Three of my earliest memories have to do with cake.
I remember my little sister's one-year-old birthday cake was a beautiful gingerbread house made by my dad's cousin. "Those Christmas babies don't have it so bad.", I remember thinking.
A couple months later we had cupcakes for my birthday. There were little, plastic, Mickey Mouse characters on top of each one. It was fun to play with something that I had just licked, behavior usually discouraged.
About a week after that we were going to a friend's seventh birthday party. My mother had made a complicated sailboat cake. It was the kind that required cutting a sheet cake into various geometric shapes and then rearranging them like tangrams to look like a sailboat. It was lovely. There was a number seven frosted on to one of the buttercream sails to make it look like a racing boat.
As my mother was carefully placing the cake into the holder I exclaimed, "Wow! You never make cakes that fancy for your own kid's birthdays".
I meant to let her know that I was impressed, but I could tell by the look on her face that I had said the wrong thing.
She calmly put the lid on the cake holder and said, "He doesn't have a mother to make a birthday cake for him" and we joined the rest of the family in the car to leave for the party. There was no further discussion on the subject.
At four years old I didn't understand the gravity of the situation.
I did realize, as I do today that I was lucky to have a mom that could make a cake like that even if it wasn't for my birthday.