I love it when my kiddos have a birthday. It gives me a reason to pour over the old photo albums, bring out the baby books, and shower them with extra love and kisses.
Like I need an excuse to do that anyway.
Hurry up, don’t go too fast.
These were the words shared by my son’s football coach at the end-of-the-season banquet two Novembers ago. I grabbed my iPhone and made a verbatim note because I knew that it would apply at some point—not only in football but in life, too.
I may be one of the worst ones for wishing my life away. Working in a demanding job, I often find myself wishing and hoping and working away to get to the weekend. Then, when it finally comes, praying for those two precious days to go slow.
Slow down, so we can go fast. An oxymoron of time and space. You’ve heard the cliché about how time flies and that the older we get, the faster it goes. How can time feel more fleeting and faster every year? We are each given the same amount of time every day. No more, no less and suddenly, life is flashing before my eyes. My “baby” boy is sixteen with huge feet, hairy legs, and muscles. My daughter graduates from college in less than a month and then heads to nursing school. From there, it’ll be a little hop to getting married and having babies of her own.
It was a sage, retired Army captain who once explained the mathematics of time to me.
“When you were six, your comparative summer was a 1/6 fraction of your life. When you were 12, it became 1/12th. Now that you are almost 50, that’s 1/50th–barely a portion. To a six-year-old, the summer is endless. To you, it’s one night of sleep.”
My son has an old-soul method of measuring time as well. When he was twelve, I said, “You need to slow down growing, Bud. You’ll be gone before I know it.”
He said, “Don’t worry, Mom. You still have me for more than half as long as I’ve been alive.”
Again with the math!
The year we celebrated Dane’s fifteenth birthday was one that I had taken off from work. I’d spent the day cleaning and cooking and baking. Dane’s cake choice was homemade German chocolate, but without the pecan frosting. He wanted plain chocolate instead.
I made the cake from scratch and lifted frosting from a can. Sounds sketchy, right? My mom concocts the world’s best white wedding cake buttercream frosting, but Dane wanted chocolate on chocolate. I have yet to find a chocolate buttercream recipe that’s any better than what is in the Betty Crocker 16-ounce tub. The only thing better would be a two-pound tub.
Growing up, eating the chocolate frosting out of the can was a treat—Mom often left half used containers in the fridge. When I was in charge of icing the cake, I’d often only put on a thin layer, so there was enough left to eat with a spoon. My mom caught me once and hollered, “That is too much frosting! You can’t eat all of that frosting!!”
What? Isn’t frosting the best part?
One cake = one can of frosting.
Not in this house.
For Dane’s cake that year, I bought two containers. Two pounds of yummy goodness to spread between the three layers and the other to put on the top and around the sides. Then, I piped the remaining confection onto the top to give it the appearance of someone who had worked in a bakery. My mom decorated wedding cakes for a living, but the creative cake gene never reached my fingers–even though I did bake in a hospital kitchen for three years. Mom did teach me how to craft a star rosette, and that’s my go-to move when I want to wow my audience.
As I plunged the spatula into the creamy delight of the second container, I did wonder, “Is this too much frosting?”
That’s like saying a person shouldn’t be too happy. That it’s “too much” to call on our future and beckon our dreams. What if we hope for too much, and it falls short?
Okay, that’s stretching the message a little, but I wanted to get it in here, and I thought about it while frosting Dane’s cake. Shiny object.
Our human nature backs away from joy because we fear if we love someone too much or get our hopes up for something, that life will come crashing down and leave us bankrupt of happiness.
As I thought about the frosting dilemma, it made me wonder how many times I’d quit “icing the cake” because I worried that life was too good. Too much joy and abundance. Too much laughter and overall yumminess. Surely the good luck wouldn’t last, and I that I couldn’t possibly deserve my blessings. Wouldn’t it be easier and less painful to set lower expectations, plan for the worse and then not be disappointed when it turned out less than stellar?
Nah. That’s never been me. Ever.
Even in my conservative approach to life I don’t settle for “kinda hoping.” When I get my hopes up…they are ALL up.
Because why the hell not? Sometimes, hope for the future is all we have.
Can there ever be too much frosting?
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