Step parenting is not a packet mix!

The from scratch cakeThis is the birthday cake my youngest made for her closest in age step-sister.It was a, from-scratch classic chocolate cake that unfortunately bore no resemblance to the perfect snap on the recipe page.

But she tried hard and the good intentions weren’t half-baked.

Her arty touch helped salvage the creation, that had spilled into the oven during cooking, then collapsed on exit from it.

The icing features a chic design of a girl with a pretty dress and flowing hair, that she had sketched on paper before drawing it on flour.

Only days before,  the birthday recipient of this cake had made one for the chef, who was also celebrating a birthday. A pretty pink, oversized, cupcake with silver balls that was a fusion of packet mix and superb icing.

To me , sweet examples of happy step-family flavour. And one I wish would come out of the box on more occasions.

Parents of all persuasions go through challenging times, but unless you actually ARE a step-parent, particularly a stepmum, it’s hard to explain the layered intricacies that go into the blender to complete a family cake.

If every step family threw its mix onto the bench and was asked to go and pick one that they would like to make, I think we’d all go for the packet we know.

I say this because for all the mess and mayhem that goes into my family bake, it’s quite a simple one compared to a lot of others.

While I may sometimes wish for more detailed frosting and simple cinnamon, I have to remember that some step parents’ cakes have sour worms and guns of cream exploding in their metaphoric kitchens.

I spoke to a friend this week who explained her sister’s step-family dynamic and my goodness that is one bakery of a family.

The sister had no children when she met her now husband. He had three.

The biological mother abandoned them and the eldest two (twins mind you)  dealt with that rejection differently. One bravely, one difficultly.

The friend’s sister raised them for quite a few years before she and her husband started their own family.

They went on to have another three children, so six in total.

I don’t need to highlight all the INTERESTING ingredients that this woman tasted along the way.

Everything from rejection, rudeness, bad behaviour at school, unacceptable remarks and actions at home, clashes between siblings, conflict between parents, psychological interference or complete isolation and ignorance from bio mum, guilt, more guilt and sometimes heart wrench.

This sister is still in the marriage and happy with her husband, so as you’d expect that sort of longevity couldn’t happen without some good and even great times, of which my friend tells me there were plenty as well.

But can you imagine?

Now there’s even more spice being added to this woman’s life.

Kinda like making  a cake and finally with the preparation complete and ready for the oven, you find out, you have new ingredients to add, a new temperature setting and a completely different recipe.

Because now, after raising all these children, with just a few left in high school and some that have moved out and found their niche, one of the step children has returned.

The step child that quite possibly caused the most angst to this sister.

Not only did that step-daughter leave to attempt to find some happy living arrangement with the mother who abandoned and  neglected her, but she’s returned with two of her own children in tow and further heartbreak at the unsuccessful reconciliation with her bio mum.

I’m sure there are plenty of other step-parenting stories out there that are more involved, more delicate, more delicious and more disastrous than I can conjure.

Bottom line;  every cake is different no matter how masterful the baker.

Even if we as step-mums follow the instructions, there’s no guarantee the end product will look like the picture we so coveted.

If we opt for an quicker, easier packet-mix family does that mean there’s less mistakes to be  made but less excitement?

And if we instead go for a more challenging recipe does that mean a successful outcome is more satisfying and a disaster, more demoralizing?

Maybe we should ban all baking and insist step-kids cook toast…..

….then again in my case, both cakes tasted great, and toast too often gets burnt.

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