Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just Call Me June...

In my mind, I’m June Cleaver with a few extra pounds, sensible shoes and a bit of a potty mouth.  I keep a nice house and Ward comes home to a healthy home cooked meal every night.   Ward and the Beaver have never had to suffer through frozen pizza or dinner of unnaturally orange macaroni and cheese (though I’ve have requests) and on the weekends, the Turks get homemade desserts and quite often, handmade bread.  I know, I know, as a highly educated woman my age raised  in the age of feminism, I am not supposed to  regress in such a manner, but to hell with that nonsense, (I told you June had a potty mouth) I really enjoy cooking and I really enjoy doting on my boys.  Besides, I think they both know this can’t go on forever, so they might as well enjoy it before Mom rebels. 

My biggest June-like weakness, aside from Halloween, which isn't really about making a kick ass costume for the love of my son, but for the love of blowing the minds of the other kids, is birthdays.  If my dear little Midget makes a request, I do my best to honor that.  Now don’t think for a moment that I am going to throw out big bucks on a party complete with pony rides and dancing clowns.  Ah hells no.  I may be a fool but at the end of the day, I am cheap.  Really cheap.  If I can’t make it, it can’t happen.  Lucky for him, after almost 20 years working in theatre, there isn't much his mom can’t make one way or another without a little dramaturgy and some consultation with my team of theatre professionals- aka besties.

 This year I decreed it was time to finally give in and have the dreaded "kid party".  So next week, a team of 4 and 5 year old boys and myself will be exploring the ways of the Jedi as they swing pool noodle light sabers through my living room and devour a cake made to look like Darth Vader’s head.  We’ll be pinning the ears on Yoda and running obstacle courses in the hopes of getting promoted from padawans to full on Jedi Knights.   And in typical June Cleaver fashion, I’m already prepared a week early.  But what I wasn't prepared for were the school treats.  Why not?  Because the Midget and I had totally different ideas on what those treats would be.  

Perhaps for kids, the most important element of the birthday celebration, after the presents, are the school treats.   Think about it, who didn't love to strut the classroom catwalk handing out awesome cupcakes to a room full of drooling classmates who had been waiting for a sugar high all day long?  In years prior, the Midget was too young to have an opinion so I just made whatever I thought was adorably fab and festive and he basked in cupcake glory offered up by small people feeling the effects of sugar and Red Dye #5 filled icing.  This year however, he’s turning  5 and anyone familiar with the workings of 5 year olds knows they have more opinions than their geriatric counterparts, the 80 year old. 

Due to the calendar this year, the Midget’s birthday happens to fall on Easter Sunday.  I was excited by the prospect of sending a charming, yet uncomplicated, Easter-themed treat.  I’d created an entire Pinterest board filled with bunny-butt cookies and egg-shaped cake pops.  I’d even drooled over the pastel sprinkles I would surely use on my bunny butts.  In a world void of pastels and all things feminine, a mom longs for a moment of legitimately utilizing lavender and pink. 

As I broached my choices with the Midget I was immediately met with a –
“No way Mom.  It’s my birthday, not Easter.”  

I tried to explain that, in fact, it was both but he wasn’t having it.  “I want Chewbacca cupcakes and if I can’t have Chewbacca, I think it should be JarJar Binks.  Maybe Jango Fett but definitely not bunnies.”

 For three weeks I tried.

"Isn’t this one cute?”

“No.  It’s girly.  I really want Star Wars.”

“How about this one?  Look, it’s his butt – a bunny butt!  It’s hilarious!”
“No.  That’s for Easter.  This is my birthday.”

And then it hit me.  I’d done just what I’d hated my entire life.  For the majority of my childhood, for every birthday I had a shamrock cake.  I got shamrock cards, had shamrock napkins, shamrock plates and I took some variation of a shamrock cupcake to school every single year.  When you’re born into an Irish family the day before St. Patrick’s day, you don’t get much choice.  The one year I dreamed of a Barbie cake and finally got one even that poor skinny bitch with the big rack had to wear a green dress adorned with shamrocks.  My dad used to take me for a Shamrock Shake every year as a special treat (I freakin’ despise Shamrock Shakes but I never let on) and even as a grown up in Philadelphia, every single year someone would give me those nasty Irish Potato candies.  It was rough and I never had the nerve to say a word, but clearly my offspring was not the same.

So last night after a long day of work I set to making Chewbacca cupcakes with two different kinds of chocolate fur icing and all the details Chewbacca might demand.  They took hours and within those hours my darling Midget was most likely exposed to more profanity than recommended by the National Academy of Pediatrics.  “This is it!  Next year we’re buying the *$&@*#*$#&* cupcakes!”  Were they perfect?  No.  Hardly an exact rendering of our furry friend but the Midget was elated.   And in the end, isn’t that why June Cleaver was perennially perky and why she scoured her pans to a shine and mastered a delectable pot roast?  Because it made her boys happy and in turn, she was happy?   I’m with you on that June.

So my apologies Sheryl Sandberg, I will not be relaxing on my family duties so I can Lean In, right now, rather  I will be leaning in to what I love, my family.   Because no paycheck in the world can replace the hug and kisses that came from a plate of Chewbacca cupcakes – no matter how long they took to make.

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