A Recipe for an Easter Lamb’s Cake


🌷 A beautiful Midwestern spring Easter Sunday

👱🏻‍♀️ A teenaged girl just finding her place in this imperfect (kinda pretty much mixed up and not terribly nice a lot of the time) world

🧈 Some butter and flour and sugar and stuff for the cake

🧁 Cream cheese and butter and sugar and goodies for the frosting

🥣 A giant mixer and mixing bowl

🍫 Chocolate morsels for the lamb’s eyes

🍓 Strawberries to garnish the lamb (and shim up its base when the cake tries to fall over)


1️⃣ Gather all the ingredients and spread them out on the kitchen counter. Soften the butter sticks in the microwave.

2️⃣ Accidentally witness an unremarkable, all-too-usual argument between a dad and his beautiful teenaged daughter over her eating habits and her refusal to eat much at all. (Dad just wants her to be healthy. Not a remarkable wish. But not a simple situation either.)

3️⃣ Remember being fourteen years old and priding yourself on being able to eat only a single chocolate-chip cookie all day ... for a total daily calorie count of 600 calories. Remember thinking that consuming anything over a thousand calories a day made you fat and undisciplined. Remember competing in rock climbing and knowing that you had to be thinner ... lighter ... always lighter.

4️⃣ Smile at the daughter when her parents run out for a while and leave you and her to bake the cake. Listen to her favorite tunes as she cues them up, one after another; let her tell you how great Taylor Swift is.

5️⃣ Gratefully accept the honor of getting to lick the dough off the beater from the mixer when the daughter finishes mixing the batter up. Laugh at yourself as she giggles with you.

6️⃣ Tell her how delicious the batter is. Remind her how talented she is: at school, at piano, at writing, at baking, at thinking critically. Don’t let her blush it away. Remind her to let herself glow, to never hide her flame.

7️⃣ Confess you know exactly how she feels, how hard it all is, how the world has so many messages it tries to foist on everyone. And assure her that there’s good here, too. Good ... and adventures ... and things to do and see and remember and celebrate.

8️⃣ Think back to “back then.” Wonder if you’ve lived up to all that that little 600-calorie girl could have become. Wonder what this bright teenager, baking this cake, will be in twenty-five years. Smile ... because of those good things you just told her about ... good things like this cake. Like this moment.

9️⃣ Eat a big, mixed-up Easter lunch of black-bean burger and doughy Wisconsin pretzel (with cheese sauce—be proud you made that cheese sauce). Take some of the neighborhood kids into the yard to shoot some arrows. Eat the lamb’s cake afterward. Enjoy it all.

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