So yesterday was my son’s sixteenth birthday. Bit of a milestone – one which, in some ways, I’m trying to ignore as it makes me feel incredibly old. Which I am. But I try to gloss over that. Suffice to say that the application of Touche Eclat is getting thicker and thicker each day.
Moving swiftly on … I baked him a birthday cake yesterday. Not groundbreaking news, granted, but you see, I’ve never made him one before. I gave him a choice of the only two cakes that are in my repertoire – chocolate cake or Victoria sponge. I say they’re both in my repertoire … I’ve never made a Victoria sponge before. So my repertoire consists of one cake. That I made once. I was therefore really hoping he was going to go for the chocolate cake, which, of course, he didn’t.
I blame my shockingly limited baking ability (although my brownies are in fact, legendary) on having to go back to work full time when my son was barely three months old. Soon after, I became a single mother and spent the next seven years having to work full time in London just to keep a roof over our heads. I was, perhaps naively, too proud to even consider taking any benefits that were on offer – an opinion that has definitely changed over the years, so I found myself running him (literally running) down to the childminder at 6am every morning, running home to change, running to the train station, doing a full day’s work then coming home.
And lather, rinse, repeat.
I should have been a size 8 – but I wasn’t. Bloody typical.
My point being, I wasn’t able to attend his Sports Days, let alone have the time to bake cakes. I never felt sorry for myself, this was my choice after all (albeit borne out of necessity). It was what it was.
On the eve of his sixteenth birthday I explained I couldn’t afford to buy a fancy cake this year and therefore I was going to bake him one. I kinda feel really bad about never having done this before, but he looked at me and just said, “I’d much prefer a home made cake than a bought one Mum,” and we both knew why.
The Victoria sponge wasn’t perfect. The circles of greaseproof paper I’d cut for the bottom of the tins were too big, got folded up the sides and half the sponge came away with it when I peeled it off, and a deep well appeared in the top of one of the sponges that I managed to just cover up with plenty of icing sugar and candles.
But it couldn’t have tasted sweeter. Even though I’m not unemployed through choice and I’m desperately looking for work, being able to do something as simple as bake a birthday cake was a pleasure.