20 October, 2008

Having My Cake And Eating It Too

The Diva wants a Buche de Noel for her birthday cake.  They are fairly easy to find in the DC area during the holiday season, so I didn't think twice about promising that she could have this cake.  I mean, they are in DC, Phoenix will have them too, no? 

After promising her this cake, I decided I probably needed to find a bakery to make it.  And that is where the trouble began.  Apparently the economy in Phoenix is a bit worse than it is here.  Bakeries are closing right and left as people are not treating themselves to baked delights.  Add to this that The Phoenix area is not as much European in heritage as it is Hispanic - finding a French Christmas pastry turned out to be a challenge. 

After Google, about 5 phone calls to different bakeries, and a few notes to friends in the area, I finally found a bakery that would be making Buche de Noel this holiday season.  I am sure that man on the phone thought I was nuts as I gushed with joy and offered to order it right now, today, this very minute!

And then I received the e-mail.  The e-mail that parents hate to receive.  The one that can put a note of guilt in even the most secure parent's heart. 

Why don't you make the cake with the Diva after you get to your parents.  It will be a treat for her to do it with you. 


I am sure that the Diva would love to bake her cake with me just as I am sure I would love the challenge of baking this cake.  The truth is that I never bake her birthday cake.  My mom never baked my birthday cake.  We are a family of bought birthday cakes!

Okay, so I could break the tradition of bought cakes but... I don't want to.  The Diva and I will spend a half day of our normal lives before flying, through Chicago cross country.  We will arrive fairly late and be exhausted.  We will wake early on her birthday, due to time changes, and then do a fun brunch before hopping in the car for a 200 mile road trip.  At this point, my friend would like me to make a cake before we do birthday dinner.  I am not sure that the reality of our travel is fully realized as she knows we will then hop in the car the next morning for another 200 mile road trip.  The only relaxation we will have are those few hours between arrival and dinner and return to road trip!

I could take those few hours to bake a cake.  Yes, I could do that, and I would like to bake her cake.  There is that part of my heart that would like to be the mom that bakes the birthday cakes as my SIL does.  Between Christmas brunch and after all the unwrapping of the presents, she bakes her son's birthday cake and decorates it sometime before their late Christmas dinner. 

I am, however, not that woman or that mom.  At some point I learned my limits.  I figured out the things that I can do as a parent and the things that it is best not for me to do.  Those are the things that add stress to my life; adding stress to a time and a day that doesn't need stress. 

It would be fun to bake the cake together, but it would also be fun to play a game, walk the dog, build a snowman, or simply relax and spend time together without doing something together directly (we will have been together a lot!)

My friend's statement reminded me of the reasons why I choose as I do.  One little statement had me shaking my head and remembering all the times I tried to cram so much into a little time; the times I tried to do it all rather than use the resources available.  Some moms, like my friend and my SIL, would not think it okay to buy a cake.  For them, making that cake is important.  I salute them and moms like them!  For me, that bakery down the street works perfectly well and allows me to relax and laugh and spend time with my daughter on her birthday. 

Here's to parents with lots of different priorities and choices, to bakeries that will make Buche de Noel this season, and to the lessons I have learned (and am learning) about time and limitations - and coming to terms with choices and being okay with them!


mama llama said...

Knowing your own limits, TE, is actually over half the battle. Diva is learning, as she grows with you, to recognize and respect those limits.

I have completely flopped so many cake recipes that I don't even try anymore. Young Prince doesn't even like cake...great excuse for Dunkin' Doughnuts for a birthday party, then.

I come from a home of a mother who was The Homemaker Extraordinnaire. I wish I were kidding. The house--always spotless. Home-cooked, gourmet dinners. Handmade clothing and blankets and the like. You get the picture...and the fact that most of those genes skipped me entirely.

I have had to learn to undo myself from *her disappointment* that I am not giving my children what she gave me. I give them my gifts, just as my mother gave me hers. That is what she taught me. And I am proud of that.

Make cookies together. Bake a pie. Do something feasible, that can still be a challenge, like truffles or a different type of Christmas cookie...and that won't end in great disappointment and frustration and, perhaps key here, exhaustion. That won't be good for either of you.

Just remember to be true to your inner voice.

Be well, TE.

liz said...

I echo what ML said -- Knowing your limits puts everyone on the right path. I have (and have since learned the lesson) in the past tried to do too much. It just ends up disapointing the children and upsetting me.

Everyone has their priorities, and we, as single parents, have to be good about making sure we're setting the right ones for us and our children. Sounds like yours are in the right place, no matter what others may think/say.

Buy the cake, enjoy the cake and enjoy the time together that you'll have for not trying to make it yourself!

dadshouse said...

I think if buying a cake is your tradition, by all means, embrace it and buy that cake!

I happen to love making birthday cakes, simply because we decorate them to be unique. My mom was an art teacher, and so for our family doing stuff like this was important. I am embracing her tradition.

Buying a cake is perfect for you because you enjoy doing other things with that time. And that's great!

Vinnie Sorce said...

I just want a piece of cake, lol. ;-)

harassedmomsramblings said...

A friend of mine views the use of bakeries and party planners as job creation and who is she to deprive people of jobs!

I agree with her!

Baking it would have been fun - but your trip sounds like MORE fun ;)

Jeni said...

When I first started to read this post, I was going to comment here that I have a recipe for a Buche Noel cake that is fairly simple and was going to offer to share it with you so you and the Diva could, indeed, enjoy the fun of making her cake. However, after reading ALL of your post, with all the elements that will be involved in your time -flight, driving time, etc. -even baking a simple box mix cake and using a can of ready-made frosting would be a bit of a time crimp for you! And if your family tradition has always been to buy a special cake, then DON'T mess with traditions! Just nice you found a place and can get the cake for the Diva as she requested. I used to bake my kids cakes for their birthdays, even got into making special cakes, with the Wilton pans and such, but now, the grandkids -and my kids too -seem to like the DQ ice cream cakes better than anything (and so do I too) so we have kind of switched over to purchasing cakes now too!

rubytuesdays said...

I think its super great that you know your limits and rather than driving yourself to the edge of insanity out of feeling like you *should* bake a cake with her when you have no time and have 300000 things going on you're going to support a local bakery in Phoenix.

T said...

Girl I so agree with the knowing your limits thing. I can't tell you of the number of times I tried to do something that someone else "suggested" only to find myself resenting said someone....

Do what you want to do!! You're a great mom either way!

The Exception said...

DH - That is so nice of you to offer to bake the cake!! Thanks!

Jeni i - I would love that recipe actually. I would love to make the cake, just not while under pressure to do so.

Thanks to everyone for their comments. It is nice that we all do different things and especially nice when we find where we are comfortable - whether it is baking the cake or not.

Now, will someone pass me a slice of cake!