People, this is the cake i made for my one year old daughter’s birthday. It was from a box. I frosted it and put sprinkles from valentines day on it. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to pin it. You can call your pin “epic boxed cake with canned frosting, valentine’s sprinkles, and candle.”
I could say I made a box cake with canned frosting because she’s the second born, and that I threw an elaborately themed first birthday party a la pinterest, but that would be a lie. I didn’t even make a cake for Addie. My mom did. Or maybe she bought one.
My sister-in-law did host a joint family party for Emma and my nephew. She bought a cake. Because when cousins who are born 2 days apart turn 1, you get a cake with red frosting and take pictures. Obviously. The whole shebang was actually pretty cute. I put more pictures here.
Here’s the thing: I love hosting and having people over; in fact, I like any excuse for a party. But, throwing pinterest-style birthday parties for one year olds? Not my thing. It’s great if it’s yours. They’re fun and the pictures are gosh-darn adorable. But it’s not my thing (right now). And if it’s not your thing either, mom of littles, THAT’S OKAY!!!!!!! Let it go.
I wonder if the people reading this over the age of 40 are thinking: what the heck is she talking about? I’m not sure because I’m not 40, but I don’t think it was always this way. Maybe it’s having our calendars and internet in our pockets? Or 7 social media networks we check too often that accent the comparison game our hearts are prone to.
Regardless of the cause, there is pressure on this generation to do it all. We are so rushed, so hurried, so crammed. It’s so easy to go from one thing to next, kinda sorta doing everything, but doing none of it well.
Can I encourage you with this?
Stop. Breathe. Rest. Create space in your life. Pick a couple things and do them well. Let’s stop trying to do it all because we’re not doing it well. The truth is, this REALLY doesn’t come naturally for me. If you know me personally, you know I am prone to to-do list making, over-achieving, performance-driving craziness. I prefer to be on the go and do everything with maximum efficiency all the time. Ha! 🙂 I am a work-in-progress on this.
It’s probably taken me 3 or 4 years of knowing less is more and wanting to do well at less things for me to begin to default to this whole picking and choosing thing. And it’s still not really natural.
Eventually, though, as I’ve reaped the benefits of creating intentional margin, saying no, and choosing what’s important, it’s what I crave now. Hopefully, you’re a faster learner than me.
Jen Hatmaker articulates this idea really well. I just read her new book, For The Love, which you should go buy immediately.* (Unless you’re getting out of debt like us, in which case you should go get on the wait list at your local library. Which is what I did. Cool People Unite!)
Anyway, Jen talks about balance with a metaphor of a balance beam.
“Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it, and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing… we cannot do it all, have it all, or master it all… I’m not doing it all. Who could? I can’t. You can’t. I decided what tricks belonged on my beam and dropped the rest or figured out a way to delegate.” (p.4-5)
She went on to describe what’s “on and off” her beam during this current season of her life.
This chapter was so so helpful to me. She so clearly articulated this idea I’d been thinking about for a while – the idea of choosing a few things to do well instead of juggling all the things and always feeling like you’re failing.
So, when I found that old picture of Emma’s cake, it reminded me…
Fancy toddler birthday parties and cakes: off my beam.
Celebrations of my children because I love them and we want to celebrate their lives: on the beam.
[Mediocre winter birthday party idea: I was considering having a few of Addie’s toddler friends over when she turns 3. Her birthday falls in between Christmas and New Years… but the girl loves a party. I think the theme will be snow. We’ll let the kids run around in the snow while the grownups sleep inside, because who wants to go to a party between Christmas and New Years? No One.]
Time away with my husband: on the beam
Investing in a few close friendships: on the beam
Writing every day: on the beam
Teaching piano: off the beam
Sparkly clean house: off the beam
Worshipping Jesus at church sunday: on the beam
Going to a million church-related activities during the week: off the beam
Dinner as a family: on the beam
Dinner that takes more than 20 minutes to make: off the beam
If throwing elaborate infant parties is your thing, great. Will you please invite me? Because I think they are so adorable.
It’s just not my thing. My thing is boxed cakes. Boxed cakes and brownies are my jam. I have 3 boxes in my cabinet right now, just in case someone randomly comes over and I need to make an emergency cake. Come on over, I’m prepared. I will make you an amazing boxed cake.
Friends, we have to know our season. We have to think realistically about our present.
Ask God for discernment about what stays and what goes. What season are you in? What does that mean for you and your balance beam? You only have 18-ish waking hours in a day. Choose wisely how you spend your time. Be intentional about it. And for the love, go order Jen Hatmaker’s new book if you haven’t.
So, what’s on or off your beam? What’s the hardest thing to let go of?
P.S. 2 or 3 years ago, I might have been tempted to make you feel bad that your thing was dumb because it wasn’t my thing. The Lord has shown me criticizing in that manner is the result of pride. Of thinking I’m better than someone else. #honesty
Lately, I feel tired of what I’d call the “mommy wars.” Tired of people criticizing other people over things that don’t matter like what products you clean your house with, and your sleep training methods. It’s so un-Christlike and unloving. If I criticized you over something like that, I’m sorry. Because there are better things to do than jealously criticize people who make pretty cakes.