August 3, 2012

Cupcake Perspective

Today is without a doubt the biggest day yet for my second-born: Not only is she celebrating her fifth birthday, she is also starting kindergarten! That hot August day five years ago when we welcomed Charlotte into our family truly seems as though it were yesterday, yet here she stands before us, a self-assured, sharp-as-a-tack, genuine delight. And a kindergartener, to boot!

I had planned for today’s post to focus on the cupcakes I made to send to school today as a birthday treat for Charlotte to share with each of her new little friends. But, in the hectic rush of toting a backpack brimming with school supplies, the cupcake carrier, and my camera (of course!), while also attempting to negotiate the crowded hallways of the school with a double stroller in tow, what started off as cupcakes that looked like these…

…wound up looking like this.

Suffice it to say, Charlotte was absolutely devastated. And as I stood there consoling her and attempting to wipe away her crocodile tears, I perceived the familiar tug in my heart the Lord uses when he needs to get my attention:

“This is a learning moment, Amy. Recognize it.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the momentous days in life. How many times have you heard a new bride lament that she knew her wedding must have been amazing, if only she could have slowed down to soak it all in? As parents, first days of school, birthdays and other important days are no different.

The last week has been a flurry of activity preparing for today:

I made sure Charlotte had the perfect outfit to wear.
I filled her backpack with all of the supplies on her list, meticulously labeling each and every one.
I snapped dozens of pictures to commemorate the big day.
I spent the better part of an afternoon making special cupcakes to help her celebrate.

And then, the mishap. There is nothing like a mess of bright-red frosting to give you some perspective.

“Mama?” Charlotte said, sniffling. “Will my new friends like me, even though I don’t have any cupcakes?”

And just like that, it hit me. The crux of this first day of school had nothing to do with cute outfits or photo ops or cupcakes. It was about what Charlotte needed most from me on this day, her first foray into the wide world beyond the familiar comfort of our family nest. She needed my words of affirmation, the strength of my encouragement to help coax her to take those first tentative steps into this wide new world. As we stood there, face to face in that hallway, her lips quivering, I pulled her in tight and did for her the most fundamentally important thing any parent can do for a child: I reminded her what a special person she is, and how much she is loved.

I am a firm believer in living life like you mean it, which includes celebrating special days to the utmost. Cupcakes, handmade outfits and other goodies will always be one of my outlets for showing my children how much I care about them.

But on those occasions when the drive to outdo myself strikes and I lose focus of what really matters, I hope I’ll always remember sweet Charlotte on her first day of kindergarten, and how she walked into that classroom, eyes sparkling with the knowledge that she is loved beyond measure and able to handle anything that comes her way.

Even without cupcakes.


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20 Responses to Cupcake Perspective

  1. Grammy Goodwill August 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Oh, I’m so sorry about the cupcakes. I know you were both upset. (I bet the kids would have eaten them, regardless of how they looked.) What a big day – starting kindergarten on her birthday. And as a retired teacher, can I just say I’m shocked that it’s August 3 and she’s already in school? Egads. I hope school gets out in early May.

  2. Stef August 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    You are so amazing, Amy. What a beautiful girl you are raising. That first day of school is such a huge milestone, and her birthday too! Happy Birthday, Charlotte! The cupcakes are adorable, regardless of their short lifespan.

  3. Jeni Williams August 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    You brought me to tears, again! Such a wonderful family.

  4. Raquel Úria August 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    A big hug from Portugal.

  5. Bobbi Jo Supak August 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    You brought tears to my eyes, too! Normally, I just flip through your pictures, but I actually slowed down to read today, and what a treat! Happy Birthday, Charlotte!

  6. JULIE August 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    sob sob sob! thank you for sharing this with us! with my little ones starting school soon, this hit home. great post.

  7. Sarah August 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Awww, I almost had tears reading this!!! My son is starting preschool this year and it’s a new place with new faces, I’m a little nervous for him!! Happy Birthday to Charlotte!! πŸ™‚

  8. Kara August 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    So sorry for cute Charlotte (and you). I think it is awesome that you took the time to turn it into a positive teaching moment. You are such a good mom!

  9. Liz August 3, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. What a perfect reminder of what is really important. It sure is easy to get caught up in all the “fluff”. Hope her day was the best!

  10. Bonnie and Trish @ Uncommon August 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    You are the best Amy !! This is just precious! The cupcakes may not have been all you wanted but your love of your little one more than makes up for that! What an incredible teaching moment that you were able to walk her through!! πŸ™‚

  11. Katy August 4, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    Wow, what a great post! Thanks for this reminder. My oldest also starts Kindergarten later this month and I am TERRIFIED! Your thoughts definitely put things into perspective for me πŸ™‚ Hope she has a wonderful school year!

  12. Molly August 4, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    Oh, bless her heart! What am amazing mommy though to use the moment to teach her and love on her. Happy Birthday to your little one, and enjoy her first day of school!

  13. Arahbella August 4, 2012 at 3:38 am #

    Oh my gracious this is amazing! I probably would have just cried like your daughter. Its amazing that you can tell why this happened. God is so amazing!

  14. Sue August 4, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    What a little sweetie Charlotte is:)

  15. Kimberly Cassie August 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    What an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Rhonda August 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Amy, thanks so much for reminding me and all of your readers about that still, small voice and for being really real in a place where it’s easy to make everything seem perfect.

  17. Paula August 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    I am so sad for Charlotte, she just looked so cute as did the cupcakes.
    I have to remind myself of the current Christian song that says, I’ve got a couple dents in my fender, got a couple rips in my jeans, I try to put the pieces together, but perfection is my enemy.
    We so strive to try and have things perfect for our children and sometimes overlook the “real” details.
    Thanks for sharing your normalcy.

  18. Andrea Turner August 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    I’m sorry to hear about Charlotte’s cupcakes. But I’m honestly suprised you would be allowed to take them to school anyway. I have a little sister who will be starting high school this year, and since she was in about the 1st grade, our school corp. has had a ban on all homemade goods. They only allow prepackaged items – I assume because they have labels with all the allergens listed.

  19. Donna Huisinga August 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Mom, you’re just trying to do toooo much. Take a deep breath. They were beautiful and you both are beautiful too. That is what really counts. So great that you found the good in it instead of making it traumatic. That’s what a good mom does. registered & protected

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