Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Super mum goes awry

It's nearly midnight and I can finally go to bed. Why? Because I have now baked and iced twenty odd cupcakes for my son's birthday, to be distributed to his class tomorrow.

When he asked me earlier this week if I could bake cupcakes for his entire class, I could think of no reason to say no. I thought it was so sweet that he asked. I guess because he is turning seven, and I have this feeling that he is slipping away from me - not yet, but soon. So, anyway, I said something along the lines of 'yes, of course' and slipped off to watch crap TV feeling warm and fuzzy about my mothering skills. Mock-groaning to my colleagues for the past three days that I have promised to make those cupcakes and must do them , between work and bed on Wednesday night. As I bitched and moaned, I felt secretly quite smug that I am the type of mother who does such things - even if I do work. Definite super mum.

The first real, actual twitching of feeling too tired to do it, regretting my foolish, simple-seeming promise, was when my partner was on his way out the door to the shops and I realised I hadn't prepared ingredients. No problem - gave him a list of things to get.

Next twitch crept up on me as I sat on the couch eating chocolate ice cream and strawberries and watching Extras, luxuriating in doing nothing ... and realising that nothing was about to end.

Then, having reluctantly pulled self off couch as the credits rolled, knowing that my perfect, super-mother status was looking shaky at best, I congratulate myself for dragging self into kitchen and the task at hand ... and notice that my darling partner has bought enormous muffin-sized paper patty-pans. Means more baking to be done and enormous cakes for small children - but I can handle that. Annoying, but do-able.

I go to the cupboard and start pulling out ingredients - and remember, with horror, last weekend, when seven-year-old son shook (sealed) sugar container over head like a lone maraca, and the lid came off, spilling sugar over his head like a particulalry nasty case of dandruff. Remember laughing uncontrollably at the sight. Remember NOT taking this as a sign that I should buy more sugar.

I almost have enough sugar to make normal batch of cupcakes. No problem, they will have to be slightly less sweet than usual (not to worry, industrial-strength icing will ensure the little darlings don't even notice).

Partner enters kitchen and notices the sugar problem. Murmuring and head-shaking indicate perhaps I am not so very super. Hear throwaway comment about how I should have checked cupboards before 9:30pm the night before the birthday. Partner suggests I include icing sugar to top up. I give him withering look and explain that this would be ridiculous and that he doesn't know anything about baking. (I don't always take kindly to kitchen advice.) He looks at the big patty pans (that HE bought) and realises they are somewhat large. Bafflingly suggests I call my mother for advice about how to make the cakes fluffier. (???!!!) I fix him with a look he correctly translates as: 'What is wrong with my cakes? Do you think I can't do fluffy? Leave the kitchen immediately', and he explains that if the cakes are REALLY fluffy, maybe they will rise enough to fill the little pans. I tell him that's ridiculous, but beat the ingredients extra hard just in case.

I add a pinch of icing sugar to the mixing bowl. I long for my bed and a book.

Final stages. I'm getting the cakes ready for the oven. They seem to look like they'll be okay, and that I can do the required twenty. I have to. After all, there is no sugar to do another batch, even if I DID summon up the energy. I now wonder why I decided to do this. Not even the stay-at-home mums do this, let alone the ones who need to leave for the train at 7am tomorrow. (Though the stay-at-homes do about a million other things, including take their kids to school and help out at class, fundraising, etc.)

No time to ponder whether this reeks of over-compensation.

The cakes are out. Granted, they struggle to half-fill the patty pans, but they have risen enough to classify as cakes rather than biscuits. I'm sure they'll taste good. And I'm still relying on the icing to dress them up.

Okay, icing. I will do something really impressive. I will make footy team cupcakes. I ask my partner, who is watching TV on the couch (lucky him lucky him) what the West Coast colours are, and set to work. A lot of bother later, I proudly carry a plate of schizophrenic blue-and-yellow cupcakes into the lounge room.


I wait for my accolades. My partner looks at the plate in silence. This is bad. I can feel him working up to something. 'They're a bit small.' Pause. 'Maybe you should take them out of the patty pans.' I tell him that the patty pans are very important. I don't really know why. Maybe I think they look suitably festive. Maybe I don't want to do anything else to them. Maybe I just don't want him to be right.

'Do they look like West Coast cakes?' I ask hopefully.
'Not really," he says.
I look at them. I have to admit I'm not sure exactly what West Coast colours are but I hazard a fair guess that the blue is not soemthing akin to sea-green.
'Can't you make the blue a bit darker?'
'No,' I say. 'I can't. It has to be this light or they won't taste any good.'
'Really?' Not really. I just can't fix it now.
'We'll tell him that these are West Coast colours,' I say. He will love it. He will believe us. I know it.
'Sure,' says my partner. 'They'll be fine.'

So I take a photo or two of my masterpiece, my four plates of stunted cupcakes striped sea-green and lemon-yellow, and breathe a sigh of relief that I have done it. I have even rung my son's father and asked him to come and get the cupcakes in the morning and run them to school for me.

'He told me you were doing that,' he says. 'He's really looking forward to them. That's great.'

It's as close as I get to super mum at the momvent anyway. I'll tackle the problem of my 'big present' that I've just found out is the same as his Dad's 'big present' tomorrow.

For the record, here are the almost-super cakes: