For the Love of Cupcakes

by Sally on April 19, 2012

I still remember the cupcakes my mother made for me on my 5th birthday.

She arranged them on a tray and used frosting to write one letter on each cupcake, spelling out “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SALLY” ( if you look closely at the photo, you can see the little boy on the right has the “D”).

I thought those cupcakes were about the best thing in the whole world. And while I already knew my mother loved me–she showed me in a million ways every day–those cupcakes made me feel loved too.

I posted yesterday about a story my friend Vicki wrote–“Food Nazis Invade First Grade”–about a cupcake ban at her daughter’s school. Her piece was laugh-out-loud funny, but she ended it on a highly personal and honest note: Sending in birthday treats…made me feel like a good mom.

Reading those words was enormously helpful to me in understanding the visceral reaction my team snack suggestions sometimes evoke. I knew some moms were reacting against something deeper. I just didn’t know exactly what it was. The realization that I could be threatening the parent these women wanted to be–and what they thought a “good mom” did–was my Aha! moment.

Vicki was brave to say what she did (and she certainly caught flak for it from some readers). But I can relate: Though I don’t feel the same way about cupcakes at school, I know that I have my own ideas of the mom I want to be–and that some of them, for better or for worse, involve food.

I know that I love the sound of my kids stampeding into the kitchen to lick frosting off of the beaters, just like I used to do as a child.

I know that buying a package of freezer pops in the height of summer (yep, the pops with the artificial dyes) will make me a hero in my 7-year-old’s eyes.

I know that joy welled up inside of me last weekend when my 3-year-old got his first soft-serve ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles and his eyes lit up with wonder. He held it carefully the whole way home without wanting to lick it so he “could show Daddy”.

Though I work hard to center my family’s diet around mostly whole, nutritious foods–and that I also feel joy when my kids get excited about fresh, farmer’s market peaches–I can’t deny that ice cream, Popsicles, and cupcakes also play a role in how I mother my kids. And part of the reason that I push for healthier sports snacks is so that I can preserve that. When my kids are getting goodies from other people at seemingly every turn, I feel like I can’t do those special things anymore. So in a way, the idea of the mom I want to be feels threatened too.

Which side of this debate are you on? And does your idea of a “good mom” involve food in any way?

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