Birthday Cakes and Biting Tongues


Letting kids be themselves is like saying yes to three birthday cakes. My daughter turns eleven this week (I’ll be shaking my head over that number for a long time), and that’s what she’s requested for her birthday party.

“We will each make a different flavor cake,” she says, reminding me that we need to send invitations to her two friends.

“But that’s a LOT of pans,” I respond.

“I know. And each of us will make four mini bundt cakes.”

I picture Toula’s mom Maria Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding trying to enunciate “bundt” as “BOONT” over and over. Wait, that’s 12 cakes.

“All with a lemon glaze,” she adds.

“But, honey—.”

And we’re going to paint pottery.”


“And I’d like to have a sleepover.”

I’m remembering the time she took charge of the guest list for her brother’s third birthday without me even realizing it. I had sent invitations to two of Kyle’s friends. Just a small affair. The entire neighborhood showed up at our door with gifts.

Parties energize her. She revels in planning games, crafts, and food.

Parties stress me out. I can do without the scheduling and supply gathering. The smaller, the better.

Three birthday cakes. 11 candles X 12 cakes=132! This is getting to be more than I think I can handle.

At age 10, Abby made all the refreshments and drinks for a 20-person event. The bigger, the better. Clearly, she has a gift. I just wish I could see it in this moment.

Motherhood has always been more than I can deal with.Tweet This 

The moment I realized she wouldn’t be born exactly how we had planned. The messes and hard days I navigated while holding my breath.

“You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle.’ Mothers know that this isn’t true; raising children to the glory of God is always more than we can handle.” -Gloria Furman “10 Things You Should Know About Motherhood

Letting kids be themselves involves a lot of tongue biting. Listening to 30-minute stories about Minecraft and perpetual playground drama. Ignoring chalked-up walls, markered windows, and lego minefields. Not yelling when I hear banging reverberating from the bathroom or a violent crash in the pantry. Cringing when a pointy elbow jabs me in the ribs during cuddles. Opening myself wide to the wonder and wildness in which my children whirl constantly.

They’re on. I’m off.

They’re talkative. I’m quiet.

They’re flighty. I’m focused.

They’re focused. I’m tired.

It is more than I can handle. I think that’s the point.

I bite my tongue for the beautiful sake of 11 and multiply it by 12 for my mental grocery list, just in case.

Knowing her, it’s enough for the whole neighborhood.

This post is part of the Motherhood Memoirs.

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May 5, 2016