One of the hardest things as a parent is seeing your own weaknesses reflected back at you - not necessarily in the mirror, but in your own children. When I see Son and Daughters acting and making the same mistakes that I have made or Husband has made, swallowing that is one of the harder things I do as a parent. And I do it often. I see so often my faults as a person coming back to haunt me as a parent. And each time I catch it, it's like a needle stabbing into my heart repeatedly, until the wound gushes forth in blood.
One never wants to admit their own personal weaknesses and faults but seeing those same faults in your children sometimes forces you to examine them. When I see those weaknesses in my children, it makes me ever more aware of how imperfect I am. It's a good humbling thing, mostly preventing me from ever becoming too arrogant or confident in myself as a human being, but it's not a pleasant experience. I was hit with one of those moments today, while talking to Daughter #1.
After Daughter #1's piano lesson, I noticed immediately that her face had an unhappy expression. Mostly I don't have patience for such things, but for some reason, I thought I'd ask. "What's wrong? Did something not good happen in your piano lesson?"
"No. It was a good lesson."
"Okay, then why do you look so unhappy?"
There was a very long pregnant pause and then the words splashed out, "I don't want my sister to be in my swim class."
On Tuesday, we had learned that Daughter #2, was passed up to the next level of swimming, putting her in the same class as Daughter #1. Daughter #1's appeared to be happy about it when I told her on Tuesday, but clearly something didn't sit right with her.
"Why don't you want her to be in the same swim class?"
"I just don't. I just don't. I don't like it. She's my pesky little sister. I don't want her in the same class."
And then I had a flashback to when I was a young child, and I had a pesky younger brother tailing after me. Although he was more than two years younger, there came a point when I could not longer claim superiority over him as an older sister. He started swimming better than I did, could play tennis better than I, and had an intellectual ability that I couldn't really match. He read at a much younger age, won numerous academic awards, and all in all was the younger brother who nipped at my feet and eventually overtook me. And I HATED him for it for a while. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just let me the bigger, better, older sister. I was frustrated that I had to compete with someone much younger and yet I couldn't win! I understood Daughter #1 and turned to her and said, "Do you feel like she's getting better than you even though she is younger?"
That comment was met with silence and then the ever-slightest nod of her head.
"Does it mean she's a better swimmer than me mom?" came her question.
I had to think long and hard about how to answer it, because I understood and saw in Daughter #1 her intense desire to compete with anyone and anything, one of my own character flaws. She wanted to measure herself against others, as much as I did (and still do if I am truthful) and it pained me to hear it. I tried to come up with some wise words, but I was silent for a bit. Then I came back with, "You can't compete with anyone but yourself. YOU constantly have to be better than you were yesterday. Don't compare yourself with your sister. I am not telling her that SHE needs to be as good as you are at swimming, nor am I telling you that you need to be better than her. I want you to be better than YOU were yesterday."
Those words did not really satisfy Daughter #1, and truthfully I said them partially to myself, but I know my own nature and how I constantly measure myself against others. It needled me when I realized that Daughter #1 also felt that intense need to as well.
When relating the story to Husband later in the night, he also had a few words of advice as well. His words were, "In life, you are going to compete against a lot of different people. And you just have to beat them all." I'm not sure how I feel about that either.
Rather than compete against anyone, I decided that I wanted to be better than I was yesterday. And I want to make a better cupcake than I did last time. Way back when, I made a strawberry cupcake with strawberry frosting, supposedly the Sprinkles Cupcake recipe. It was edible but not so delicious. I have been mulling in my head for a while, how to make it BETTER than it was before. I'm not trying to measure my cupcake against anyone else, except my own. This frosting is way better than before. The cake, I'm waiting to fiddle with a bit more to get a better texture. The current texture is dense and moist but the day after becomes dry, which is not what I'm looking for. The frosting is outstanding the day after and so there isn't anything to alter there. I'll post the new modified cake in the near and immediate future.
**Baking notes** Do not pulverize the strawberries too much ahead of time. Their very nature makes them want to soak up any moisture in the air as quickly as possible, so make sure you pulverize and immediately use them. I just blitzed them in my mini prep chopper and pulverized until it was a fine powder.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup of butter, softened
8 oz of cream cheese, softened
1.2 oz (34 grams) freeze dried strawberries, pulverized in a mini food processor
5-6 cups of confectioners sugar
In a large mixing bowl, mix butter until it is softened and uniform. Add cream cheese and beat together until it is uniform. Add pulverized strawberries. Add 3 cups of sugar to the mixture and mix. 2 more cups of sugar. Mix again until mixture is creamy and spreadable. Add more sugar if necessary, otherwise prepare to frost cake.
Learning to compete against only myself.
In case you live in a place where there isn't a Trader Joes.