Monday, February 24, 2014

Mac Arthur Park - a story about a cake

Yep.  That's the best title I could come up with.

I'm sorry in advance.


My husband turned 44 last week.

And there's something you should know.  My husband?  Loves his birthday.  And he doesn't just love it.  He L.O.V.E.S. it.  In fact, he could best be compared to the camel in the commercials.

"Know what's in 2 weeks?  What's in 2 weeeeeeeeks!  Honey.  Hey kids.  Guess.  Guesssssss what's in 2 weeks!"

All I could think was...really?  Do you want me to rent a moonbounce?  Cotton candy machine?  Wooden yard animals proclaiming, "John's 44!"


But what he really wanted, aside from attention, was his annual chocolate-cake-with-peanut-butter-icing.  Homemade.

Just the mere word "homemade" deducts about 10 points from my Energy Bank.  

As the days wore on, my husband's countdown changed.  "What what whaaaat!  8 days til my birthday!" and "5...5...5 days til mah birthday!" and "3 more days, 3 more days...til what, you ask?  MY BIRTHDAY!  YEAH!!!"

Guess what else changed by the day?  My...presentation, if you will.

We're having extreme weather, and you all know how much MS likes extremes.  About as much as I like my own birthday.  I found myself dragging through each workday.  So mentally exhausted.  So physically vibratory.  My legs gave out while I was walking through our local grocery store in search of the perfect lunch to the point where I had to seek stability at the salad bar.  I took that to mean my perfect lunch was at the salad bar.

Let me tell you what makes people stare.  A woman dressed in business casual, holding onto the salad bar railing with both hands, trying not to fall into the food nor smash her face into the sneeze guard.  People stared, then walked away...muttering things.  Yet all I could hear in my mind, through my obviously embarrassing moment of lower extremity instability, was my husband's countdown to his 44th year.  "What what whaaaaat!"

:::gotta be kidding me:::

By the time we were at Birthday Eve (again, really?), I had nothing left.  Not physically.  Not emotionally.  Simple tasks, such as emptying the sink, wiping down the stove, and sweeping the floor, were no less daunting than running miles and miles in the sweltering heat was during my sporty days.  It didn't help that I reached saturation with my husband.  Every towel of his I picked up off the bathroom floor and every dirty dish of his I loaded into the dishwasher made me hate the idea of baking his cake.  In fact?  I came to hate the actual cake.  I began to run scenarios in my mind of baking the cake, sitting it behind my rear tire, and backing over it.  Hey honey, what's that in the driveway?  What what whaaaat?

Cake.  That's what.

I decided not to.  Cake did nothing to deserve a Yokohama tire print down the center.  Plus, I'm really trying to be a Proverbs 31 wife.  Nowhere in those scriptures is it revealed that the "wife of noble character" marched her donkey, in a stomping motion, across her husband's birthday flax...loaf?  No.  I would ask the Lord to forgive my horrible, cake destroying thoughts.  Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.  A nicer, more patient, more gentle me.  The me who wants to glorify You with everything I have.  That woman does not drive over food.

Finally, the birthday came.  I woke up in the morning and felt as if my entire body, complete with vibrating legs, stabby chest, and squeezing head, weighed 600lbs.  I dragged myself from my puffy cloud of swirling blankets to the coffee maker, to the shower, to the closet, down the stairs, to the car, and to work.  I had a great day :)  I then balanced our checkbook, remembered stuff I was sure I'd forget, got laundry started, and felt like I'd experienced several victories all at once!

But I didn't make the cake.

My husband came home and looked on the counter...but it was not there.

He opened the microwave...but it was not there.

He peered into the refrigerator...but it was not there.

"I'm sorry.  I didn't make your cake."

To which my husband stopped for a moment, looked at me in order to attempt to figure out whether I was being snarky or about to burst into tears.  The answer to that was simply "yes".

I had carried the guilt for days.  I'd argued with myself in that ugly way that I do.  I told myself it was ridiculous for a grown man to be so excited about a random birthday.  I told myself that he needed to get over himself.  And I told myself that I didn't care about his cake.  But then, my good self surfaced.  It's not ridiculous that he was being joyful and silly.  He works very hard for us.  He never asks for anything but that stupid cake.  The stupid cake I truly did care about, because I care about him.

And anyway, MS is stupid.  Not cake.

Enter tears.  Enter Donna Summer's song from my childhood.  Someone may have left the cake out in the rain.  They may never have that recipe again.  But at least they baked it in the first place...which made me cry more.

Fast forward a day.

My son has this wonderful, amazing, beautiful friend.  And she loves to bake.  And she bakes really well.  And she came over.  And you know what?

She and my son made the cake.  The cake that's half gone.  Or half full, depending on how you interpret a cake plate.

This time, my tears were those of gratitude.

I stood at the sink, washing their used dishes and utensils, replaying their laughter in my mind, giving thanks to God for a pair of 14yr olds who would rather do something for someone else than have actual fun in playing a video game together.  They were sitting at the kitchen table, kinda just...hangin' out...with me.  In that moment, I realized that baking his cake together and being in the same room as stabby me was "actual fun" to them.  All I could do was shake my head and smile through the tears.

To some, it was 'just' a cake for my husband's birthday.  My kind, loving husband.  To me, it was an obstacle I could not seem to overcome in the midst of overcoming everyday life.  But!  Those kids came to my rescue.  Sort of like the railing at the salad bar, but far less awkward.

Well done, kids.  You are appreciated. don't even know :-)


Muffie said...

Sometimes, I think God just puts those helpers right in the time and place we need them! I'll bet the cake was delicious and appreciated.

Tina said...

He gives us everything we need...exactly when we need it <3

God bless you, Muffie!