I can't tell you how many times I've heard out of the mouths of young girls "I want to open a bakery one day!" when they hear of my current endeavors. I'm beginning to wonder what young girl doesn't at one point have the dream of baking cookies all day.
Then I remember...I didn't.
Nope, not once.
Mom was a baker. One of the best. For roughly 25 years (though she insists she wasn't "official" until about 10 years in), she was a wedding cake artist. And I mean artist. I watched her sit for hours and craft flowers out of gum paste, pipe intricate designs onto the side of a cake, shave each cake to be perfectly level, and get elbow deep in 20 quart batches of icing. Every time teacher appreciation came around, I knew I'd get to brag about Mom with my teachers for the fabulous cake she made. I got to be "Donita's daughter" by anyone local who had gotten married in the last 10 years - and always got to hear how the cake not only looked amazing, but tasted the same.
I was really proud to be this local legend's daughter. And though from early on it was clear I had gened out to get her creativity, this wasn't an outlet I ever wanted. I thought it would be nice if one of my four older sisters took it over one day so her toils and efforts wouldn't be "wasted", but that daughter wasn't going to be me. I had other aspirations.
Author, architect, engineer, graphic designer, musician - just a few of the ideas I cycled through during the grade-school years.
But not baker.
Why? Do you have any idea how many back-bending hours were spent on those cakes? Not to mention the pressure. Try carrying the bride's 40-pound top-heavy dream dessert up several flights of stairs. No, baking wedding cakes is not for the faint of heart.
Each time I hear a young girl tell me how they want to open a bakery, my somewhat embittered response in my heart is "Do you have any idea how much work that is?" I witnessed it for the first 15 years of my life. I know.
Less than a year ago, I sat down with my mom to gauge how feasible pursuing a baking career would be - having never baked a cake or hardly even a loaf of bread. You see, I was in a career crisis. For the 2 years preceding I had found a career I thought I could be happy in forever as a missionary. And now I was back in my hometown with no signs of returning to the field anytime soon. Having had some difficult disappointments in considering how I might channel this missionary heart, I was reaching for straws. Little did I know just how quickly I would pull the right one.
The last 10 months have been a whirlwind. We left our initial conversation about baking thinking that was the end of it - I was going to have to find something else. Making wedding cakes wouldn't bring in enough income to support my husband and myself while he attends nursing school. Within 2 months of that conversation, however, we were inspired. We visited a thrift store that employed women who lived in a shelter. We weren't sure we needed another thrift store, but a bakery had every opportunity to effect this kind of real change in our community.
I'm not a baker for baking's sake or as some realization of a childhood dream. I am a baker because I really believe it's an avenue of goodness that the community of Mifflinburg needs - a place right in the middle of town that lets people just shoot the bull and eat some great food in the meantime, a place that can eventually provide job opportunities and training for the "unemployable", a place that celebrates this town and its history, a place that creates opportunities for people to really connect to one another, a place that brightens each life that walks in. I am also a baker because, whether I knew it or not, I gened out in that too, and I knew I would have one of the best resources possible for the job - my mom.
So here we are, standing at the precipice of no dream of mine. I have learned, though, that the unexpected adventures turn out to be the best adventures.