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We’ve been keeping an eye on the horizon for a while as Leo’s second birthday loomed. Like, when he refuses to get into the tub, finally does, and then refuses to get out, I tell myself, okay, he’s getting to be two. Or when he says “no mommy, me do!” and spends 10 minutes grunting and concentrating as he closes a plastic food container. Or when we turn around for a moment and he manages to turn the kitchen table over, just, apparently, out of curiosity. Yup, we’ll say, here it comes.
When we started planning Leo’s second birthday party the flour really began to fly. Aaron kept getting choked up about how grown our little baby boy is. Me, I went a little insane. We invited friends and family. Lots of them. I worried, I cried, then I stayed up late ordering party favors, planning activities, balloons, decorations, cupcake toppers, presents and a bagel brunch. I felt like the queen was coming to brunch, not the toddler who lives here.
The night before the party while Aaron stuffed party favor boxes, I flew around the kitchen making cupcakes in a frenzy and launched the dry ingredients into the air, making such a huge mess that I had to take my flour-covered jeans off right there, before I went to fetch the vacuum (see photo). Cupcakes are pretty easy, people usually like them, and yet here I was in my unders, looking like a chicken ready for the fryer. Making these cupcakes felt momentous. And it’s something I’m going to be doing a lot, I realized. I’ll have to produce cupcakes for Leo’s home birthday party, his school birthday party, bake sales, holidays…
Cupcakes are one of the things moms do. I chose a tender buttermilk cupcake from the Gourmet Cookbook that was super-easy to mix up, then played around with the standard cream cheese frosting to arrive at a pink strawberry frosting inspired by Leo’s love of cream cheese and strawberry jam. Very delicious stuff.
The morning of the party, as guests arrived, I was just starting to ice the cupcakes while thinking “too much food? Too little? Too many guests? Too few? Not enough for the kids to do? Not enough space for the grown-ups to sit and eat?” Leo was thinking “balloons!!! Bagels!!! Happy birfday to Eo! How old are now?!” A guest helped finish the icing job. Leo’s friends dispersed among the toys and activities, everyone ate, and I realized that Leo had it right: parties are actually quite simple. I’m reminded that our son is a master of having fun. Now that he’s a big two year old, he really helped set the party tone.
I guess freaking out, ordering toys online and throwing flour around is just my way of being emotional, and excited, and scared. I didn’t need to worry about the party, but the coming year, well, I guess it won’t help to worry. Can I just say I am a little concerned about having a two year old though? I’m trying to focus on the advice my sister-in-law just passed along: "Your job isn't to keep your kid from having a tantrum. It's to keep yourself from having one." I have some work to do in that department. On the bright side, I think I’ve probably got the cupcake thing covered.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.