Showing posts with label Birthday Story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birthday Story. Show all posts

Carrot Cake

Twenty one years ago I spent the evening and the night staring into my newborn daughter’s eyes.  She wasn’t tired, so I wasn’t tired either and we stayed up hour after hour the entire night just the two of us in a cold hospital room lit only by the blue light that comes from putting the hospital tv on the tv listings channel.

Although she was due on 12/20, she arrived 12/17, skidding into the world right before my birthday. 

 The universe’s timing is perfect and all but seriously she took over my birthday cake game like the USSR took over Eastern Europe during the Cold War.  

For decades it seemed silly to order a cake for myself when there was always cake left over from her birthday.

No big deal. 

I resigned with the veil of saint motherhood to a life of  stale cake mixed with ice cream, a treat any day, but never what I wanted since the only cake I ever want/wanted/will ever want for my birthday is carrot cake. 

Over the past few years it has become a tradition for Zack to pick out something funny to surprise Zoe with on her cake. Last night Zack tried to make something she’d like  but Publix rejected “Happy Birthday Now You Can Buy Us Alcohol” and I had to improv.  

After creating her vanilla/lemon cake I ordered her a posh charcuterie board and almost completed my order but then a voice inside me said “order yourself a carrot cake.”  

It’s the same voice that sings along loudly to Ariana Grande’s “Seven Rings” - I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.

It’s the voice inside me that begged to try the “Reacting to the Past” historical role playing games which have lead to the most fun and also highest success rates I’ve ever had in the classroom. 

So I listened.

I ordered myself a carrot cake with hummingbird filling and cream cheese icing and my name written across the top.  

I only want a piece, I don’t even know who else will share it with me, but having it in my fridge makes me the richest woman in the world (after Ariana Grande)

No one knows what the future holds, but I am damn sure mine will not include stale cake flavored with the hope someone else will bring me what I want despite the fact I can just get for myself. 

Birthday Story: Part 3 of 3: Only Better Now

The night ends quietly and peacefully.  

I’m deep asleep when my phone rings a little after 3am.

 I turn it right off because I sleep with my phone on airplane mode so I’m shocked it’s even going off and not quite sure that I’m not dreaming.

 A second later I hear crying outside my door and then check my phone. 

It was Zoe that called.

I get up and go check.

She’s in her bathroom, throwing up everywhere. 

Poor thing.  I hold her hair and clean up. 

Zack is still awake and opens his bedroom door to ask what’s going on.

I tell him and he offers to help so I send him for more towels and when he comes back with them we hug because it’s the middle of the night and this is crazy. 

He confides, “I would have helped her but I thought she was crying because she saw a bug….”

We laugh. That was understandable. 

He goes back to whatever he was doing and I get Zoe settled on the sofa. 

Then another wave hits and she throws up again, this time it hurts so much she’s crying silently and breaking my heart.

I help poor Zoe get cleaned up again and into fresh clothes and back on the sofa.

She sleeps fitfully with her head on my lap, breaks into a fever and mumbles about things she’s afraid of, things she needs me to get, things that are keeping her from peace.

I stayed up all night holding her, just like I did in the hospital 16 years ago, only better, because now there is so much more of her to love.

Birthday Story: Part 2 of 3: The Bug

Part 2: The Bug.

He walks back into the room, half yelling, half laughing. It is impossible to tell what has happened, but I venture a guess.

Did you step on a bug? I guess this because the bug guy was just here yesterday and because also it’s rainy and cold outside so Florida bugs try to come inside and chillax. A bug in the laundry room would not be a complete surprise.

He nods speechlessly and I go look.

OMG. Yes, a bug, flattened it completely and absolutely clearly dead.

 I announce my findings.  

Zack howls again at the horror of all of this and then laughs and cringes and I cringe too and somehow it falls on me to clean the damn bug up. 


Birthday Story: Part 1 of 3 - Big Plans

 On Zoe’s 16th birthday I didn’t throw her a huge party or buy her a car, but when she accidentally opened my birthday presents my parents sent me instead of opening her own, I just smiled warmly and ran with it. 

This is a big deal because I don’t get too many birthday presents so when they come I savor them, sometimes happily making myself wait weeks to open them.  

Yay, a funny solar powered frog that hangs in a tree and bounces!! 
Yay, a gift card to Walgreens!! 

After Zoe finished whatever else and was looking like teenage angst was about to grab her by the ankles I got us out of the house. 

First we went far across town and walked up and down the aisle of a makeup store to get a present for a friend of hers.

 I almost buy this super cool eyeshadow palette, then I almost buy the other once, and then I stand in line and almost buy the palette that the other ones were imitating but then I just don’t want to -- no, actually, I just physically can't -- spend that much money on eyeshadow when people are hungry and cold in this world so I walk out empty handed but happy.

We drive to a bookstore and Zoe buys another present for another friend and I decide to force myself to buy a book, a real tangible printed book. I almost buy this one, then the other, then barely can decide between two of them and finally pick one.  

This whole thing makes Zoe laugh and after we pay we walk into the cold darkness laughing. 

Where next? She shrugs. I shrug. She thinks we are going home but oh no, I have plans. 

Big plans.

I take her to Walgreens.

We walk in and are greeted with WELCOME TO MOE’S just kidding, they copied Moe’s and shout WELCOME TO WALGREENS, which is equal parts awkward and familiar like most rituals.

Zoe asks what we are there for and I tell her to get whatever mascara she wants. Her eyes bug out a little. She puts one in my basket and I see it’s buy one get one 50% off. Get TWO. She shakes her head in disbelief. TWO? Yes, TWO, it’s going on the gift card! We giggle and walk slowly up the makeup aisle.

Sixteen years ago, you were just born and I couldn’t put you down! Everyone was gone and I wouldn’t let the nurses take you so I could sleep.  I couldn’t put you down and I couldn’t stop staring at you and you weren’t sleepy so we just stayed up all night staring at each other.

Zoe nods. I tell her this story each year. It’s part of our thing.  I continue.

You never cried. You just hung out looking at things and holding my finger so tightly. It was the longest night of my life. Yours too, probably.

Zoe nods and I ask if she needs nail polish. She hesitates. It’s your birthday! Get it!! She grabs the polish she’d been eying and throws it in.   
We continue.

Need a hairbrush? No.

 Need Band-Aids? No.

 Sanitary pads? MOM!

Leggings? Yes. We stock up on leggings, giddy as we dig though the colors and sizes. Pink? NO! Navy? Yes! Black? Get two!

We walk down the toy aisle, nothing.

The school supply aisle, nothing. Of course. 

We skip the cleaning supplies and seasonal decor.  

I am overtaken with an urge and announce, Follow me, I’m getting a Red Bull. 

Zoe follows me then as I grab one from the Walgreens refrigerator, she suggests I should get the BIG one. 

I do, and ask her what she’d like. 

She picks an iced coffee and we stand in line to pay, feeling like birthday millionaires.

We get home and Zoe disappears into her phone and her world. 

I fall into the series Cuba Libre on Netflix.

Zack walks out of his room, says hello, turns a corner and howls like someone has died.