Finn turns 1
...and there's bedlam for Bug's birthday.
On Monday 8 September at 7.20am I recalled the most unforgettable day of my life. It was exactly a year ago that Finn was born. After 365 days of anguish, exhaustion, delight and amazement, it only seemed fitting that we should celebrate with a First Birthday Party. 'We'll keep it small,' I said to Roxi. 'Of course,' she replied.

After going our separate ways to invite essential family and friends we returned to tally the guest list – 38 adults and 16 children. I tried to blame Roxi. 'You invited who?' I exclaimed. 'But we haven't seen them for months!'

'We haven't seen anyone for months,' she reminded me.

Because our house is too small to swing our cats, we decided to split the party in two. 'We'll have all the parents and kids in the morning for tea and cake, and our child-free friends in the afternoon for cheese and wine,' I said excitedly.
'Genius!' encouraged Roxi.

The imminent birthday party catapulted us into a childlike frenzy with Roxi and I resolving to throw the ultimate kiddies birthday party. I was going to bake a chocolate cake and Roxi was going to create a magnificent masterpiece of a bug-shaped cake in honour of our son's nickname: Finnbug. There were going to be ice-cream cone clowns with marshmallow heads, Boudoir biscuit racing cars with jelly baby drivers, rice crispies cup cakes and coconut macaroons – all lovingly hand baked by ourselves. Who cared that neither of us had ever ventured into the realm of baking before. How difficult could it be?

It was sometime during the afternoon before the big bash, having gathered all our necessary ingredients, that we looked at our teeny two-plate gas oven and wondered whether one could successfully bake a biscuit in such an antiquated appliance, nevermind a cake. We decided to do the sensible thing and take Roxi's colleague up on her offer to make use of her Smeg oven, cake mixer and her expertise. That evening, exhausted from all that baking and a couple of G & Ts, we collapsed into bed resolving to ice the cakes in the morning.

We awoke after too few hours of poor quality sleep to discover that, unsupervised, we weren't so adept at this baking thing after all. I assured Roxi that I knew exactly how to make chocolate icing that would work nicely as the bug's head. Roxi watched in horror as I desperately tried to create creamy icing by mixing cocoa powder, icing sugar and butter by hand. I remembered this trick from childhood but for some reason the consistency seemed all wrong. I was relieved when she finally left to buy balloons and other last-minute birthday paraphernalia, although she was gone what seemed like a very long time. On her return, half an hour before the guests' arrival, she found me hyperventilating in the kitchen covered in icing sugar and whisked egg white.

I battled to speak. Instead I pointed repeatedly at the clock on the wall and then again at the kitchen work station that was covered in butter, milk and soggy dishcloths, but not one cake for the guests. But it was the chocolate icing that got to her. The beige concoction that contained yellow buttery lumps reduced her into a blubbering mess as she blabbered incoherently and stomped her feet in helpless frustration.

The cake sat on the table with only its bum iced and no face to speak of. Finn who had gotten hold of the bunch of helium balloons was at this stage being carried quite rapidly across the living room. He looked back at us with a pleased smile on his face. But we were yet to see any humour in our obvious failure to successfully throw his first birthday party.

My mother arrived 15 minutes later and managed to restore a small amount of order by launching into the dishes while firmly ordering my father to wipe Finn's nose and change his nappy. Roxi and I were left to quickly down some Rescue Remedy, finish the icing before putting the surprisingly appetising cakes on the table.

At 11am, when the first guests arrived, no hint of the former chaos remained. Our careful plan of having two separate parties got lost along the way as some guests lingered on for the afternoon session and only left the party around 8pm. It was a day filled with sticky suckers and chocolatey carpets and only the odd knock-and-wail from Finn who otherwise continued to find the whole occasion a hoot.

And while Finn has aged a year, and we feel like we've aged 10, I smile at what has been the longest year of my life ever to have flown by.

Happy birthday baby boy. Here's to many more!


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