Saturday, May 7, 2016

she wanted the last piece of cake?

It didn't seem to matter the circumstance - the bigger piece of pizza, the last piece of cake, the Friday night movie selection, the Sunday lunch destination, or the college I wanted to attend - almost as if automatic, my mom would graciously let her preferences slip into the background saying "No thanks, you can have it" or "It doesn't matter to me, you pick."

As a child, I was blissfully unaware of the constant sacrifices my mom was making for me. It never occurred to me that she didn't want to watch Father of the Bride (again) or eat at Chili's (again), and frankly, it hadn't crossed my mind  until recently that she really would have liked that last piece of cake.


"Is there more of that cake, mom?" my daughter asked.

Just keep washing dishes and pretend you don't hear. 

"Mom. Is there cake?"

Start singing to yourself.  Put something away in the pantry.  Head to bathroom.  Anything to avoid the question.

"Mom!!!  Is there cake?"

Ugh. She's so persistent.  I'm probably not supposed to lie.

"Yep, but only one piece left."

"If I eat all da tings dat are good for my body, can I pease hab it?"

 Shoot. She even said please.

Stephen and I often joke that our greatest display of sacrificial love for our children doesn't come in the form of 3am feedings, cleaning up puke, or playing Candy Land for the zillionth time.  It comes in the sharing of our food.  For Stephen this means handing over large wedges of blue cheese or breakfast meat.  For me, it is dessert.

I begrudgingly scooped that last piece of cake (chocolate coconut cake with buttercream frosting, mind you!!!) onto a Minnie Mouse plate.  I opened the fridge to grab the milk, and that's when I saw it - my saving grace - a small Tupperware with leftover frosting.  There had only been a small amount of unused frosting left; I'd almost thrown it away.  (Fool.)  But there it was, to cheer me up as a mediocre substitute for that last piece of cake.

I was taking no chances.  As soon as Charlotte got started on her cake, I grabbed that Tupperware and a spoon and headed straight for the bathroom.  I shamelessly closed and locked the door, and enjoyed every bite of that chocolate coconut buttercream while sitting on the edge of the tub.  It seems I should be embarrassed - I mean, I wasn't even eating an actually dessert, just frosting from a container - but instead, I was rather proud of myself.

I was proud of myself for sneaking away so casually, arranging the circumstances to give me at least four minutes alone with my frosting.  And proud of myself for reaching a new level of motherhood, a level where shame slips away because silence and dessert are just that wonderful.   At that moment, I felt a sense of comradery with all the mothers of the world - knowing I fall in a long line of mothers who have eaten dessert in the bathroom to avoid sharing with their child.

It took three years, but I had been officially initiated into motherhood.

As I sat in the bathroom, I began thinking about my ridiculous behavior over the past few years (all in the name of motherhood, of course).  Some of it out of intense head-over-heels love; some out of sheer exhaustion, the kind where I'd offer up my kidney for five minute without a baby on my hip and a toddler on my leg. And I soon started to wonder about my own mother's ridiculous displays of love and exhaustion.

Did my mom ever eat dessert in the bathroom?

Did my mom ever sit on the floor of my room staring through the bars of my crib to watch me sleep?

Did she constantly squeeze my chubby cheeks?

Did she announce to my brother and me that she was putting herself in timeout?

Did she try to imitate my laugh or purposely get me to say words I mispronounced just to laugh with at me?

Did she negotiate deals where I could watch one more episode of Daniel the Tiger (previously known as Mr. Roger's Neighborhood) but only if I promised to cuddle and not talk?

Did she skip pages in the really long, boring stories?

Wait, did she really want that last piece of cake?

Far too often I succumb to a good old-fashioned pity party, allowing pride and selfishness to shine through in all its ugly glory.  I go all crazy mom, ranting and raving about all I do for my kids - the meals I prepare, the toys I pick up, the poop and puke I wiped off myself, the sleep I don't get.

Certainly all that earns me the last piece of cake.

In my best moments, it is so easy to give, almost as if the Lord has been rewiring my gut response to willingly (perhaps even happily) give up my preferences for my children without a second thought.  But just when I start thinking too highly of myself and my sacrificial ways, I find myself hiding in the bathroom with a bowl of frosting, bitter about the cake that's probably been devoured (and not nearly appreciated as much as it should be) by a three-year-old sweet tooth.  Oh, I'm such a mess.

But Jesus tends to remind me of truth in my messiest moments, and today He is reminding me that He never stops giving His best to me; His constant, gut response is to give me the best, over and over.  He never tires of giving, and in fact, I think He finds great joy in it!

Isn't that one of the best parts of motherhood? We begin to grasp just how crazy Christ is about us, and we begin this transformation process where we find joy in giving our best, over and over.

So to all the moms who have read Brown Bear, Brown Bear no less than 53,482 times -

To all the mom who play hide-and-seek every day, pretending you can't find your child even though they hide in the same spot every dog-gone time (it was cute the first dozen times, but seriously, how are you gonna make it out in the real world with those kind of survival skills?!?!) -

To all the moms who give happily without thinking twice -

To all the moms who grit their teeth and give anyways -

To all the moms who have ever found themselves eating dessert in the bathroom because good grief, we're human and sometimes we just don't want to share!!!

And to my mom, who constantly said "No thanks, you can have it" or "It doesn't matter to me, you pick."

Keep doing what you're doing.

Keep allowing the grace of God to teach you what it means to love like crazy.

You have children who are watching and learning a lesson they might not realize for another thirty years.  You are showing them how head-over-heels in love Jesus is with them.

Well done, and happy Mother's Day.

P.S.  Sorry it took thirty years, Mom.  I owe you some cake. 

P.P.S.  In case you need some cake (or a bowl of frosting) this weekend, 
here's the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs!


  1. Hide and seek survival skills, great voice and wonderfully funny. Well done Joy Becker, well done.

  2. I laughed out loud at least a dozen times reading this. I could picture it all. Beautiful piece.

  3. I have a very clear picture of you in my mind, sitting on the edge of the tub, spoon in hand. Makes me smile as I write this! Happy Mother's Day to you too.

  4. This is one of my favorite blog posts by you. Thank you for being real and reminding us of the great love we have from Jesus!

  5. This is one of my favorite blog posts by you. Thank you for being real and reminding us of the great love we have from Jesus!