Show up. Bring cupcakes.

Cupcakes from

Anyone who knows me knows cupcakes are the way to my heart, my mind, my stomach, my bank account. Cupcakes. But this story isn’t exactly about them. But it is. Sort of. You see recently is was my birthday. I get freaky around my birthday. When I was 5 (Ohhh no, not THAT STORY AGAIN..NO NO NO Pat don’t tell the story about your 5th birthday we beg you…NO!)  yes. I am going to tell THAT story. When I was 5, birthdays were a big deal in kindergarten. You got a crown. You got a parade in your room. You got a banner with your name. It was glitter-outrageous in all is glittery-ness and I had to wait from September to June for my turn. And then finally, on June 9, 1966, I couldn’t wait. Today was THE day. I would wear the crown. I would get the parade. I would see my name in glitter. But I didn’t plan on Richard Sawodski ruining my day. Richard Sadowski, who to this day, shares the day of my birth and who will always be my arch-birthday- nemesis. I got to school that day in my fabulous party dress only to meet my teacher, Mrs. Mangum, who informed me it was NOT my birthday, it was Richard’s. She informed me my birthday was the 19th.

Huh? Can teachers do that? Can they just give you another birthday?

Apparently, the answer was yes.

No, I argued (respectfully because it was the 60s after all). My birthday was today. My mother was going to bring cupcakes. It was MY day.

No, she argued back firmly (because she WAS the teacher and didn’t take any flack from a kid because it WAS the 60s and no one sued teachers back then) my birthday was in 10 days. It said so on the card from the office.June 19. That was that. No cupcakes for you.

Well, it was quite a  blow. I was crushed. I cried. I was stood in a corner for being a poor sport. Richard stuck his tongue out at me. He got the crown. He got the banner. He got the parade. And then….

Richard’s mother walked in with cupcakes. My teacher looked at me victoriously. THEN my mother walked in with cupcakes.And then all kinds of havoc broke loose.

My teacher tried to tell my mother it wasn’t my birthday. My mother who was a parent to four children at the time, was pretty sure of when my birthday was and told the teacher that. It was found out later that the office had made the error and there was a quick scramble to make me a fast paper hat, a sign and then a bunch of cupcake starved kids half-heartedly paraded around the room desperate for the treats that were mere inches from them ,but they couldn’t enjoy because of all the drama.

Here we are 51 years later and that story still makes me nuts…not to mention the thousands of people I tell it to over and over again.  But this year, Kendall, one of the best friends a girl can ever have, pointed out….

“You know. You missed a key point in the story. Your mom did show up. And she not only showed up, she brought cupcakes.”

Now to know my mother is to know she was not your cupcake baking kind of mom so yes, my mom coming anywhere with a tray of cupcakes was national news. But she did show up. And she did bring cupcakes.

And now my mom is 83 and not in good health and this year, she forgot my birthday. It was hard. Which is why the story hurt more this year than ever. Until Kendall pointed out that way back then, even when there were many times she wasn’t the best at showing up or saying what I needed her to, she was there, with cupcakes in hand.

And isn’t that all we ever want anyway. Someone to remember us. Someone to acknowledge and value us. Someone to show up when we’re scared, or angry, or sad or fighting a bully whether it’s a life threatening illness or a big mean teacher.

Show up. Bring cupcakes. Sweeten life with a simple joy.