When we were little, my dad used to make us homemade birthday cakes cut into familiar shapes and displayed on large foil covered boards; a Raggedy Ann doll with Oreo cookies for feet, and a big white rocket ship among them. I can vaguely recall him making the intricate details with colored icing and dotting row after row of little frosting stars to make these in our honor. I know I have pictures of them somewhere and they were quite impressive in scale as well as in concept, but it's the idea of my dad imagining and then making these cakes for us that really is so touching because I understand as a mom now what a labor of love this is.
Dad used to make us other things too, painted bookcases and cool furniture with matching upholstered chairs for our rooms, mine always pink and green, my brother's blue and red. He even hooked me a beautiful rug wall-hanging with a big basket of playful, white kittens and my name stitched in curly capitol letters across the bottom.
I love making things for my kids as well. It is a big part of our connection, a love language that is older than I am. This time of year there is always some Halloween costume to be imagined and created together... like a Pokemon Card or some obscure video game characters, and the year Athen wanted to be a Bluefin Tuna. There's also, this season, always a list of small gifts to hand-make friends and loved ones for the holidays, which the kids still enjoy taking part in. This year we have a school holiday fair to create goodies for as well.
As I walk through these experiences in my own motherhood where I can feel both perspectives, as both a mom and as a child, there is a profound sense of knowing, of loving and having been loved, discovered through one mirrored moment as simple as making a cake. I am so grateful, these days, for both the memories and the making. They feel like they're stitching me together in new and profound ways.
Athen, 2011, age 2