Have you ever baked a cake with a toddler?
If you haven’t, well, let’s just say that it’s…an experience.
A cute, photo-op filled, splatter-fest, that, if you’re lucky, results in a cake that’s barely holding on for dear life.
This happened today.
You see, we’re celebrating my now-four-year-old niece’s birthday tonight while we’re all up at our lake home in Wisconsin for the Fourth of July.
And so this afternoon, part of making today special for her was to bake her birthday cake together.
She loves cooking in the kitchen, especially when it involves something sweet, so needless to say, she was having a ball.
And if you know anything about almost-four year olds, they are very independent, and want to do things themselves. And baking this cake was no different.
I’ll tell you what, the Type A perfectionist in me was doing everything I could to not just grab the spatula and make the process go a little neater and smoother.
But you know, she was just loving doing it herself. Sure we had to fish out, probably 9 eggshells, and more batter and flour ended up on the counter and the backsplash than in the bowl, but gosh darn it, she made that cake herself, and was proud of it.
And you should have seen her face when we took the cakes out of the oven.
I mean, it was a Pillsbury box mix, so those things are pretty bullet proof and will rise no matter what trauma it has endured. But she was just so excited and so proud of her cake that she made all by herself.
And as I was smiling watching her make the mess of the century, and dodging flings of batter, I realized that what I was watching is exactly like the process of recovery.
I’m now ten years into my recovery from anorexia. And not all of it was picture perfect. And in fact, much of it was a complete and utter mess.
I had an initial relapse right after inpatient. There were periods where I was battling binge eating. There were years where I was abusing exercise. Not to mention the mental anguish of negative self talk and body dysmorphia. I will be the absolute first to admit that my recovery has not been textbook.
But just like the joy and ownership my niece had with her birthday cake, I had to do the same with my recovery. No one could do it for me. I had to struggle through and get messy and fling batter and pick out egg shells myself. I had to own it.
Watching her and physically holding my hands back from helping her stir and pour and measure, I just kind of half chuckled to myself, knowing that she was owning that cake.
Being hands off is definitely something I’ve had to learn to do here recently with my mom’s stroke recovery too.
Now that she’s six months out, and really making tremendous progress, I’ve had to learn how much help is too much help. And it’s been a challenge, as the loving daughter in me want to do everything to make like easy for her but I’ve had to let go and let her struggle. Let her make a mess and pick the eggshells. Because it’s her cake. It’s her recovery.
And as much as I want to help, she’s got to be the one to do it.
Anywho, I think my niece is going to remember this birthday for a long time. The year that she made a double-decker sprinkle cake all by herself.
Fishing for eggshells never hurt nobody.
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