By MIA FREEDMAN
I am easily intimidated by fancy cakes.
Partly, I blame the internet.
Because before Pinterest etc, the only place you saw elaborate baked goods were in The Australian Women’s Weekly’s iconic birthday cake cookbooks. Remember the swimming pool? The dumptruck? The choo-choo train? The duck with the bill made from crinkle cut chips?
These books have always been hugely popular in my house. My kids have always pored over them – often with post-it notes – and fantasised about which cake they’d have for their next birthday.
This used to make me slightly tense because I knew I was not capable of making any of them. Wait, once, years ago when I was still at school myself, I made this one for my young cousin’s birthday:
After that, I gave up.
For a few years (and a few kids) I battled to produce a home-made birthday cake, even if it wasn’t in the shape of anything more exotic than a round cake tin. Smarties and hundreds and thousands were a feature. What kid doesn’t love a sprinkle?
But several months ago, when my youngest turned four, I abandoned the pretense altogether.
And so this was his birthday cake:
I bought it from Woolworths for $4.99 and as I transported it quickly home for his party the next day, I waited for the guilt to hit me.
It never did.
I felt proud about this development because for a long time, I associated home-made birthday cakes with Being A Good Mother. I didn’t judge others but I judged myself. Even using a cake-mix seemed to be cheating.
Where on earth did this bizarre Birthday Cake Parenting index come from, I wondered? Perhaps it was born from reading quotes like this that have penetrated my consciousness for decades:
Ugh. I mean, good for you Miranda.
But here is the thing. At this time in my life, cooking does not come naturally to me. I do not enjoy it. I am not good at it. Everyone has to make decisions about how to allocate their time and in the case of birthday cakes, I weigh up the hours (many) and stress (much) it will cost me against the potential benefit to my children which is none. Seriously, none.