Our baby has just turned 5. I say baby but he's actually the middle child. But of course they are all my babies and they always will be.
One of the enduring memories of my childhood is choosing our birthday cakes.
Mum had the old classic Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book and we used to flick through it all year round talking about the cakes we might like.
Of course, most of these "memories" are probably more from flicking through the family albums.
However, for some unknown reason (insanity?) I want to make the kids' cakes myself even though it makes so much more sense – financially, physically, emotionally – to outsource the job.
This time, the cake was a two-day affair. It usually is: you have to make the cake a day or more in advance to stop it crumbling when you cut it into shapes and ice it.
In addition to this are the items you need to add on to the cake which could involve trips around town to multiple shops and supermarkets.
This year our boy chose the "Frank the Robot" cake from The Great New Zealand Birthday Cake Book.
This cake is not a cake. It's three cakes. Three big cakes. Each cake has 560gm of caster sugar and four eggs in it. They're massive. And you basically make these cakes just to cut them into shapes because this is truly not a cake, it's a sculpture.
The reality is if you screw up the shape-cutting, you're making another cake so it's stressful, especially if you have three kids trying to poke things and sit on your feet as you work.
I don't know what all those ingredients cost because I am too scared to check, but it's up there and that's just for the base ingredients.
Then there's kebab skewers to stick the legs on, liquorice to make the extras, Oreo cookies for its eyes, and so on.
Of course, you can never find all the things you need so you end up having to improvise.
No one anywhere had seen Giant Jaffas (an apparent casualty of Cadbury's departure from Dunedin) so marshmallows will have to do, and so on.
The things you need just one or two of end up being things you have to buy an entire packet of, and some things you try to replicate just don't come off the same.
But you know, this act of cake/sculpture-making has to make up for my parenting failures through the year, to undo some of the damage I have inflicted on my kids from yelling or losing my patience and generally being otherwise inadequate as their mum.
Can you feel the love that has gone into this cake? Can you?!
Is it worth it? I don't know.
Even the teenage checkout operator at Countdown offered some advice. He'd asked me what I had been up to and I told him I was planning a party and just getting the ingredients for this giant robot cake I needed to make. He responded:
"I'll give you a tip… we don't remember much."
It's not a good sign when a teenager has more common sense than you.
I'm definitely outsourcing the next cake.
I also said that last year.