A Piece of Cake

14 January 2012
Motherhood to me isn't just about providing a warm nurturing environment in which BabyG can reach his full potential. It's also a vicious, blood thirsty competition that I have to win or kill everyone else and myself in the process of trying. Good is not good enough. I have to have the cutest, smartest, best dressed baby. No pressure in him though - the failure is all on my head, for I must also have the most secure and well adjusted baby. It's a lot to live up to.

The thing to do on blogs these days is make a rainbow cake and post about it; following in the steps of Whisk Kid, whose rainbow cake was so beautiful, so perfect, she appeared on Martha Stewart to illuminate its superiority. No dedicated Mommy or baking blogger can hold up their head without a post about the rainbow cake; how difficult it was, but how the spectacular results were all worth it - especially to see the looks of delight on the faces of the assembled children when the rainbow cake was produced. We're holding a small naming ceremony for BabyG soon. He's too little to care if I serve cake or cans of out-of-date imported tuna bought in a bulk lot from Go-Lo. It doesn't matter. In order to prove what a loving and competent Mummy I am, I have to make a rainbow cake.

Courtesy of Whisk Kid

The thing is, I'm not much of a baker. It's been seven years, but I don't think I'll ever really get over The Cheesecake Incident. In the intervening years, I've baked a few simple cakes, but never anything like a layered rainbow cake, and never for a crowd. The potential for disaster is enormous. It's hard to escape mental images of arriving at the ceremony with my sad attempt at a cake leaning precariously to one side, forcing DH to try to shore up the sides with makeshift rigging using chopsticks. Or worse, cutting the thing open only to realise the orange layer is back home in the freezer, completely forgotten; leading a guest's three-year-old to burst into tears and proclaim "that's not a real rainbow cake!". If I had any sense I'd be on the phone to the Cheesecake Shop right now ordering something that won't disappoint everyone, but what can I say, I believe in the triumph of hope over experience. My kid is going to get a rainbow cake, and everyone is going to enjoy it, whether they like it or not.

My efforts to win Mother of the Year don't stop there. I've left it a bit late, true - he was eligible to start two weeks ago - but it's time to enrol BabyG in swimming lessons. I thought it would be a simple matter of turning up at 11am some Tuesday and paying a fee, but no. Apparently the pool I've chosen is very popular, and to win a spot for our little precious, I had to submit to enrollment day. According to the website, enrollment day meant showing up at the pool at 6am to queue for a ticket in the lottery which is drawn later that day to allocate spaces in the lessons. You have to be there when the lottery is drawn or miss out, of course, and apparently even with a winning ticket it can be a bit dicey, as parents resort to cheating and lying in an effort to secure the best, or indeed any, spot. Hardcore, sure, but no hardship is too great to ensure BabyG does the right swimming lessons with the right sort of babies; a simple suburban pool just won't cut it for him. So I polished off my steel-capped Docs, sharpened my nails and stocked up on caffeinated drinks for the big day (I couldn't run the coffee machine at that hour, of course - it might disturb the baby's sleep). I was ready for any queue of hardened swimming mothers. I would do whatever it took to get a spot for BabyG, sure he'd thank me for all this later.

Then I learned that the pool was abandoning the ticket lottery method of enrollment. All I have to do is send off a form and someone would call about a time for the baby's lessons. I feel strangely flat and let down - I wanted to prove what a great mother I am by hurting someone. I'll have to think of something else. Is it too early to become a relentless stage mom?


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