Don’t take your eyes off them.

While I sit here serenely knitting my snazzy new merino


and you go peacefully through your day in whichever way suits you, I beg you to take a moment to hold my sister in your thoughts or prayers… Today is a day she will be tested and only the strength of her soul and the power of planning will help her.

Today, Erin travels deep into the worst that motherhood has to offer. Her task today is risky, dangerous and not for the faint of heart.

She’s having a birthday party for Hank and his friends.

Yes, Mr. Hankie Pankie is celebrating his 5th birthday (Hank is seen below being grateful to his grandmother for his birthday cake at our family celebration. Note the infamous Hankie-manic face.) Hank is very excited, and this doesn’t bode well for my sister.


Erin has a poor track record with these events and while she is a very good mother, she is absolutely not a natural one. Where I never had to be told that a playgroup meeting doesn’t need an open bar….Erin was forced to learn it the hard way. (You have not lived until you’ve seen the look on the playgroup mums faces when Erin offered Gin and Tonics all ’round.) My sister is so hip it hurts. My sister owns a restaurant. My sister’s purse matches her shoes, my sister knows what Prada is can spot and assess designer wear at a thousand paces. My sister longs for Blahnik shoes. Erin’s hair always looks good, hats flatter her and she owns panties that match her bra. More than that (and if you are a mother of a small child this will really bring it home…) Erin has a white coat.

Erin is, I assure you, ready for a thousand things….but she is not ready for this party.

I have reason to be suspicious. Previous mothering faux pas include:

1. When Hank was three he was in a community playgroup. The Mums took turns bringing snack in each week. You know the drill, cubes of cheese, grapes, slices of apples and goldfish crackers. When it was Erin’s turn to bring snack….

She had it catered.

2. At a Parent Council Meeting at Hank’s school to discuss fundraisers, the parents were offering their suggestions. Erin listened to the ideas (selling fudge, raffling movie passes, bake sale….) and then, clearly not understanding the “family” nature of the activities and perplexed by why they would not want to make some really serious coin, Erin made her pitch.

Hire a band and have a Kegger.

3. Finally, for this year’s Chinese New Year celebration at the school all the children were asked to bring some food to have a feast. Erin, rushing to get to a meeting but really wanting to contribute, ordered, paid for and had delivered a large, elaborate and beautiful tray of Sushi.

(Yes, she was aware that Sushi was Japanese, not Chinese, but felt that it still had a sufficiently “Asian feel”, and no…she was not aware that most 5 year olds would rather eat an entire tray of sandbox sand than sushi. Hank eats it.)

Erin can’t understand why you would bake cookies if you can afford to buy them, why you would cook if you can cater or (God forbid) why you wouldn’t take the time to moisturize every morning. Somehow, despite this deep lack of understanding of, well…mothers like me, Erin understands that sometimes you have to play along to get along and is desperately aware that she needs to figure out something about the life of an average mother before she’s lynched by the other women out back of the neighbourhood swingset one night after soccer practice, so she’s throwing Hank’s party herself. She’s got a cake and activities and a sugar-hopped horde of ravening four and five year olds descending on her and her white coat and her accessorized playroom. (I have sent Megan over so that this afternoon cannot end with a 911 call). Hold her in your thoughts will you? She’s setting out the cold canapés and olive tray right about now.