Monday, October 20, 2008

Mommy Cakes

I had the privilege of guest posting at Blog Around the World Friday and wanted to share that post here with those of you who might have missed it. I shared the name of a lady I met at a retreat, and later realized I remembered her name incorrectly. So I have corrected that in this post.

It's official. With the lighting of my husband's candles last Friday, the birthday season is officially in full swing for our family of six. From October to April, the confetti, streamers and frosting fly as I plan celebrations for Joe and our four children. With invitations to make, cakes to decorate, favors to craft and games to plan, it's a sometimes dizzying pace. Add in birthday parties for three nephews and a niece during that six-month period, and it seems we are lighting candles for someone nearly every week.

And I love it. I took cake-decorating classes as a newlywed because I remembered fondly my own birthdays growing up. My mother made our cakes, and my sister, brother and I enjoyed choosing our theme each year. I look back on our simple celebrations as some of the happiest days of my life. I knew then that I would want to share that magic with my children.

As mothers, so many of us are the memory makers in the family. I joke often that Joe provides our livelihood, and I provide our "lovelihood." What a privilege it is to bring our families together year after year. Pieced together like a quilt, we hope those tender moments will wrap our loved ones in warm memories even after we're gone.

As I frosted my husband's cake last week, I thought about all the women who create special moments for their families, and my mind drifted to a woman named Tonya. Tonya told me about the friendship that developed with a neighbor whose backyard adjoined hers. The two mothers had gotten to know each other as they met each day for an afternoon walk. Along the way they shared stories about their children, news of the day, and even hurts they had experienced. And step by step, their friendship grew.

Tonya was the birthday party planner in the family, and she joked with her neighbor when her own birthday passed that year with little fanfare. As they walked, she laughed telling her friend how concerned her daughter was that after all the work she had put into her family's celebrations, she didn't even have a birthday cake.

Tonya's eyes filled with tears as she revealed what happened next. "Look Mommy!" her daughter cried a few hours later when she looked out the window. Tonya peered out the window and giggled at the site. There was her neighbor bounding down the hill between their houses -- a huge, fluffy pink birthday cake in her hands.

Isn't that a beautiful image?

As women, so often we are the heart of our families. We provide instruction, kiss boo-boos, mend broken hearts and even plan birthday parties. But who takes care of the care taker?

I believe the natural choice is other women. We can understand each other in a way our husbands and children can't. So we share recipes, money-saving ideas and medical advice. We deliver meals to new mothers and look out for co-workers who are sick. Our own hearts hurt when a friend is grieving, and we take her worries to heart before taking them to the Lord. And we deliver fluffy pink birthday cakes to each other every day.

Those cakes are often presented in the form of sweet words of encouragement, delivered with the gifts of a listening ear and an understanding heart. Times shared wrap the package in happy memories, laughter adds a fluffy bow, and acts of thoughtfulness lovingly sign the card, "Your friend."

A favorite quote about friendship reminds me,

“I think of my women friends as a raft we make with our arms. We are out there in the middle of some great scary body of water, forearm to forearm, hand to elbow, holding tight. Sometimes I am part of the raft, joining up with others to provide safe harbor; other times I need to climb aboard myself, until the storms subside and I can see my way clear to swim to shore. The raft drifts apart when it’s not needed, but never disbands, never forgets.”
So, friends from around the world, climb aboard. I'm so glad you are here. There is room here for everyone, and plenty of cake to go around.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
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