I'm borderline insane. Aren't we all? Think about it. Insane is the new “normal”. So much information, so many activities, children, work, homework, volunteering and the list goes on.
It was my daughter's 7th birthday recently. This child has never had a real party, so this year I promised exactly that. Until party day and on the official birthday, I couldn't help doing just a little extra (or going overboard, as my husband put it). So, in spite of having spent the previous 10 days sick as a dog, nursing the concussed soccer player and having slept about as much as a mother of newborn twins, I persisted.
The morning was spent on frosting some of the 57 pumpkin spice cupcakes. The offset spatula seemed a cop-out, so I watched a video on how to create chrysanthemums instead. For whatever reason (the term reason being used loosely), this seemed an excellent idea. I was a bit discouraged given the first six cupcakes took over half an hour to complete, but I kept my pastry bag full and continued until I had thirty. I was on a roll, I told myself, and with the sense of accomplishment any mother would feel after marking off the first thing on her infinite to-do list – in my case, cupcakes, dinner, clean house, pick up children, snacks, extracurricular activities and a surprise whisking everyone away to the Friday night performance of Cirque du Soleil's Totem – off to the classroom I went.
Logistics were off, so I was asked to come back at the end of the day to share cupcakes and celebrate, which I did. In the meantime, supermom was off to make this birthday even more special! I spent the following hours cleaning out the closet and bedroom of the birthday girl. The closet was neatly organized, the surfaces tidy and most importantly, I had waited for one year to buy the coveted zebra/pink cheetah bedding on clearance (I'm not cheap, I'm frugal... or so I tell myself). Wants being wants and not related to needs, this seemed a reasonable waiting period. Just as 2:00pm rolled around, I had managed to rather efficiently spruce up the bedroom. We threw the tiger pillow-pet that her auntie had sent on the top bunk and voila!
I made it to school to pass out the cupcakes, early as it turned out. There were a few inquisitive glances... what were these cupcakes anyway? One of the children held it and examined it carefully for, my estimate is in the ballpark of, ten minutes. “What is this?” she asked, sniffing the frosting and assuming the look of British nobility - nostrils flared, eyes crossed, lips tight. “Pumpkin spice with maple cream cheese frosting” I replied. She poked and prodded, licked and bit it and gave it much consideration. “Are we going to be in the same class next year?” she asked with gravity “Because, if we are, could you please ask your daughter to make vanilla cupcakes next year? I only like vanilla cupcakes. I don't like pumpkin and I don't like anything else”.
At this point, the other three moms licking maple cream cheese frosting dropped their jaws and glared. I told the student as seriously as I could that I would make a mental note of her preferences for next year, but that I could not promise anything. I would, however, do my absolute best. Maybe vanilla would have been a better idea for the second grade palate.
The troops arrived safely home within a half hour of cupcake distribution and I sent the girls downstairs for the big surprise (the first big surprise). In the meantime, my sister called and I managed to pick up the phone. Midway through my first sentence, my youngest came running upstairs whaling, her eyes engorged with tears, her voice giving way to absolute grief. I crumbled. What had gone wrong? Was it the wrong bedding? Was it too much? Had this child been so deprived of birthday celebrations that she could not possibly handle the exuberance and joy of commemorating the day properly? The sobs would not dissipate and words could not form in the mouth of this suffering seven year old. Finally, after hugging and comforting her for what seemed an eternity, she was able to give voice to her tragic loss. “You took down my mobile...” she said, accusatory, betrayed and ultimately defeated.