posted Monday June 4th, 2012

“Hey Sophie,” I asked a few days before her birthday party last month. “How many layers do you want your cake to be?”

Then I held my breath.

Prior to that, the tallest cake I’d ever made in my life was two layers — and it was lopsided. But I was feeling ambitious (thanks a lot, Pinterest) so I was thinking three or maybe four layers, in different shades of purple. (Sophie’s favorite — I’ll post pictures of her purple party — thanks again, Pinterest — later.)

She didn’t look up from her dinner. “Nine,” she said, around a mouthful of sticky rice.

I looked at Annabelle, panicked. She shrugged. “She said nine, Mom.” DUH. Ninth birthday, nine layers.

“At least she’s not turning 13,” I muttered to myself as I left the kitchen, shaking my head.

So nine it was. Two days, four boxes of cake mix (well, six, if you want to get technical, though the last two didn’t made it far) and almost seven pounds (!) of butter cream frosting later, I had nine layers stacked. Nine too-thick, falling apart, why-not-just-give-up disasters.  I managed to swipe some frosting across the top, but the sides were out of the question, and even at that (and with skewers — lots of skewers) the whole thing started to tilt.

Like a scientist, I took a picture every few minutes to confirm the impending avalanche and decided to take action.

So the girls watched as I salvaged what I could, peeling,  scooping and grabbing at layers (four entire layers wound up in the trash after a wise decision was made to forgo cake pops) til I had a structure I was confident would make it to the party. I iced the whole cake with the little bit of frosting left and stepped back to admire it.

By just about anyone else’s standards, the thing was a mess. But to me, it was beautiful. The truth is that I never expected to get more than three layers — and here I was with five. Not bad.

As I raced around the house, getting ready for the party, it occurred to me that making that cake was a little like raising Sophie has been. If I’d never expected to get past two or three layers, I never would have. By going for it, I wound up doing far better than I’d imagined.

And you might think it a trite comparison (if you’ve never to make a nine-layer cake) but the truth is that as with that cake, it’s been Sophie herself who has pushed do things we never thought she could. (And pushed me to do the same, though that’s a separate post.)

That’s what it’s been like with Sophie, her whole life. It never occurred to her that she shouldn’t read, talk, run, dance or make a best friend — even though I worried hard about each. And yes, she’s still hard to understand at times, runs like a wind-up toy and lavishes her BFF with the kind of love most kids never give (or get — Sophie was smart enough to pick a little girl who can handle that). It’s all done Sophie-style. And it’s all awesome.

Nine won’t look the same on Sophie as it does on other kids. (No two kids are alike anytime, in any case.) But she’ll wear it well — even if a couple layers have to come down here and there to make math easier or keep her in basic swimming lessons a little longer. And I need to remember that that’s okay.

That silly cake wasn’t perfect, even at five measly layers. But as I lit the candles and watched Sophie make a wish, it was the most beautiful cake I’d ever seen.

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Tags: Filed under: birthday parties by Amysilverman

9 Responses to “Layers”

  1. Yes!

  2. You rock mama.

  3. Brilliant,,,and that cake was gorgeous especially when cut!!!

  4. Love this. Love you.

  5. Lovely Amy – lovely Sophie – lovely cake!

  6. Beautiful.

  7. Magnificent! You are doing just what you should be and I’m proud to know you and the whole family.

  8. I stumbled upon your blog somehow – I think through a mutual friend. I love how open you are about the successes and challenges of parenting. I’ll become a first-time mom in July and I hope I have as much fun parenting as you do. And I hope I always learn as much as possible from the hard days.

    It’s easy to see (read) that you’re a great mom and you’ve really inspired this newbie.

  9. Beautiful post, beautiful cake, beautiful Sophie.

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