Its Phil’s birthday. He is the ripe old age of 32. So it’s not a ‘big birthday’ as such, but it’s a birthday. A birthday I forgot.
To put it in context, it’s a Monday and I have been away all weekend on a hen do for my very good friend. I consumed unknown quantities of prosecco and gin, and after doing so threw myself around the dance floor. In my mind I was demonstrating Rihanna-esque moves and oozing sex appeal and rhythm, but in reality looking a lot like a 31 year old married mother of two who has been released for the weekend and thinks that she can still party like her slimmer, perkier, trendier, younger self. So, as a result of my exuberant celebrations I’m not on top form. I’m tired, I’m aching after a hoola hooping master class and so my patience is running somewhat thin.
I’ve known Phil’s birthday was coming. I’ve been aware of it coming on the same day for the past 12 years. I was aware that I should get organised and in fact last week added it to my to-do list. Phil (ever the optimist) even told me a couple of weeks ago that he wouldn’t look at the Amazon account so that it wouldn’t spoil any surprises.
He needn’t have bothered.
Somehow it has suddenly, out of the blue, crept up on me and it’s here. Today. Not tomorrow. Today. Now.
Thankfully, I have a get out of jail free card. Phil is on call. 24hour on call.
So at 6am I sleepily tell him it’s actually his birthday tomorrow and wish him luck writing the date in patient notes – anyone who has worked their birthday knows you will write your date of birth at least once – and wave him off from our bedroom where The Girl has already crept in and started kicking me out of bed.
I attempt to enter super mum mode. We successfully have porridge and The Girl announces she wants to go to playgroup- which starts in 30 mins – so I have a shower and get the three of us ready in record time. At play group I fuel myself with caffeine while the kids run in opposite directions, The Boy terrorising the baby area, and The Girl charging extortionate prices in the shop. I mention to a fellow mum my slight oversight, “You had better get a cake then”….
This had not crossed my mind- and yet she is right. If not for Phil’s benefit, for The Girl’s. This leaves me with a dilemma. Either I get home, stick the kids in car and brave the supermarket – jeopardising any chance of The Boy having a nap in his cot (and therefore any chance of me having a moments peace). Or, make a cake. It’s a tough call but with encouragement from The Girl I begrudgingly agree to bake.
Phil loves a Victoria sponge. Which suits just fine as I definitely can’t cope with icing and we happen to have all the required ingredients in the cupboard. Delia Smith makes some comment in the recipe about this being the easiest cake to make and anyone can do it….unfortunately not if you forget to put in the baking powder.
The ‘cake’ looks like two thick pancakes with jam and a slightly out of date dairy free equivalent cream, shoved between them. The Girl says it’s “A-mazing”. I’m confident Phil will not say the same.
Whilst The Boy naps and The Girl watches some far to smiley TV presenter do some dancing, I panic buy – utilising our free next day delivery and praying it arrives early doors tomorrow. Phil will be devastated if his new pillow isn’t here for bedtime I’m sure.
I then tackle the obligatory homemade birthday card from the children. Once again, I thinks Phil’s delight at a card with two “blackberries” made from finger prints in poster paint with the tag line “We love you berry much” will go down a storm.
There was a time when for a birthday we would have rearranged shifts, got thoughtful gifts, gone out for dinner, maybe even socialised with friends and had a drink of something special.
But some things change. Phil is working his birthday, if he gets to come home he will find left overs of the casserole he made yesterday awaiting him in the fridge, he won’t be able to have a ‘proper drink’ and he will stumble over the array of duplo bricks lying in the hall. He will see a mountain of washing up, new paint stains on the kitchen table and if he manages to check on the kids (who had better be sleeping), he will see The Boy (having face planted in to a door frame today and a coffee table at the weekend) has such a bruised forehead that he is starting to resemble something from Star Trek, The Girl – who is sleeping next to a helium balloon ready to deliver to ‘yesterday’s birthday boy’ first thing in the morning, and tomorrow, he will be the proud recipient of a pancake cake, a new pillow, a homemade card and an IOU.
I would say it’s all part of fatherhood but I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen to every dad. This dad just got unlucky, with a wife trying to have a weekend off and not spending the preceding month getting organised for it…