...there are fairy tale moments. Enjoy them. It's marvelous when everything seems to be coming out great, and is photo-worthy so you can show your friends and relatives that you've got this thing under control.
But there are also those times, especially when the kids are really young, I think, that everything is difficult. It's all new territory. So the best you can do is toss a store-bought candle on a nine-inch round and try to ignore all the crumbs mixed in with the frosting.
With age, and with subsequent children, comes wisdom. You just can't do it all! I got this cake at Costco, where I also learned how to discount shop AND push four kids in a cart.
Taking the easy way out doesn't always pay off, but that's okay. It may save you some stress, but you'll have to learn to lower your ideals and "get what you get." Even though the cashier at Baskin Robbins was clearly NOT a decorator, and her words were far from poetic, or even heartfelt - she did get the job done. And it's hard to go wrong with an ice-cream cake.
Be grateful for your husband's help. I can't make a teepee. I can't even always make dinner. But my husband is my right-hand man. He always comes through in a pinch. Heck, he always comes through even when it's not in a pinch.
Sometimes your best efforts turn out like poop. And you want to sigh and throw the whole thing in the trash. But it turns out your kids are happy and pleased and don't seem to think anything is amiss. This is eye-opening. Stop being so hard on yourself!
Planning ahead can save the day! So can your friends and family. Before I could get this cake decorated, I started to miscarry my eighth pregnancy. Thankfully, my husband had already assembled the doll stickers and my sister-in-law and my treasured friend from across the street put the cake together and managed the whole party while I sat in a chair and tried to smile.
Enlist the help of professionals! You know, professionals like the folks at Williams-Sonoma. Or a marriage and family therapist. Whichever is needed. I've used both. These cupcakes are thanks to stencils from the pros at Williams-Sonoma.
It's okay to repeat some of the things your parents did. I don't know why, but when I turned five, I had a cake decorated with forest animals and a ballerina. It made no sense! My mom was probably responding to an idea my little five year-old brain had concocted. Kudos to her. And years later, for my own daughter's fifth - I did the same. She absolutely loved it.
Don't freak out. My almost four year-old changed his mind about a birthday theme nearly every day. When it was time to send out the invitations, I just went ahead with all four of his favorites.
There you have it. Every piece of advice given in bold italics above can apply to mothering and cake decorating. Consider yourself equipped to handle parenting responsibilities as well as birthday commemoration. Glad I could help.