Years from now, we are going to look back on Andrew’s 12th birthday and tell the fake cake story. It is one of those parenting moments you don’t forget. In my defense, I had a long day on Saturday after attending a leadership conference in the city. I waited until the last minute to buy the birthday cake and just needed a small one for the four of us to light candles and sing to him. And for the record, the person who sold me the cake is an incredibly sweet girl who I happen to know pretty well. She is a senior in high school who hasn’t worked at the bakery for long. She was working by herself and it was truly an honest mistake. We looked at the cake together and tried to figure out if it was chocolate or vanilla. It wasn’t labeled which should have been my first clue. It was also sitting on top of the refrigerator case which should have been my next clue. Obviously, we were clueless! Neither of us realized it was made of icing and flavorless Styrofoam. I swear to God it looked real and who would think bakeries sold “decorative items.” If it looks like a cake and smells like a cake…I naturally assumed it was a cake. That night, we went out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and opted for a special birthday slice for Andrew. We decided to save the bakery “cake” until the next day. This decision turned out to be rather fortunate because if we tried to light candles on the Styrofoam cake, I might be telling you a completely different story right now. The next afternoon, the moment of truth arrived. As I was walking into a meeting, my daughter called me on my cell phone. “MOM! You aren’t going to BELIEVE this. THE CAKE IS A FAKE!” Words I will remember until the day I die. How the hell did I manage to buy a fake cake? She softened the blow by reporting that the icing tasted delicious…thwarting any attempts for me to return the fake cake to the bakery. My kids took the whole thing in stride–especially the birthday boy who was cracking up in the background. At that point, I did the only thing I could do–I laughed. I laughed with my children. I laughed at my own stupidity. I laughed at the fact that this cake sat in my refrigerator overnight in a cardboard box so it wouldn’t go bad. And then, I posted it on Facebook. 🙂 I could have gone in a completely different direction. It was definitely a “mom-fail” on my part and I easily could have slipped down the rabbit hole of imperfection. The typical self-loathing, embarrassment and tears of frustration would have surely followed. But I didn’t let myself go that way. I chose to laugh instead, make the best of it and get a new cake. And this time, I sent my husband out to buy it with one specific request. I didn’t care if it was chocolate or vanilla…as long as it was real.
Archive of ‘Life Without A Manual’ category
As my kids get older, they are busier. They have lots of homework and now social lives. Football games and outings to Friendly’s have replaced birthday parties. Soccer games, swim practices, and scouts meetings are filling up the calendar. I feel time slipping by and I’m constantly looking for things for us to do together and keep the lines of communication open. Most of the time, these bonding moments are brief and will likely take place in the car when I’m schlepping them to activities. My favorite part of every day is when we share our “roses” and “thorns” of the day. I even get a turn to share with them what I liked and what didn’t go so well. These brief conversations with the kids tell me so much about their lives that I don’t even care if that moment is spent on the road. Recently, a new opportunity has come up for Jenna and I to spend time together although it is not in one of my favorite places -like a coffee shop or the mall. She has been begging me to take her to the gym where we can work out together. I bought her a membership last year when joined the school track team. She wants to do it again and get herself in tip top shape. And although I welcome another opportunity for us to connect, I have to say our gym habits are not entirely in sync (yet). Hopefully, this is something we are both willing to work on. For instance: She likes to run a mile (or two) on the treadmill, AND THEN select the elliptical or the bicycle before she goes downstairs to lift weights. I am used to doing my 30 minutes of cardio and I’m out the door. I am a morning person and I like to get my workouts over with as early as possible. She is a night person who refuses to get out of bed on weekends until absolutely necessary. She loves to work out. I don’t. She has tons of energy. I don’t (especially at night). She is motivated. I’m semi-motivated. Last night, we talked about her science class and the upcoming homecoming dance. I talked about some things I’ve been doing lately at work. And then, I started getting tired. I sat my butt down on a bench, checked my Facebook page and waited while she worked out on the lat pull down machine. I could not have made it more obvious that I was officially done with the workout portion of the evening. 🙂 It was then that I received the wake-up call I needed as to why going to the gym is important to both of us. For me, it isn’t logging in the hour of physical activity….although I know it is very important to do so. It was when Jenna stood up from her machine, looked at me and said the following: “Mom, I know you are tired, but can you just come over and talk to me for a while until I’m done lifting weights?” Of course, I can do that. I want to do that! It is what I’m here for –to talk to you, to hear your stories, to be a part of your life. So, I’ll work on being a night person and try to enjoy the physical benefits of our workouts. I’ll get motivated. I’ll even learn how to work those crazy machines that intimidate me because I want to connect with my daughter. And that is the biggest benefit of all.
Over the last 2 weeks, a terrible cold has taken residence in my body and refuses to leave. I took a rare day off from work last week to do all the right things in order to evict it from my system. I slept most of the day, took medicine, drank huge amounts of Vitamin C and then slept some more. I’m finally at the tail end of this thing although it continues to linger and annoy me. Not only has my cold taken over my physical being, but it has also gone to work on my emotions. As a Type-A personality with lists for my lists, I’m frustrated at the sheer amount of things I need to do and the lack of energy I have to do them. The fact that I managed to be pretty productive despite my illness doesn’t provide much comfort. Here are some of the things weighing on me: I should probably plan a birthday party for my son who turns 12 next month. Although we abandoned the $500 play place parties a long time ago, I still want to do something for nice for him. Maybe that will happen this week. This past weekend also marks a year until his bar mitzvah. The countdown is officially on and we need to pick his service project. We have narrowed it down to a few charities related to his interest in sports. I have a few phone calls to make and then we need to make a decision. Maybe that will happen this week. My daughter needs a dress for her first homecoming dance which takes place at the end of the month. We made an attempt to find something this weekend at the local mall, but we need to expand our search to other places. She also needs shoes. Maybe that will happen this week. I have to start cooking some real dinners because I’m so tired of serving variations of pasta to my family as the main course every night. Two upcoming trips–one for business and one for pleasure–need my attention. I have rooms to book and tickets to by and reservations to secure.