Cake Boss

Yesterday my girl Lilly turned 18.

I planned on baking her cake. Carrot. No nuts. Lots of frosting.

I also planned on spending time in quiet reflection. I imagined myself walking pensively through the woods, finger on chin, recalling the last 18 years while harps filled the sun drenched air. Then I would come home to thoughtfully wrap sweet presents for her (one of her “love languages” is gifts so in an effort to speak her language…) while the scent of baking carrot cake wafted through the tidy, quiet house. Finally, I would prepare for the small surprise party with her girlfriends, smiling beatifically all the time.

You know how this went down, don’t you?

Not the way I imagined, suffice to say.

Baking? I can’t even find the word in the dictionary. My “love language” doesn’t speak thoughtful gift. Surprise party? Lilly knew weeks ago but only because I asked for her friend’s phone numbers. Sure I had no appointments but managed to work until noon, giving me no time for that walk in the woods or any quiet reflection. Harps were also absent.

But here’s the very cool thing and where Cake Boss comes in – none of it mattered. I got to see my desire for Cake Boss perfection, notice it, notice what really happened, and laugh at myself the whole time.

I’ve only watched Cake Boss (a reality TV show about making fancy cakes) a few times with Lilly (you take together time when you can get it). What I noticed when I watched the show was the story in my head, running along the lines of “I could never do that.”  I have had this ancient shame story that I’m a craft impaired impatient ditz.

But when, at 4 pm, my carrot cake was a truly homely lopsided mess, I laughed.

When I ran into town to buy a fancy bakery carrot cake, I giggled. Here is my pattern – go for someone’s else perfect solution. I watched myself buy the cake without getting down on myself or ashamed my cake was a mess. This is huge!

When Lilly admitted she knew about the party, I giggled.

When the chain on the custom-made necklace I had ordered months ago was too short for her taste, and I realized the fancy toothpaste and socks I bought her didn’t quite fit into the category of sweet thoughtful gifts, I shrugged.

And when the fancy bakery cake was too lemony and heavy, and my homely held together by enough cream cheese frosting to cause an instant heart attack tasted better, I guffawed.

Take that perfection!

Our patterns are so adorably persistent. I love my desire for beauty and order. I will continue to see my desire for perfection with humor and love.

Even when coated in too much frosting.


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Hiro Boga - May 2, 2012

Oh, I love this story! The only time I ever baked a cake for my kids (whose birthdays are just over a week apart), it sloped downhill steeply enough to ski on. They spent an hour rolling quarters along its bumpy, chocolate-covered expanse, with their friends cheering them on — it was the (inedible) hit of the party. 🙂

Yay, you, for reveling in your day, sans harps and all! And, happy birthday, Lily!

    jenlouden - May 6, 2012

    you always give me permission to be fully me

Karen - May 2, 2012

Cake decorating happens to be one of my favourite creative hobbies, but one of my favourite cake memories is the surprise cake that my brother made me. I think it may have had more icing than cake. He would tell you that the process of icing a cake “mystifies” him. But as far as I was concerned the cake was absolutely perfect … and delicious! I couldn’t believe he’d made me a cake. That effort made any technical flaws completely irrelevant. I’m sure your daughter felt the same way. Besides, carrot cake can never have too much cream cheese frosting =)

    jenlouden - May 6, 2012

    Thanks Karen for sharing that sweet family story. It is all about love. And icing.

Mahala - May 2, 2012

Jen dear, thank you so much for this! My niece is taking a post graduate road trip with two of her friends and is going to pass through here. I’m excited but also noticing how nervous I am. I don’t get to see her very often so of course this has to be the *perfect* Santa Fe stop over and I have to be perfect, too. I’ve been laughing at the insanity of these thoughts. Your post helps me lighten up even more. I’ll love the underlying wish for her to have a wonderful time. And when intentions fall short, I’ll laugh — and maybe come read this post again. xoxo

    jenlouden - May 6, 2012

    laughing is always the best choice especially when in the kitchen!

J'aime - May 3, 2012

I love the lopsided homemade cakes! 🙂

    jenlouden - May 6, 2012

    thanks doll!

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