It took three cake mixes, four tubs of frosting, and at least three hours of my time (not including internet research), but I baked my daughter an Elsa cake for her fourth birthday, which we will begin to observe tomorrow. I discussed the plan with co-workers and then tracked the progress through Facebook, receiving a lot of comments that I'm a "good mom."
And truly, I wish it were that easy to feel like a good mom. I often feel just the opposite, and not primarily because I work full-time (although that stress does play into this). Instead, there are the moments I lose patience, the moments I tire of the questions, the moments I forget how young she is, the moments when I have no idea what to do or say next. She's only (almost) four, and there are times it feels like we are foreshadowing the teenage years. So, to balance these moments of feeling like I fall short, I treasure the moments when I can be the mother I want to be as well as the mother my daughter needs me to be. Those sweet bedtimes, the conversations that are funny and memorable...those are the times that I reassure myself that my daughter and I are going to figure it out, and those sweet and good moments far outweigh the challenging ones.
Enter in the birthday cake. This is the first year my daughter can really engage with her birthday. We have a long list of wants, including an Elsa cake, and I decided to rise to the occasion.
I could have outsourced this (as many do), but something inside of me told me to make this cake. And I realized, while working hard to make it look as smooth as the YouTube video, that I was doing this for a very special reason. Let the grandparents gets her all of the things she wants which one day she will outgrow. I am giving her some of my most precious commodities--my time and my intention. I am saying to her through five layers of cake that I did something other than press "click" on Amazon, I pushed myself to give her something special. I pray one day she will look at that picture and know exactly how funny it is that her mother, who doesn't really bake, made this cake. I pray she will find herself making such a cake for her child and in that instant, be reminded of this sugar and food-dye concoction. Of all of the things from her fourth birthday, I believe she and I will remember looking at this cake and her saying, "Wow, Mommy, I love it!"
And that is what makes me feel like a good mom. Not the baking, but hearing what my daughter wanted and sharing with her a symbol of my earnest desire to offer it to her. One day, what she wants will be beyond my reach, but for now I will treasure these moments of sweet reward.