If today is Cole's birthday party, then last night I could be nowhere but my dining room table hunched over a cake project. Last year, I made a fire engine cake thanks to Howdini.com. This year, it's a mama and a baby dinosaur cake. With teal icing and dark chocolate polka dots.
The difficulty with being a mother of young kids is that, despite the fact that they go to sleep early, it always seems like I'm more tired than them. So last night, knowing that I'm battling bronchitis, I started on the cake project early in the evening. I'd baked the cakes the night before. I cut out the stencils and placed then on the cake and carefully cut away the extra pieces. Then I put them in a bowl and fed bits to my kids for snack.
As my kids munched and watched me, I began to assemble and ice the cake. The first layer of icing isn't important, aesthetically-speaking, because it is what is called the crumb coat. That means, you put a thin layer of icing over the cake then let it cool so the second, decorative layer, has no crumbs in it. (We don't have a fridge big enough to cool the cakes and the icing, so I had to put them on the patio table out back and then camp out next to them to keep away raccoons and squirrels).
As I began to ice the cake, Cole became increasingly interested in helping. I warned that the cake had to "set" for a bit and he wouldn't be awake for putting on the spots. So he asked if he could put on the icing. In a moment of temporary insanity, I let him put a big dob on the cake spatula and gently spread it over the top. Not so bad, I thought.
"Okay," I said, "Now you've helped decorate your cake!"
But he wouldn't let me pry the spatula out of his hands.
"Can I put a bit of icing on the edges, Mommy? I am really easy at edges!"
I looked at my much anticipated dinosaur cakes in front of me and looked at my son's eager expression and made a mental note to myself that love is more important than beautiful dinosaur cakes and I let him load up his spatula with more icing. Then he promptly stabbed and amputated the mama dinosaur of one of her front legs. My mouth formed in a silent scream and Cole giggled and said, "Oopsies! I guess I'm not so easy at edges."
I forced myself to smile and say, "Oh well. That's okay," but I took the spatula and pushed Cole off the chair and said, "Mom'll do the rest."
Taking Cole to bed, as I glanced over my shoulder before leaving the dining room, I reminded myself:
Love is more important than beautiful dinosaur cakes.