We had a baby. Then we had some cakes.
It's hard to sum up the first year of being a parent. It was, at various times, tiring and stressful and boring and exhilarating and hilarious and hard. Time moved slow, like a glacier, but also incredibly fast, like a person sliding down the side of a glacier.
Having a kid was monumental. Life-changing. The biggest thing I have ever done. But despite how important the year was, I already find myself forgetting small parts of it. The memories are fading. Maybe because there were so damn many memorable moments. There's no possible way I can keep them all.
But I will remember these cakes. We had twelve of them — one for each month of the first year of Freddie's life. Collectively, they form signposts on the journey of the last twelve months. They will, I hope, help me recall the little things.
To test that theory, let's look back at each one. For my other job, I made a Year in Charts. For this job — my being-a-dad job — let's do a Year In Cakes.
The Cake: Birthday Cake from Butter Baker (Toronto, ON)
The Month: Deep in the middle of an Omicron-induced lockdown, we turned to cake, starting a strange-but-enduring tradition. We just knew, at first bite, that monthly cake was a darn good idea.
Freddie Status: 100% potato. We could let him lay on top of a table without worrying that he would roll off. He didn't even attempt to grab the cake. This wouldn't last.
The Cake: White Chocolate & Berry Cake from Butter Baker (Toronto, ON)
The Month: Conditions improved. We ventured outside more. Even travelled a bit. I went back to work, though, with my job, "work" probably deserves to be in quotes.
Freddie Status: 90% potato. Still potato-like but a more expressive potato. He started to smile and react to things. We could still put a whole-ass cake beside him without worry that he'd instantly destroy it, but the times were changing.
The Cake: Dalgona Coffee Cake from Butter Baker (Toronto, ON)
The Month: Erin went back to work, for a week. Freddie's grandma (Nova Scotia edition) came to visit. She and Freddie had their own books competition, declaring Goodnight Moon to be the book every baby should read this year after it beat out four other competitors.
Freddie Status: 0% potato, 100% baby. Suddenly not a potato at all, but a full-blown tiny person with expressions and feelings. Things got harder, but more fun.
The Cake: Tiramisu from Butter Baker (Toronto, ON)
The Month: We did battle with Eczema, ultimately (mostly) prevailing. Freddie got to visit his great-grandparents, which is not something all kids get a chance to do. He moved out of his ridiculously-expensive smart bassinet into a crib, which made us nervous but, it turns out, needlessly so. He took to it like a champ.
Freddie Status: 90% baby, 10% toddler. This was the first month where it was clear we could not pose him too near the cake, or the cake would get destroyed.
The Cake: French Vanilla from Molly's Bistro Bakery (Minden Hills, ON)
The Month: Freddie's first monthly birthday on the road. We visited my parents for a few days. Freddie went for his first boat ride. He cried and then fell asleep. Everyone's a critic. Solid food entered the picture and then was thrown on the floor repeatedly.
Freddie Status: 80% baby, 20% toddler. Nothing is safe from his grasp, and — beware! — he's showing signs of being ambulatory.
The Cake: Cookies & Cream from Bobette & Belle (Toronto, ON)
The Month: See how big that cake is? That's no trick of perspective. This was a giant cake. You know that adage, "you can't have too much of a good thing"? I am here to tell you that, yes, you can. You can have too much cake. Freddie spent much of the month in his stand-up play centre, no longer content to just lay around all day.
Freddie Status: 75% baby, 25% toddler
The Cake: Orange Spider-Man Cake from Dairy Queen (Digby, NS)
The Month: Freddie celebrated another monthly birthday on the road, as we ventured — on an airplane! — to his ancestral homeland of Digby, Nova Scotia. This was the first of the cakes he tasted. It did not stay in his stomach for long.
Freddie Status: 70% baby, 30% toddler. Soon after we got home, he perfected his "army crawl." I ordered baby gates the same day. Suddenly, he wouldn't stay where we put him.
The Cake: Salted Caramel from Bobette & Belle (Toronto, ON)
The Month: The dog days of summer and Erin's final month of parental leave. Freddie developed a serious appreciation for the swings at the park. Just before September rolled around, he suddenly started pulling himself up to a standing position. What the hell.
Freddie Status: 60% baby, 40% toddler. Seeing your kid as a biped is a major shift. It's like, whoa, he's tall. He's got verticality!
The Cake: Chocolate Hazelnut from Bobette & Belle (Toronto, ON)
The Month: The kid started daycare, venturing out into the world. For the first time in a long time, I found myself all alone in the house in the middle of the day. It was strange. But also, you know, amazing. Photos from this month show Freddie as something approximating a pinball, just moving from place to place at lightning speed.
Freddie Status: 50% baby, 40% toddler, 10% pure concentrated energy that can't be contained.
The Cake: Special Occasion cake from Bobette & Belle (Toronto, ON)
The Month: If you've been wondering why I haven't found time to post new Dadblogs on this Dadblog for a while, the reason is simple: starting in October, the daycare plagues came. A long gauntlet of colds and fevers and ear infections. I assumed, with great arrogance, that all those tales of daycare-induced illnesses were overstated, and we'd avoid the worst of it. Not so. We had trials. We had tribulations. But, you know, we survived.
Freddie Status: 100% germs.
The Cake: Chocolate from Molly's Bistro Bakery (Minden Hills, ON)
The Month: Another birthday on the road. The worst of the daycare illnesses had — mercifully — passed. Freddie started to enjoy multi-week-long stretches at daycare without any sick days. We took another trip to see my parents, marking the occasion with our second-to-last monthly birthday cake.
Freddie Status: 30% baby, 40% toddler, 30% strengthened immune system.
The Cake: Gingerbread House Christmas Cake from Butter Baker (Toronto, ON)
The Month: Freddie celebrated his actual birthday, marking one year of life on this planet. We got festive with a trip to see Santa at Gerrard Square Mall. Freddie spent most of the "Santa Storytime" session pushing around a stool in the back of the room. We got some great photos, though.
Toward the end of the month, Freddie started taking tentative, gangly steps as he moved from ledge to ledge, and suddenly, the sounds he was making began to sound like words: mama, dada, kitty, ball, up. New skills for a new year.
Freddie Status: 10% baby, 80% toddler, 10% Christmas elf.
We recently marked January 15 – Freddie's lucky 13th-month birthday — with no cake. Did I miss having a cake? Kind of. I missed the ritual of it. But by the end, I was definitely not enjoying the act of eating the cakes as much. Again: too much of a good thing.
Plus, getting a decent photo of Freddie with the cakes became increasingly more challenging as he got more mobile. Getting him to sit still now would take a herculean effort. Had we continued the tradition, we almost certainly have experienced a full-on faceplant into the cake. Icing and sprinkles everywhere. Pure cake carnage.
But I'm glad we had the cakes when we did. I'm glad we ate them too. Don't let anybody ever tell you that you can't do both.