The Fake Cake

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.  

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