Elusive Icing on the Cake


You haven’t really lived as a mother until you have survived your first mommy-shaming birthday party. What does one look like, you may ask. Allow me to offer a few examples of what you might hear:

“Oh, yes, we only use bamboo and wool diapers.”

“Does your child attend the Jewish Montessori preschool?”

“No sugar or food dye for our son!”

Last year our family attended such an event, and I literally thought my ears might fall off from the weight of collective pride pouring into them. Every mother seemed focused on a particular agenda and, if you were nearby, you were going to hear about it.

I think this is part of the bigger lie that our culture projects onto mothers: you not only have to have it together ALL the time, but you also have to make sure everyone else knows you do.

Needless to say, I have never run from a party faster than I did that day.

This past weekend, I helped host a baby shower, and I couldn’t help but ponder how little I knew about motherhood before my first child was born. And yet, I was much more confident in those early days.

In academics, it’s no secret that we are all pursuing knowledge, and it’s generally agreed that the more you know, the better you are at teaching young minds.

In motherhood, however, the opposite seems to be true. The longer you are a mother, the less you feel prepared for any given moment.

Recently, my son reminded me of this truth when, before my very eyes, he accidentally tumbled into a swimming pool at a friend’s birthday party. Despite all of the precautions we had taken and the endless warnings we had offered our son, the unthinkable happened. As I saw his motionless body – just out of reach – sink, my mind reflected on all the moments I have felt equally powerless over the first three years of my motherhood journey.

Miraculously, another mother in the pool was able to save my son before he swallowed any water. And, from the comfort of an oversized beach towel in my arms, a special child excitedly shared his adventure – over, and over, and over again.

In that moment, uncertainty gave life to experience.

Some days we will be tempted to tell the world about our mothering, and others will leave us wanting to hide behind an obnoxiously large diaper bag. I would argue that the sweet spot of vulnerability is somewhere in between.

And, every so often, you will see that little boy – the one whose mother espoused a gluten- and flavor-free existence – devouring a piece of cake smothered with cheap red icing, and you will discover the truth your heart knew all along: the perfect mother doesn’t exist.

*Follow Lauren on Facebook and Twitter.


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130 thoughts on “Elusive Icing on the Cake

  1. Pingback: Qiful – Shop

  2. I think every mother had been to one of those parties. Couldn’t agree more with the sentiment- there is no perfect mother. We’re all just trying to do the best we know how do. I don’t think red icing on a birthday cake is going to get the authorities to your door just yet 😁

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This totally captures the essence of being a mama!! totally! I love it. You are so right – the longer I am a mom…the less I “know” how to be one. I will be sharing this post…bring on the red frosting!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. LOVE this! It seems none of us moms can make a mistake or “allow” an accident to happen without feeling shamed by others. We aren’t perfect, our job is hard, and our children need to be allowed to make mistakes so they can learn from them. 🙂 Thanks for being real and helping us all to know we are not alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am not a mother but I ca empathize full as a young woman. Taking care of another human being as they grow is a lifetime learning curve. This is why I think being a full time mother is just or even more demanding than working outside of the home. Much love

    Liked by 2 people

  6. When you said, “The longer you are a mother, the less you feel prepared for any given moment,” it struck me that you’ve given the definition of wisdom. The more we learn, the more we realize we know so little. Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Glad you wrote this article in the first place, Lauren! I wouldn’t have gotten to read such interesting and insightful comments in the first place. Just when one thinks, one knows almost all there is to know – almost being the key word here – there is something new. Sometimes amazing, sometimes painful but hey whoever said this path would be all hugs and roses?? Thanks Lauren!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I enjoyed your post. My wife and I were talking about it today, we have 4 kiddos under 6 and one on the way. I would have to say no matter how many books you read, experiences you have, we have these same feelings at times. Any when you think you are prepared life reminds you a lesson is coming lol. Thank you for your thoughts! I am a new follower, consider checking out my blog and if you like follow us as well. http://www.conservativefamilyman.com

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  9. I loved this so much. One of my favorite moments of all was when my children went with some others to Golden Corral on a field trip, and one little curly headed boy, who has a very vegan mother, comes back, telling of the glories of bacon, sausage and beef that he just indulged in.

    We’re all out there trying our best to be the best mothers – a little less competition and a lot more support and love goes a long way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely! Your note made me laugh out loud. I think we have all been that “very vegan mother” at times, but when we get right down to it, I think we all know we are just trying to raise amazing little people. Thank you for the encouragement – I wish you well on this crazy, sleep-deprived journey 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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