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My middle daughter's birthday is Monday. The 11th. She will be 3. I am knee deep in Dora plates, napkins, goody bags, and wrapping paper. Her birthday party is Saturday. A fiesta, if you will, including a bounce house, pinata, treasure hunt, and cotton candy machine. And tacos... chicken and beef.

That I will make.

Lord help us all!

I will clean, stuff, cook, stress, and be thrilled the second it is all over, but wish it had not gone so fast.

As a special gift to her, I decided that her preschool class should be included in her celebration. I happily purchased double chocolate cake mix, pink icing, and candy stars. Cute, right?

Until I mention to her teacher that I would be bringing cupcakes and got that "oh joy" look that someone tries to hide but is too obvious to ignore. I asked if cupcakes were bad and she properly said, "Oh no they are fine! A little messy but fiiinneeee."

Uh huh - fine like if I had to shove my hiney into Spanx everyday fine.

Great in theory, bad in execution!

So, I asked around. Apparently, teachers loathe cupcakes. They are messy, hard to eat and just add a whole world of work to their day.

I nix the idea and buy cookie dough, courtesy of my personal chef Nestle, and get to work baking - burning - them. I ice them with the thinest layer of pink icing, really just enough to make the stars stick, and pray that the teachers see my effort to make their lives easier. In the back of my mind, I know I will be cursed and should throw them all away and send Ritz crackers.

But I want my daughter to have something special. Because even though living with me is the most wonderful thing in the world, she needs a memory out of house.

So I make the cookies, stuff 10 goody bags for the kids in her class, and stare at it all for at least 10 minutes. How in the world am I going to get three girls, two backpacks, a stroller, two lunches, a batch of cookies and ten goody bags into the school?

I have no idea.

Thirty minutes pass, an hour, a few hours. I am stumped. I need a box lid, a cute bag that I won't need back, or four hands. I have none of these.

I entertain the idea of scratching it all, handing the kids all a buck and telling them it's money for The Great American Cookie Company, but that seems so... predictable? Rude? Cheap?

As I pass the pile of treats for the 57th time, I decide that I will just have to make two trips. One with the kids and one with the stroller and goodies. Regardless, it will not be a fun morning.

But, I will look like a good Mom - I hope. An attentive, doting, hard working at being a Mom, Mom. I think the teachers will be impressed with the effort I put into my 3 year old's birthday, and the Mother's picking up their kids and hearing about the goody bags for Sarah's birthday will be excited. A little irritated maybe because now they have junky toys to clean up, but still somewhat happy that their child had something special in their day. I know I would. And I would want to hear all about the pink iced cooking with the little stars.

And how the teachers still used an entire box of wipes cleaning off 10 kids after lunch.

But I wonder if they will know that the cookies are pre- made spoon out cookies, not homemade, and that the icing and stars were choices Sarah made and her Mommy had never considered? Will they know that the goody bags were a last minute throw together with left over bags for her party because her Mom forgot to count the school kids in her original shopping trip?

Will they know that I am just faking it? Faking planning ahead, having it all together, and trying to overachieve what I really am underachieving? Will they know that the smile and laugh hide my insecurities about whether or not I am even doing this Motherhood thing correctly?

Probably not. Because if other Mother's are anything like me, they are too wrapped up in where they have to be, what they have to do, and who needs a hug to worry about what I am to them.

So I guess I'll just keep faking it. I figure I'll have to do that for a while. Put my best foot forward with tattered shoes. Pretend I have a clue when I don't even have a case. Act the part that was so obviously written for someone else.

I figure I'll have to fake it until graduation... Megan's graduation.

And then I can return to the happy go lucky, never pays attention, last minute decision making woman I know and love. No cares in the world, all about me, overly sensitive and analytical, under prepared and always lagging. Terribly bad at spelling.

Who is more like the woman making a second trip with treats for her daughter than she would like to admit.

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