My son does not have a baby book.
He has a baby book, a wall calendar recapping the major moments of each month, 2 enormous 12x12 scrapbooks that capture every major event from my pregnancy to his first birthday, and this photo growth chart chronicling his first year.
When I signed up to bring fruit kabobs for my son's Fall party at school, I didn't bring in a pile of fruit on sticks.
I whipped out my drill & the box of Mr. Potato Head parts.
This year at Christmas, I signed up to bring in cookies for the class party. In my book, this doesn't mean bring in a package of Oreos.
They got personalized gingerbread boy and girl cookies.
(I won't even get started on the things I have already done/made for my daughter.)
The big question that occurs to me when I am recreating valentines from Pinterest at 11:20 p.m. or closing in on my 2nd hour of frosting a birthday cake when I am 39.4 weeks pregnant is simple:
WHY AM I DOING THIS?!?!
It would be easier to buy something cute off of Etsy instead of figuring out how to make ruffle pants for my daughter. It would take a lot less time to order a cake from Publix than make one myself. I realize this. And yet, most of the time, convenience doesn't win.
Here is why:
1. I like to make things. More importantly, I have a need for things to be pretty.
2. Nature and nurture: My projects in school were usually amazing, thanks to my mom. My 2nd grade teacher sent us home with a template of a turkey that we were supposed to decorate and bring back to school. Most people came back with popcorn kernels and macaroni glued to their turkey. Mine looked like Abraham Lincoln, complete with a hat and a gold pocket watch. I was raised to do my best and think outside of the box, or as my fellow teachers would say, "Exceed the standard". I want to pass this on to my kids.
3. I like to save money. Learning how to make ruffle pants or pillow case dresses for the price of fabric and thread saves me roughly $20 every time I want one for Emily.
4. The little things matter to people, especially kids. The gingerbread cookies above were a huge hit with the 4 year olds. When I unveiled my son's 3D race car birthday cake that I had made for him, it literally took his breath away.
I will never forget the look on his face.
Kids see the time you spend doing something for them and (if you do it joyfully) they appreciate it. I also try to take the opportunity to teach them how important it is to do things for other people. Letting Jacob help me bake the cake we're taking to a friend who just had a baby is more meaningful than grabbing one at the supermarket.
5. I'm not just making cakes and costumes. I'm making memories. Sometimes they are for other people, but they are also for me. One day I won't remember any of the silly things my kids say on a daily basis or how cute they looked playing together in the sandbox for the first time. And neither will they. At least, not without my scrapbooks. :)
6. I am a teacher. I post my stuff on facebook or this blog to let people see what I can do and be inspired. I love it when people come to me for advice on something they want to learn to make. The best comment I had on one of my creations was "I am totally stealing this!" Almost everything is easier than it looks.
For example, here is the race car cake that I made:
It uses one frosting tip for the entire cake. One.
This is a Winnie The Pooh cake I made for a baby shower.
It used two different frosting tips. Two. Seriously, with the right cake pan, a box of Duncan Hines, and a pastry bag, you can do this!
7. Affirmation. I've saved this one for last because it is more of a bi-product than a reason. The older I get, the less important it is for me to hear the virtual applause of my facebook friends. I don't put all of my projects up for display. But if I am totally honest, I can admit that I still enjoy seeing people like something that I have spent a lot of time on. I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with that, as long as it isn't what drives you.
Five or 10 years ago, the honest answer to the question, "Why am I doing this?" would probably have been "Because I want to be the best", rather than wanting to give my best.
Ahh, the lessons of motherhood. It is only a competition if you make it one.