My older daughter got home from her first day of middle school and halted adjacent to the kitchen island. The air felt charged with accusation. “Where is our first-day-of-school cake?” she asked. Oh goodness me, where are my manners? In my haze of lying around, eating bon bons and catching up on General Hospital, I had forgotten to bake. (Incidentally, I am one of the few people still living who knows that Jon Stamos got his start on GH. I am like that 115 year old World War I veteran; it isn’t a stretch to call me a national treasure).
On the way to school on day 2, daughter the younger told me that whoever invented school was clearly anti-family. I had never heard it put just that way and her eloquence was moving. “Life used to be all about families, then someone came along and invented school and then children were pulled away from their families and that’s not fair. Whoever did it was not thinking about families!” Well, perhaps not, but they were certainly thinking about mothers…in any case, I try to make the time I have at home with her pleasant, to make up for the fact that I send her to school, which is a drag, a racket and a time-suck, however…
… don’t tell me it doesn’t ease the pain if one of these is waiting for you once in a while when you wearily sling your backpack down on the floor where I have told you not to put it. My dereliction of duty was easily remedied: I baked a you-made-it-through-the-first-week cake (a week that was 3 days long but we count it as a week). I have written about this chocolate peanut butter cake and it’s delicious, brain-altering properties before. I made it with whole wheat pastry flour this time though I swear by my gluten-free version.
I remember making this for my oldest, shortly after her sister was born. It was a way of saying, “I had a baby (bad) but I will still make you cake (good).” I have such fondness for this recipe; it has seen me through so many seasons of life. This cake may be called upon many times over the years, to see my daughters through their many landmarks of young womanhood: school achievements, piano recitals, soccer games, slumber parties, first moon parties, (despite the strict instructions I have received from daughter #1 to never, ever mention menstruation) confirmations, graduations, and possibly marriage (I have told them they should not feel pressured to get married but I have to say, if all wedding cake tasted like this, instead of like sugared kleenex, our marriage rate wouldn’t be at an all-time low! Picture it with a snowy white cream cheese frosting, festooned with edible blooms).
I have heard it said that though it goes without saying that we would give our lives for our families, it’s living with them day in and day out that is so annoying. It’s true I would jump out of an airplane for my daughters (and I have a phobia of planes, flying, jumping, height, plunging and air) but on a daily basis, they bug me. They bug me, I love them, they are mine, and I say it all with cake.