Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Cupcake

I love to bake. Cookies, cakes, cupcakes, bread...I'll bake anything. I would consider myself a pretty decent baker, meaning, it's rare that I have some sort of mishap like a burnt crust and uncooked inside, or a lopsided cake. I've been baking for about 12 years now, and I have learned a few principles of baking that are important:

1.) Read the recipe all the way through before you begin.
2.) Always use the highest quality ingredients.
3.) Enjoy the process of creating deliciousness.
4.) Share the end product.

It occurred to me this morning that this baby is by far the most important and significant item I have ever baked. It certainly has taken longer to bake this little cupcake than any other! The scary thing is, there's no recipe to follow when it comes to raising a child. It's kind of like that "recipe" of your grandmothers that's only in her mind, and when you ask her to write it down for you, she can't, because it isn't precise. It depends on the conditions and the ingredients used. Same thing with a baby. I guess I can read other, similar recipes (aka books), and maybe even a few reviews of those recipes, but there is no one right way to raise a child, no hard and fast rule. Unlike in baking, where you should ALWAYS lick the bowl.

I definitely intend on using only the finest ingredients to raise this baby: breast milk, cloth diapers, nutritious food, reading books and a whole lot of love. But that won't guarantee a perfect end result. And let's be real, people. Will my kid eat Happy Meals? Of course. Watch TV? Sure, although we do have a "no TV in the bedroom" policy in the Dvorscak house. Ingredients are really important, but so is your technique, which when it comes to parenting, is so personal. And you know what? Sometimes, even when you use the best ingredients available, your cake can be burnt on the edges, because your oven sucks. You do what you can with what you've got, right?

Of all my baking rules, this is the one I most want to follow when it comes to raising my child: enjoy the process. I want to appreciate all the moments, good and bad. Of course, it's so easy to look at your sleeping baby with heart swelled. But what about when the kid empties the contents of your makeup bag into the toilet? Or when they decide to paint the bedroom wall with poop? Or when they can't verbalize why they have been crying for the last two hours? I hope that even in these trying situations, I can take one tiny moment to appreciate the fact that parenting is an adventure, and I am so lucky to be on the trip. Plus, they make really great stories.

My mom's good friend shared one of her parenting philosophies with me this weekend, and I thought it was so profound. She wanted to raise her boys to be good husbands or partners. The concept sounds so simple, and it is. Actually accomplishing it is much more difficult, I'm sure. After all, you raise your children and then ultimately share them with others, whether you like it or not. Raising them with their future partner in mind, as a guiding principle, is brilliant. The goal is to raise responsible, thoughtful, respectful, smart and caring adults. That about covers it, no?

So, while I continue to bake this little bun in my oven, I realize that no matter how many books I read, how much I think I know, and how great of a parent I think I may be, I really don't know jack. About anything. Except cupcakes...I KNOW cupcakes.

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