candles and as they burned, I carried the cake out of the kitchen to the boisterous and happy crowd outside and I said a prayer of gratitude for every year, every month and every day that I have been a mother.