The first time I made a birthday cake, I made my Dad a Black Forest Cake. It was his request--he loved German food. I worked for two days on that cake. I remember my Dad said it was the best Black Forest Cake he ever had. (I am pretty sure it was not, but it sure felt like the best cake I ever made.)
Fast forward 20ish years and I had this crazy idea to make Chloe a disco ball cake for her 2nd birthday. She loved to dance, so a dance party toddler birthday seemed just about right. I built the disco ball out of a rice crispy treat and covered it in tiny squares of fondant brushed with edible glitter.
It took hours and the fondant was not smooth and the cake was slightly misshapen; but it was pretty rad. That disco ball kicked off a tradition of cake making--Minnie Mouse, Cinderella, Superman, Cats, a glowing Eiffel tower and a rainbow My Little Pony. When my kids were little, I would use nap times to start making the fondant accents. I worked on the Minnie Mouse cake for a week, stuffing the bow loops with tissue paper, so they kept their shape. One year, for Nick's Hot Wheels birthday, the tracks went through the cake and you take the car through a loop.
When I was a kid, birthdays were fun, of course. But there was always drama with my cake. There was a shared cake at my grandparents--shared with my brother's birthday in early July and also shared with the 4th of July (I've had several flag cakes in my day.). When my mom made me my own cake for my birthday, my brother would always somehow mess it up--eating a giant piece or scooping off a chunk of frosting. It was sort of funny--I used to joke about it. But, it always really bothered me. I know it is silly, but I just wanted a special cake all to myself and I wanted someone to realize that I wanted it.
I think that is why it its always all about the cake in this house.