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  • Marie H.

Birthday Cake and Life Lessons

Art is powerful and can affect our soul. It doesn’t matter who makes it, a 4 year old girl, a 90 year old woman, or an experienced professional. It’s used to heal and learn. It’s a piece of our history, a moment of our life. It dissects feelings and emotes them to those just passing by. It is a glimpse into another person’s world.

This birthday cake painting was done by my daughter in 2016. She was 4. She had an easel and washable paints set up in the kitchen. I helped her with an outline and she went to work in the most adorable and innocent way you can imagine. We were living in our blended family at this point.

This image popped up in my Facebook feed recently. This digital photo is the only version I have now.

These are the emotions it evokes in me:

  1. Pride

  2. Love

  3. Anger

  4. Shame

  5. Self Compassion

  6. Gratitude


To me, as the single parent to my wonderful girl, I was thrilled to see such advanced expression and use of color. This painting was poster size and I felt a lot of pride.


The unconditional love that we have for our offspring is limitless. Like others, it is as if your heart is walking outside of your body and you protect it with such ferocity.


The reason I don’t have this actual piece of artwork anymore is because of bad choices and not taking the time or courage to know myself better. I look back and it makes me so angry that I let someone into our lives to influence our world and consequently come so close to destroying it. The person that destroyed this artwork was supposed to be the closest to me in the world, next to my daughter. I let someone with so many unresolved issues, anger, jealousy, and deceit into our lives for the sake of me trying to achieve the status quo. I wanted so badly to not be a single parent and to not have the judgement that comes along with it, that I opened our little world up to instability, betrayal, and stupidity just so I could have a ring on my finger. I’m angry at my lack of self-awareness at the time and what comes along with that - the need to please. The need to please people who so obviously don’t deserve it. For someone to destroy a little girl’s artwork because of misdirected rage is unacceptable, but it was my reality.


Our blended family didn’t last too long. Once out of that “sham”, I felt a sense of shame for not taking the time to love myself and know myself without a partner and for choosing so inaccurately. Character is everything, and I made such a bad choice for myself and my life. It was a horrible match. This image reminds me of the shame after realizing this and uprooting our little world for a piece of what I thought was “normal”. I was obtaining a “normal” family.


I’ve been working on self-compassion and forgiveness. The hateful things I would think about myself, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I don’t do this as much anymore. I’m doing the work towards self-awareness and not pleasing anyone that hasn’t earned it. I’m hopefully teaching my daughter what it means to feel complete with yourself. To love yourself, your soul, and your accomplishments so deeply that bringing someone into your world is always a healthy addition and not a necessity.


I’m grateful to have seen this reminder in my feed. I’m grateful to know how far I have come from this beautiful “masterpiece”. Of course, we all feel our child’s work is immensely important. I am no different. I am grateful to be in control of my destiny and to have the strength to live my own truth for myself and teach my daughter. We are forever learning in this life and I am grateful for this lesson. I am grateful to forgive and to grow.

Sometimes through art, everything becomes crystal clear through the complex story that unfolds.

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