My fellow perfectionists, you may want to look away. Don’t. The image you are about to see is not exactly pretty. Lean into the imperfection that is to come …
These are my not-so-pinterest-worthy Valentine’s cupcakes. : ) I bought the liners at Williams Sonoma thinking, “I’ll make a bunch of the most perfect looking cupcakes from scratch! They will be perfectly iced and taste delicious and all the children will love me for it and my son will be beaming with pride in his mother and I will be beaming with pride in myself and it will be just … perfect!” I am not lying to you. Those were my subconscious thoughts when I told my son’s teacher I would be happy to organize the Valentine’s party (!).
Oh, man, I make myself laugh.
Reality check. Bree Van de Kamp I am not. Pride goes before the fall. Literally. We put the cupcakes into the oven and they took a lot longer to bake than they were supposed to. Any good baker knows the danger of opening an oven door at the wrong time and, sure enough, I opened the door to test the muffins and they fell into a deflated, sad looking bunch. Then something really cool happened. They began to rise again – unevenly, of course – and then a few of those clever little cupcakes decided to rise so much that they spilled over the edge of their overpriced liners. What a joke!
Joke’s on me! Truth is, I’m jealous of those of you who have the talent to create beautiful confections. I could list my excuses for why my cupcakes look like they were created by a small child – I haven’t practiced perfection, I don’t have the right equipment, I was rushing and multitasking while trying to create the perfect cupcake … all these things are true. But the bottom line for me today is that I need to live kindly in light of my mess. Perfectionists are so darn hard on themselves!
My solution was not to dump them out (more sad news … I had waited until nearly the last minute to bake these babies and I wasn’t about to lose sleep by running out for the ingredients to start all over again!). Instead, I dotted them with M&M’s and hatched a plan to display them on fluted white serve ware. As if a bunch of 5th graders care! The truth is, my life is full of “stick an M&M on it and call it hilarious” moments. Behind that notion is a bit of self-condemnation, if I’m all honest. Perfectionists know this feeling. It takes conscious work to learn to shush that internal Judge, even if you are laughing at yourself on the outside.
So, if you end up pinning an image from this post, good for you! You will have pinned it for the right reason. Perfection is overrated (at least I’m working on believing that) and we all need reminders to laugh at ourselves when things don’t go as planned, and better yet – check our pride at the door before the fall even knocks or comes crashing in.
I’m off to race those cupcakes to my son’s school … along with a hastily made Valentine’s mailbox for him to use since the one he carefully crafted last night seems to have disappeared into thin air. It doesn’t seem to be our day, does it?! No worries …
I’m laughing on the inside. Laughing at my own joke, you could say. Which is really quite fun!
Vulnerability. A gift from me to you. Happy Valentine’s Day!
P.S. A post party update: I got lots of genuine ooh’s and aah’s over the cupcakes, further underscoring the fact that
people are blind no one is as critical of my work as I am. This still truly baffles me since DID YOU SEE THOSE PICTURES?!? Obviously Perfectionism and her evil sidekick Self-Condemnation have voices that are tough to ignore for those of us who are lured by their trap. My plan is to stare them in the face and laugh louder. Figuratively speaking, of course.
AND, as an involved room mother, I always like to hear party details from fellow moms. Here’s what we did: I had the kids play a relay game. Their desks are lined up in rows, so I gave the first person in each of two rows a small bucket filled with 15 conversation hearts, a pair of chopsticks, and an empty bucket (all purchased at Party City). The object was to use the chopsticks to get all the hearts from one bucket into the other using chopsticks. When complete, they were to pass the buckets and chopsticks to the student at the desk behind them to continue the relay. Before we started the game, I gave each child two new pencils and taught them how to hold them like chopsticks. (Insert opportunity to use educational words like “parallel” and “perpendicular” which will likely be met with a chorus of low moans from the class.) They had a blast with this relay race. Here’s what I learned: 15 hearts was too many. The second relay involved the other two rows of students in competition and we only used 8 hearts for that round. The game took a half hour to play with 20 students and I was surprised that they stayed so engaged the whole time, cheering for each other and comparing where each team was at in the relay. We ended up cutting the game off with “a minute to win it” rule because they still had to eat those cupcakes and pass out their Valentines. Oh, and my son handed out these Valentines. Perfect for a 5th grade boy, which is not an easy task to navigate. Head on over to that website for lots of Pinterest-worthy printables if you are into that kind of thing.