|David 11 years old|
Last week was David's 11th birthday. Jon is going to be 16 this summer. My boys are growing up way too fast! It's fun to see them grow and mature, but I can't think too long on the fact that they won't be in our home much longer. Mark just downloaded on our iPod the soundtrack for Fiddler on the Roof and I can't make it through Sunrise, Sunset with dry eyes. Those of you familiar with the song that have older children will understand. Those with preschoolers who long for just a moment alone may not have the same sentiment, but it will come sooner than you think.
We do a lot of the normal things that probably many of you do to make birthdays special in our home. Making a special birthday cake is a family tradition I started on Jonathan's first birthday. Although looking back I realize the Winnie the Pooh character cake was really more for me than my one year old. And that was okay. I think it is normal for a young mom to be excited to celebrate that first milestone of her baby's life.
As the years have progressed whenever birthdays approach the boys start asking about what kind of cake they will get. They make requests of flavors and may throw out shape and decoration ideas. I let them pick the flavors of cake and icing, but the rest is supposed to be a surprise. The unveiling of the cake is usually in the morning or after we open presents so they can enjoy looking at it before it gets eaten.
The boys have enjoyed this tradition. But I will be honest that sometimes I get overwhelmed at the prospect of coming up with an idea that fits both my time and my ability. They get so excited when they recall their favorite past birthday cakes (Jon: R2D2, David: Pirate Ship) and anticipate what this year will be. Sometimes I think their memories are more elaborate than the actual cake I made, but I am glad that they enjoy this tradition and it keeps me motivated to make the cake special in some way no matter how simple.
I have had successes and failures with my cakes, but I have learned that in my boy's eyes they only see it as a success and it makes them feel special on their special day. A couple of years ago I tried to make a lego cake. The cake that was supposed to look like stacked legos was leaning and the legos looked like baby colors instead of the intended primary colors. It really didn't turn out at all like I had planned. When David saw it he was super excited and said, "Wow, Mom! You even make the legos stack on each other." A picture of that cake was certainly not going on my Facebook page, but who was I making that cake for, my Facebook friends or my son? That cake wasn't a failure after all because the one for whom I made it was thankful for my effort.
For David's Birthday present this year we gave him a fishing pole and a promise of a three day hiking and fishing trip with Dad this summer. That gave us the idea to make a fish cake. It is very simple and imperfect. I doubt it will make Pintrest, but the little effort made David feel special. It is somewhat humbling to post this picture as it is by no means perfect or elaborate. My ability is average at best, but that is why I decided to share the picture. In a world with Pintrest and Facebook it is easy to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves or be so overwhelmed at the involved ideas that we are discouraged to even bother.
I certainly don't want to put pressure on you if making cakes isn't your thing. We all have different ways we make special memorize and traditions in our family. My goal is to encourage those who are perhaps discouraged about making a special cake for a family member because they think the only option is to make one that looks professional and will take hours or even days to make. This cake didn't take any more time to make than a traditional round cake, but made it fun for David. I have come to learn that the goal of making a Birthday cake is to make the birthday boy (or girl) feel special, not to impress my Facebook friends. So although this cake didn't make my Facebook status, my cake was highly successful because it made David feel special on his special day.
Do you have a tradition in your home to make birthdays special?