In the wake of tragedy, it’s hard to think of writing about birthday cakes and piñatas. The volcano eruption near Antigua shook us up – not because we witnessed any of it ourselves, but because it’s an unnerving thing, knowing a volcano just blew up a few hours away from where you live. We know that area well, and were aghast at the pictures and videos that took over our Facebook stream. The individual stories of tragedy broke my heart. So many people suffering. And the lack of infrastructure to deal with the disaster is heartbreaking, to say the least.
It’s insufficient to say that we are safe, that our house is intact. It’s insufficient to say that our friends are ok – because so many people are not ok right now. At first I thought I wouldn’t mention it here at all, because how can I put words to such a thing? But when I sat down to really think about it, this is what came to me: life can change in the blink of an eye. We may feel protected from disaster – natural or otherwise – but the truth is that it can hit anytime, in various shapes and forms. The same sky stretches over all of us, the same earth holds us here. So let’s make the most of these days of ours.
I started a blog post about Mia’s birthday a few days ago, and I’ll share it here today in spite of everything, if only to bring a bit of sparkle to this dreary day. Here it is.
Oh wow, how is it June already? In the midst of birthday preparations and blowing small noses, I’ve lost track of what a regular day looks like. We celebrated Mia’s birthday somewhat quietly, with just enough people and too much cake. I’m kidding. There is no such thing, of course. I made a unicorn cake inspired by a picture posted by an old friend (hi Kim!), and then decided to make an extra cake because, well, I made this cake last year and it was so good. When I asked Mia in the evening to tell me her favourite part of the day, her answer was “candy and piñata”. Mine? That little girl’s joy, which lit up the day from dawn to dusk. That, and the banana cake. It was seriously delicious, especially the next morning, with coffee. I got the recipe here.
A few days ago, I stumbled upon a parenting book recommendation on a blog called SouleMama that sparked my interest. I’ve never been one for how-to books, simply because I don’t really believe there is a how-to when it comes to parenting (I wrote about that here). Maybe there is a when-to. When to give in, when to hold tight, when to sacrifice. But even that isn’t written in stone – it can’t be, I think. It’s all about the day, and the child, and the parent, too.
But I digress. The book Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting caught my eye because its premise is that the work of parenting is as much about the parent as it is about the child. Our experience of being a parent is largely determined by our own perception of it. I think that applies to a lot of things in life.
Even though I fully believe this, I do struggle with it sometimes. I tend to think that planning fun crafts or putting on happy music will make for good, bonding days, but the truth is that if I’m not having a good day, the kids won’t, either. If mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy! Sometimes it’s good to be reminded to focus on the heart of parenting, not just the action behind it.