Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The previous days had been sailing along. I had been feeling great and looking forward to cruising along the highway with the sunroof of the Mercedes open and jamming to Kid Rock. I had just cranked up his new "Rock and Roll Jesus" CD when the phone rang. It was Karli. She was so excited.
"Mom! I made a cake for Justin's birthday, it turned out great, it's the first one that ever has!"
I was overjoyed. I love to cook, I love to bake. I have tried over the years to teach all of the kids, girls and boys, to be able to at least make the basics. I made the decision when they were small that there would be no boxed food, no cans, no frozen, none of that stuff in my house or on my table. I wanted meal time to be an event to be shared over a high-quality, freshly prepared meal and lively conversation. Karli, however, had never quite gotten down the concept.
In those few seconds that my twenty-six year old daughter was telling me how wonderful her cake tasted and how pretty it looked I fantasized about her wearing the white apron that I had bought her last Christmas. It's white with black stripes and turquoise ruffles and pockets. She was breaking eggs into a bowl, sifting flour and measuring out baking soda. Jakob and Josiah were clean and playing quietly in the living room. Anna-Grace was sleeping sweetly in the wooden cradle that I had slept in as a baby while Justin read the paper at the kitchen table.
"Mom, I'm so excited, even though it came from a box!"
In that instant I heard brakes screeching and glass shattering. Oh I was still cruising along the highway; it was my fantasy that came crashing down. My daughter had broken the rule; she had used a mix. I had failed as a mom. She must have sensed my shock.
"But, mom, I made the frosting from scratch."
In my attempt to salvage a sliver of my fantasy I asked about the kids. Anna-Grace was soundly sleeping in her cradle, good sign. Josiah was in the living room, but instead of sweetly playing he was projectile vomiting on everything in sight. Jake was running back and forth from the bathroom leaving a trail of diarrhea everywhere he went and Justin lay moaning on the couch from the same virus.
Now I was beginning to envision the reality of the situation. Karli had been up most of the night with a newborn baby and a sick, crying family. Instead of wearing the apron she was probably in worn out sweatpants and a dirty t-shirt, the real uniform of a young mom.
"Mom, I don't know how you did it. Jake was moaning and crying all night and I finally screamed at him just to be quiet! There's puke everywhere and I think my hardwood floors are ruined. The dogs won't stop barking and Josiah's trying his best to puke on the cat. How did you do it mom? I don't remember you yelling at me when I was sick"
Now I see that I hadn't failed as her mom. My baby girl was up to her ears in diapers, dishes and dishevelment and she was making her husband a birthday cake. She was being a real wife and mom; she was looking beyond herself and thinking of Justin.
I couldn't help but smile as I realized how well she turned out. I was proud of her and I was thanking God that I have no more babies.
I did later that day have to ask what she was wearing while she was baking the cake.
"The apron you bought me."
"What were you wearing under it?"
"Sweatpants and a t-shirt."