Baking Soda and A Birthday

Dara LevanBlog, Every Soul Has A Story

 It started with baking soda. I was a momma on a mission. And I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. After searching for days (and in the middle of the night), I succumbed and accepted that I wouldn’t be able to make a cake from scratch. I felt dejected, disappointed, and downright depressed.

Who the heck cares about a creative birthday celebration with the Coronavirus crisis? Aren’t there more dire things that demand our attention? Well apparently I do. I kept refocusing my feelings toward gratitude. But I couldn’t fully shift my somber mood. And this is extremely unusual for me; I’ve had many friends tell me I’m so positive it’s sometimes annoying. I couldn’t shake this frustration.

Do you know why? Saturday my first born, my Alec, turns eighteen. It’s a milestone in his life. And Alec is also supposed to graduate from high school next month. It is doubtful he will experience what others have in the past (more on that another time). I cannot go there today.

And I am grateful for my loving husband for so many reasons. Here is one more. He is the person who insisted we celebrate even small occasions in big ways. His mom and dad always did that for and with him. It used to make me uncomfortable. And now I don’t want to miss one single second of celebrating life.

So Sunday night, I sat outside by myself. And I sobbed. I cried because I want to make a crazy cake like the twelve-foot Thomas the Train one I made years ago. Or the huge airplane birthday cake I created another time. I’ve been visualizing Alec’s eighteenth in my mind for weeks. I feel like this is the last birthday in which we are a party of four. This time next year, Alec will be a freshman in college.

As the dam burst, I thought about those science experiment volcanos we used to make when we were kids. Yep. You need the darn baking soda for that, too! My tears felt like lava as they burned my cheeks. I took a sip of Brunello and stared up at the palm fronds.

After the long overdue eruption ceased, I took deep breaths and grounded myself. I thought about the blessings of extra time with Alec. This is our third week at home, and I’ve honestly loved every minute of it. I hear him howling as he’s gaming with friends. I love witnessing snapshots of his last few days of school. 

We’ve eaten nearly all meals together, which is not unusual for us. But my husband travels often; it’s been a gift to have the consistency and leisurely, quality conversations. Zoe and Alec are chattering; it’s like a 24/7 sitcom. I’d share some of their commentary, but they’d be mortified! (I’ll wait to publish those dialogues in one of my upcoming books. ;))

I am painfully aware of how many people have it worse. This should be my worst problem. Seriously, I am almost embarrassed to share all that I did. But there’s a lesson to be learned. And it has little to do with a missing ingredient.

Every one of us has moments that suck. Some are life threatening. Some are social or economic. Some are trivial. I then beat myself up for letting this silly, stupid detail get me upset. I felt guilty and ashamed of myself, even though I knew this represented more. I was a hot mess.

Here’s what matters most; I need to remind myself again and again. Feelings are what they are. It is unkind to judge them and each other. What may hurt today for you may not have a year ago.

I wanted this birthday to be memorable for my son. Clearly it will be, but not in the way I had envisioned. We had planned to have an unforgettable party for him and his friends.

Yet I knew even last week how ridiculously irrational I was acting. I felt like thick, lumpy batter that needed to be blended with patience and compassion. I dug deep and couldn’t find it. I got stuck.

I often write about self-love and acceptance. Perhaps that’s the point. I need to accept where I am, how I feel, and allow myself to be in whatever space is necessary at this time. Recipes are tweaked and revised as needed. A dessert may take the form of a loaf or cupcake but taste just as delicious.

What I do know for sure is how much I unconditionally love my family. Love has and will always be available. It is a staple ingredient in our lives, and not just on birthdays, but every day.

We will celebrate you, Alec, at home, on Zoom, FaceTime, and with some other sweet surprises. I am thankful to spend this precious day with you, Zoe, and Dad. 11:02 p.m. you made me a mommy for the first time. And yea, you know, when you blow out the candles, I may cry again. 

P. S. I love you, TODD. I dedicate today’s blog post to you. Happy birthday! 

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With love and gratitude,

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