Having a child puts life in an entirely different perspective. I can hardly believe how hard I worked to get a bachelor's degree and then a master's degree and then with a full-time job I completed my doctoral degree. They were goals that I set for myself and achieved and I was clear on what I wanted. My job was exactly what I had long envisioned myself doing and I was happy living my merry little life. Marriage didn't impact those goals; it just reinforced and helped support them.
But having a child, well...it changed everything. I stayed home and raised my baby, falling pregnant again when he was just 13 months old. The career I left behind was a mere memory but my children were my life. However, staying at home is not without its ups and downs…and for me, having a creative outlet is important. I've always loved to entertain so I turned that into having fabulous parties for my kids. You see those annoying over-the-top moms who put way too much energy into hosting parties and planning their kid’s birthdays...that is me! Well I waited a long time to have children (not of my own volition but we’ll leave that topic for another day!) and frankly I was excited to have some parties to plan!
I used to plan a Multicultural Fair when I worked at the University of Mary Washington, an event that attracted thousands of people. I had to channel that energy somewhere whilst staying home, spending time with my kids in their formative years and that's when the baking started. Ironically, I purchased their first couple of birthday cakes because…well, who has time to make cakes and raise kids, right? Then I started making their cakes and I found that I enjoyed it so I made more cakes. I got calls from friends who wanted cakes for their kids. I learned new techniques by watching videos on the Internet and reading cake decorating books. I made cakes for family friends and their kids...it was a fun hobby but it started getting expensive and very time-consuming. Once I somewhat mastered cakes (I mean I have a TON more to learn but you understand what I mean) I started on cookies. This was a brand-new territory for me but I think I'm in love...cookies are portable, forgiving and so incredibly versatile. They have a longer shelf life and I am pretty sure cookies are going to be my obsession this year. That brings me back to my original thought...having a goal. Well this cake thing has kind of taken off. It's evolved...I now bake for the cafe across the street and I have two wedding cakes under my belt...along with numerous birthday cakes, cookies, cake pops and the list goes on....
I applied for a license with the state a few months ago (just to check it off my list) and let me tell you, it was an intimidating process. Last Friday, a state inspector came to my house, she tested my cleaning products, observed me making butter cream frosting, checked my facilities, my pantry (which I love organizing so I was happy to have someone appreciate that effort!), my refrigerator, and she even took one of my cakes back to the lab for analysis.
I am happy to report that I passed the inspection with flying colors! The only problem is, I have no idea what my next step is.... I have no desire to open a bakery. I love baking from home but I have been turning work down (mostly last minute requests) because I want to make sure I have enough time for my family. Balancing the baking and my family was something my husband and I talked about before I went to India at the end of a week where I made no less than an order a day and some days even more.
Baking is fun but it is also work (actually it sometimes feels like a third child…and you know how kids change your life!) and now I feel that I need a business plan. I need to keep better data about my customers and my orders. I'm setting up an Etsy store so that I can ship cookies at the click of a button...I'm doing a little of this and a little of that but I am irritated that I don't have an end goal in mind. It's not like going for a PhD and knowing that you achieved that goal. I am all over the place and I need to get it together and make a plan. I guess making a plan could serve as my next goal, but somehow that thought is not exciting whatsoever. I may have to table my plan to make a plan and just go bake a batch of cookies…now that’s something I can get excited about!