I had the best intentions.
I enjoy writing. I love my children.
How hard could it be to keep a journal of their milestones? How could I possibly fail to record the cute things they said, and the humorous little anecdotes of their early years?
The pile of blank journals available for use when I started writing stories again speaks for itself.
I’m terrible at keeping regular records. Even our photo albums fell off after the first child. (Yes, we are the cliché family. Millions of pictures printed off of the firstborn, and a few of the second. Wait, there’s a third?)
While I don’t have the detailed records I dreamed of, or even the basic ones that I thought realistic, my children’s little stories surface in unexpected places.
This week it was through birthday cake.
Since I have a difficult time seeing toys and gifts as anything other than future messes to clean, (not more Legos! Noooooooooo!) my husband tends to be the birthday shopper in the family.
My contribution is the cake.
I love to bake. Usually I focus on taste rather than appearance- fancy frosting and designs aren’t my specialty. For birthdays I make an exception. My children come up with their design requests, and I do my best to fulfill them.
The cakes may not be professional or perfect, but I treasure these old pictures. Each design holds a story, a glimpse of who my children were.
My firstborn always expressed herself well, and had very specific wishes as a three year old. We had cats, so it had to be a cat cake. A pink kitty cake with blue frosting, and sprinkles.
I did my best.
She grew, and the commercial world intruded.
My husband or I had brought home a DVD of some of the 1980’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons. Our little girl was an instant fan.
Still, just as in all of our games, she added her own twist- “I want a ninja turtle riding a tiger. In the snow. With gummy worms.”
This year she requested a ‘Shopkins’ cake. This marked the first year public opinion swayed her- she became interested in Shopkins because of friends at school.
It also marks the first (though likely not the last) time that my children have gotten excited about something that I don’t understand at all.
“It’s food…with faces?” I asked her.
“Yes! Aren’t they cute?”
Cute’s not the first word that comes to mind…I’m not sure I like the thought of my food looking at me…
For her, I gave it a try.
My son’s requests have been entirely different.
He’s loved vehicles and machinery since infancy. At three, the cake had to have motorcycles with roads and trees.
Next year he wanted vehicles again- airplanes.
I expected spaceships this year, but he surprised me.
“I want a cake with water.”
He loves the water. I almost had to carry him back to the rocks of the shore on his first beach excursion- he just wanted to wade, no matter how wet his tennis shoes got. He has added a river or lake to every scene in his National Park coloring book, including the desert and cave pictures, because “it makes them look better.”
It took a little imagining, but he was happy with the results.
My youngest is the animal lover. The others like animals, she adores them.
Hedgehogs are her favorite, especially her stuffed “Mr. Snuffles,” hence last year’s cake in her favorite color.
This year it had to be a “fishy cake,” and she’s already planning on a polar bear for next year…but who knows? They grow and change and even a small thing like a birthday cake design marks the passage of time.
I love the little stories that these cakes bring to mind- memories of happy days that are receding too quickly into the past.
No, I haven’t got complete, detailed life-journals to hand to my children someday. I’m thankful that the memories, stories and glimpses of who they were survive even my poor record-keeping.
Have you encountered any little things in your life lately, things that brought up half-forgotten memories or moments from the past? Do you have tricks to keeping your family’s important memories close?