Like many mothers with pent up creative energy – I use events in my kids lives as an excuse to visit the craft store, make a mess and generally have fun with my purely artistic creative juices. One of the things I really enjoy is cake decorating. I use boxed cake mix, canned frosting (or purchased frosting from the Publix deli)…but the tools and the artistry, they are mine all mine. When a cake decorating opportunity approaches, I get excited. I peruse Pinterest for inspiration, I spend more money on cake decorating tools and equipment.
This weekend, my daughter Madeleine will experience her 1st Communion.
She is 7 (almost 8), and we are Catholic, so this is a big deal – with a beautiful white dress and fancy hair and shoes and everything. And Madeleine is a pretty incredible kid, in so many ways. At age 7, she is the most self-referencing person I know. She is who she is, not in an “in your face” non-conformist sort of way – just in a really awesome, beautiful, authentic kind of way.
One time she was upset because of something that happened with friends, and she said to me “sometimes I just feel like I don’t fit in” – looking up at me with tears streaming down her face. As a parent, this is the equivalent of someone ripping your heart out and slicing it in a million different pieces.
The first thing I wanted to do was grab the “friends” by the shoulders and say “CAN’T YOU SEE HOW AWESOME SHE IS???”. But I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t do that, you can’t change other people – right? My next thought was, “well, maybe I need to give her more advice about how to fit in? I mean, I’ve been pretty successful at it, maybe I need to teach her some of those tricks”. But this thought made my heart sink, and make me feel sad…like it would be something akin to painting neon hearts on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. I realized this was also not the right direction.
And then God intervened, with a lesson for both of us, and here is what I actually said to her, as I wiped away her tears…
“Madeleine, I am not really sure what to say to you right now…because the reality is, you are such an amazing and unique person …and that is awesome…but there is cost. The cost is that sometimes, you aren’t going to fit in and people aren’t going to like you. I’d rather you learn how to deal with this fact, the reality that sometimes you aren’t going to fit in and sometimes people aren’t going to like you… than have you change anything at all about yourself.”
I asked her if that made sense, and in those otherworldly, knowing blue eyes…I could see that she did understand, that we understood something important, together, for the first time.
And now to bring this post back to where it started – a cake. I was reflecting on Madeleine, as I labored over her 1st communion cake. This is the amazing thing about (trying) to live a more aware life, even the simplest of tasks take on deeper meaning and reinforce a perspective and a way of life – the one I chose, when I needed to make a change.
Of course, the cake I envisioned for my amazing Madeleine was anything BUT a simple task. More on that next week, with Ode to My Daughter on her 1st Communion: Part II (The Cake)