By Kate Kole
I made my parents a cake last month to celebrate their anniversary.
Everything was going well until the final step of transferring it to a rack to cool for 10 minutes and then removing it to finish cooling completely.
10 minutes somehow turned into an hour and a half as our baby had a blowout, requiring an outfit change and our weekly groceries were delivered, requiring what’s become a routine wipe down and put away process.
By the time I finally got around to cutting the cakes out of the pan, they weren’t cooperating. I started gently tapping the bottom of the 8-inch rounds before graduating to drumming on them as if I was forming my own kitchen band. Eventually, they began to crumble unevenly onto the plates I had set up on our counters.
My husband cautiously walked into the kitchen as I stood hunched over the golden blobs.
“I feel like I could cry and drop an f-bomb at the same time.” I said
“Then do it,” he responded. “I bet it’ll still taste great.”
“I’m not wasting one of my semi-annual f-bombs on cake,” I said stubbornly.
I wish I could blame postpartum hormones or a global pandemic for my equivalent episode of crying over spilled milk. I wish I could say it was because I was sleep deprived or because it was just the last straw I had left to give.
More than that, I wish I could say that I didn’t even care. That in that moment I could have also taken a ‘no big deal, it’ll still be delicious’ approach. Or even better, that I could have maintained some semblance of perspective. To recognize, that in the grand scheme of things, especially things as they are in our world right now, I was focusing on something so trivial. That I could have stepped back to appreciate that we had cake to eat, and diapers to change, and food to put away, and you get the picture.
But there I stood. Feeling disappointed and defeated by the baking fail staring back at me. And silly and self-centered for feeling that way in the first place.
I resisted the urge to slide the cake down the counter and into the trash can. Instead, opting to layer copious amounts of frosting into every broken crevice.
Hours later, we celebrated, singing ‘Happy Anniversary’ and laughing as we cut into the messy cake.
I felt inspired by my parents who were ringing in 44 years of marriage. I felt joy that we could be together. I felt thankful for our health.
A lot of days feel like that day right now. A heap of emotions. Heavy and light. Frivolous and profound.
I often find myself wishing that I could stay centered. That I could maintain a perspective that is proportionate with what matters most. That I could have a heart that recognizes how much harder life could be and that keeps me in a constant state of gratitude.
But in some ways, wishing for that girl to show up seems a lot like wishing for the Pinterest worthy cake I dreamt of baking.
Maybe I’m already doing the best I can. To carry what’s broken and beautiful. To sort through what’s superficial and significant. To know that there are bigger and more important things happening in the world and to still be affected by the little things happening in my world. To remember that it’s okay to laugh and cry and drop a couple f-bombs along the way.