Introducing the Mom Who Can Screw Up Cake-Mix Cupcakes

Here it is, 4:50 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, and Elder Girleen is working off her sugar high at dance class. Younger Girleen, who missed her nap due to parental attendance at the class “valentine’s dance-party” at the elementary school, is sleeping.

This time of day, Younger Girleen shouldn’t be doing this, in fact, moms among the readership are thinking to themselves, Oh, she can’t DO that. She must be woken IMMEDIATELY! the way viewers of a horror film groan when the heroine goes out jogging alone late at night. Doesn’t she see the danger ahead? Don’t I?

I say Damn the Torpedoes and let the baby sleep.

Comments I heard moms make today, Valentine’s Day:

Oh, you MADE valentines!

Oh, you remembered the kids had to BRING valentines!

Oh, I need a nap.

I know in my heart of hearts that scissors out in the momosphere have been busy crafting beautiful things for Valentine’s Day but because I seem to have become preoccupied with revealing the dings in every Pristine Surface, let me assure you that ours weren’t in that category. They were nothing more than hearts cut out of cardstock, on which Elder Girleen had written her classmates’ names, and they were lovely, they were fine.

At least until 7:12 last night. Which was when Elder Girleen realized that they would be terrible, awful, suitable only for throwing in the garbage — unless each and every one had a “poem” written on the back of it. The poem was

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
sugar is sweet,
and so are you.

I admired the sentiment and the creativity she was displaying but it was now 7:23. The bathwater was running, there are fifteen children in Elder Girleen’s class, and above and beyond all that, she’s in kindergarten, and any parent of a kindergartener knows just how laborious the writing process is: that poem wasn’t even going to fit on the back of those valentines.

It took until about 8:30 to talk her down from the ledge of the building on that one (a family effort, Younger Girleen’s contribution: “Sister, be HAPPY!”)

Once both kids were really asleep, Husband and I had an hour-long discussion about Elder Girleen’s recent trip to the dentist and the discovery that braces are an option for six-year-olds, then Younger Girleen woke up for an hour in the middle of the night, and then presto, chango! we’re up and at ’em, and it’s Valentine’s Day.

Because I had spent the night before Valentine’s Day contemplating Elder Girleen’s need for braces before her permanent teeth come in rather than taking care of business, the first thing I had to do once the Husband and Elder Girleen had left for work and school was to make cupcakes for the “dance-party” Elder Girleen’s class would be having in the afternoon.

Occasionally I have moments where I think to myself I am MOM, hear me roar!, and completely disregard the Rule of Threes, and this morning was one of them.

The Rule of Threes is simple: Multi-tasking is all well and good and two things can sometimes be accomplished at the same time. But three? Not humanly possible.

Younger Girleen was eating a late breakfast. I needed to make cupcakes. I needed to make some phone calls. We needed to be out the door in 45 minutes. Can everything that’s supposed to happen, happen? Piece of cake (sorry — cupcake)!

Organic Wild Puffs cereal on the floor
Child cries
Phone clenched between shoulder and ear,
Mom lugs standing mixer into kitchen

These were cake-mix cupcakes. I didn’t have very high expectations for how they tasted: I just wanted them to look like cupcakes. NIce domed cupcake tops. Instead, what I pulled from the oven was 24 cupcakes kinda become one.

After surgery on them, we ended up with 12 fallen apart and in the garbage and 12 ready for the party, and we happily careened on with our day, which would end up including Younger Girleen flipping backwards out of a chair onto the concrete floor of a coffee shop, saving herself from concussion by biting her tongue instead; the double-mom tackle attempt semi-successful in that we stopped the force of her fall and avoided the emergency room and only spilled a water glass in the process, instead of two lattes, a plate of bagels and a plate of quiche.

And all that before we even got to the Kindergarten Class Dance-Party.

Which consisted of 15 kindergarteners who could care less whether cupcakes look like something out of Martha Stewart Living and just needed to wolf down some sugar before they could get down and boogie.

Which they did. Earlier in the day they’d decorated part of their classroom with a disco ball and black construction paper taped to the windows. One of their two teachers got “Who Let the Dogs Out” queued up on her ipod. The other turned off the light.

It was a kiddie rave, a kindergarten mosh pit, it was the future: and it was beautiful. Little Boy J, whose dance style included some interesting travolta-esque moves (me to his mom: does your husband dance like that? her: oh, yes, it has been known to happen). Little Boy j 2, who recently had his hair cut in a big boy hair cut, and who, when he played excellent air guitar, looked like nothing so much as a newly-buzz-cutted army recruit cutting loose on the dance floor in the bar on the base. Little Boy J3, who has got some crunkin’ moves and in a few short years will break some hearts. Little Girl A, who pogos toward the ceiling like she’s going touch heaven. Little Girls T and H and K and C, who are now dancing in a circle to Hannah Montana, and who run over to include Little Girl E, who is feeling shy.

Us grown-ups are all so scared we’re going to screw things up. The mom who, when she said to me “oh, you made valentines!” and was thinking “and I didn’t!” The mom who said “oh, you remembered to send valentines” and was thinking “and screw-up that I am, I FORGOT.” Me, who made some ugly cupcakes and was late for everything and caused a scene in the coffee shop with my crying child.

I don’t know how I managed it, but this post is a blending of both the Wry Jocularity School of Parenthood Writing and Maudlin Momhood Sentiment. Doesn’t matter. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded: You gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.


  1. Did you eat the screwed up cupcakes? Unfortunately that’s something I’d probably do – dance while nobody’s watching and eat the sloppy cupcakes too.

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