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My Husband Bought A $4.50 Cake For Our Son's Party, He's Being Celebrated Like A God

For almost 10 years, I’ve been organising our kids’ birthdays.

That’s the parties and all that goes with them - presents, cards, wrapping, sticky-tape for the wrapping (because someone has always used the last of the roll), and cakes.

As most mums know, it’s a weighty addition to the already heavy mental load, so after 23 birthday parties between three kids, this year I passed the load over to my husband for our youngest son’s sixth birthday.

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It wasn’t a complete handover, mind you. I suggested the date, location, what food to serve, where to find printable invitations, how best to distribute them, and all of the other little details the people who don’t organise the parties don’t know. He just carried out the tasks.

Anyway, it was still better than doing the whole thing myself, and I got a great deal of enjoyment from watching him fill lolly bags and wrap presents while I watched Netflix, and then cut cake for 20+ prep children while I drank wine and chatted to the other parents. But the conversations I had were infuriating.

“Isn’t this just amazing?” one mum said.

“I can’t believe Teddy’s daddy organised this whole party. You’re so lucky!”

“I was so impressed when I RSVP’d and your husband responded, ‘looking forward to it.'"

I mean, that’s just a normal thing to do when someone RSVPs to your party. But it’s something extraordinary when a dad organises the party.

I’ve always been aware of the parenting double-standard, but this experience drove home for me just how abysmally low the bar is set for men, and especially for dads. It isn’t just parties either; it’s every day.

Kelly James with her son. Image: Supplied

If I take our three kids to Coles and they all throw fits because I won’t buy them a treat, I’ll get the filthy looks and other shoppers muttering about controlling my children. Replace me with my husband, however, and he gets pats on the back and old ladies telling him what a wonderful dad he is taking all these kids out in public.

I actually went grocery shopping once and a supermarket staff member recognised the kids and stopped me to tell me what a great dad he is.

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Back to the party; it wasn’t an over-the-top event. It was literally a party after school at the local park with some Doritos, juice poppers, cocktail franks and tomato sauce, and two $4.50 Coles mud cakes. Which is perfectly adequate, and the birthday boy had an amazing time and loved every minute of it.

Even so, I couldn’t help wondering how it would have been perceived if I was the one who had organised it. It’s not far-fetched to imagine I would have been considered a lazy mum, who couldn’t be bothered making an effort and baking a cake, or at least procuring a fancier one.

Kelly's son enjoying his birthday party. Image: Supplied

But I know this: if I had organised the party and had made a big effort, my husband wouldn’t have stood there while other mums and dads told him how amazing I am.

I know this, because for 10 years and 23 birthdays I’ve been making an effort, and when I asked my husband if he’s ever experienced anything like this, he looked at me like I’d grown a second head.

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I’m sorry if I sound angry and bitter, but I made the carousel cake from the Women’s Weekly Kid’s Birthday Cakes book once and didn’t see this level of worship. I mean, I was eight months pregnant and stayed up until 4am sticking silver cachous on that bloody cake, so I’ve earned my bitterness, thank you very much.

The carousel cake Kelly made (left) and the Coles mud cake her husband put together (right). Image: Supplied

Not just for me, but for all the mums who do this year after year and remain invisible, while men do the bare minimum and get elevated to God-tier parent status.

I’m just glad I told him to bring wine to the party; I needed it.

Featured image: Supplied