I am desperately concerned that I may have fallen out with a very dear friend over four year old birthday cake. She's the mother of one of my daughter's best friends at school and we're organising a joint birthday party this year.
The thing is, there's this tradition at their school that they take cake for the class on or around their birthday - and this friend wanted us to do this jointly too.
Now a joint party is one thing, but the idea that someone else was going to be providing my daughter's cupcakes for her birthday was just too much. I felt the small purlieu which is the zone where I am a mummy shrinking irreversibly from beneath my feet. Making cakes for birthdays, school fetes and christmas is sacred territory in my role as mummy. I rarely buy the cakes - they must be home made.
I know the friend meant to be kind but the most immediate emotion I felt in response was extreme threat. I felt terrible for refusing the offer of shared cake - but I had to say no.
The thing that makes it worse is that she is a fellow career working mother, a devoted lawyer who herself stays up until past midnight making cakes when duty calls.
Polling views amongst other working mothers I find a similar attachment to the small rituals which assert our enduring role as mother despite our collective decision to partner motherhood with a career. Whether it's polishing shoes, sewing name tags, writing thank you cards - or making cakes - working mothers seem to be attached to small usually domestic symbols which evidence our role as prime nurturer, and which are precious beyond any rational explanation.