Monday, October 10, 2011

Because I promised

Because it's hard to talk about your very own failures, I dreaded putting up this post.

We did a few things right when it came to remembering Quinn on her special day. We took the kids to Bass Pro, where they shoved quarters into the shooting range rifles, and I bought my first ever cast-iron skillet, an essential item in every southern cook's kitchen. We let the kids pick Chik-fil-A over the Mellow Mushroom. Apparently it's hard for my children to choose the unknown when the familiar is an option, even when the chicken is too spicy and the other kids in the play area are too loud.

Then we sped home for butterfly cake.

The cake. Helen had been imagining a butterfly cake for Quinn for months in advance. I agreed, remembering a cute cut-up cake my mom made for me when I was five. Helen helped me bake it. Helen also dresses herself.I tinted the frosting orange, a color I had fallen in love with while I was pregnant with Quinn. It got a little garish. We decorated the butterfly with bits and pieces of found candy. It got a little tacky. I stuck on Fruit-by-the-Foot antennae. They got a little droopy.When we finally arrived home, past bedtime, for butterfly cake, the anticipation of the moment had long since peaked, but Jason and I were determined to make this celebration happen. We lit the one candle and wanted all three kids to blow it out.

The mood started to change the moment we pulled out the camera.

And it just got worse with each picture.
Jason had to remove the sweet, sobbing daughter from the scene, help her into her jammies and tuck her into bed for the night. The boys ate their pieces of cake, and I choked one down. It was sickeningly sweet to me. I could hardly chew and swallow, it just felt so wrong.

So many times, my kids bring me back to reality. Are my dreams for them cleverly disguised dreams for me or my image? My wishes for perfect, glittery children frequently get interrupted by improperly extracted boogers, learning hurdles, embarrassing public behavior and bad attitudes. (And while some behaviors obviously need to be curbed and others eliminated, we can't tamper with basic personalities and talents. For example, we can tell Owen that he absolutely must stop playing air guitar on the soccer field, but we cannot make him cease to love music or turn him into the star athlete on the team. We can tell Jack that he absolutely has to tell us before he tries to go stinky at church, and that he may not walk around with his pants around his ankles in the lobby, but we cannot change his independent, confident outlook.)

I had really built up this moment in my mind. This cake that I thought would be the perfect way to remember what would have been Quinn's first birthday was a disaster, and in hindsight, more about me than about what our family needed. Forced moments. Can't we all recall those from our own childhoods? Yuck.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing about Quinn's birthday. I love your honesty. I look forward to meeting your sweet Quinn someday.

Carrie said...

Yes. There's something about that unquenchable ability to build things up in our minds...and how can we not, really...and then throw in the volatile mixture of 3+ young children...and it's like the mixer beaters of life just spraying random cake batter over the cupboards that you just cleaned carefully in expectation of a perfect concoction. I'm sorry it turned out that way.

And I really relate in the question of "what do my dreams for my kids come back to"? I feel like we really walked through that with Israel and came out on the other side (limping and scratched) willing to endure the thoughts of someone that we were being too patient of parents, when in actuality, we were being what the unique makeup of Israel needed. Now, we are going through a learning curve with Gabe, too, and I'm having to look at those same issues - is the real issue that I am afraid he is making me look like a bad parent? And am I willing to be who he needs me to be as opposed to being a parent performing for imaginary critical eyes? Sigh.

Also. Owen plays air guitar on the soccer field? Huh. Gabe turns lots of cartwheels and plays imaginary soccer games in his head that involve the need to dive repeatedly to the ground, roll, and get up slowly, meanwhile missing the ball that has whizzed past him in the thundering herd of children who are actually paying attention the game. :)

heather said...

So sorry Joyce. So sorry for your loss of your baby girl and for a disappointing evening. Yes! We've all had those kind of nights where it's just not going as planned & hoped. I had one of those nights myself actually. Your honest heart and true mom moments makes me feel a little more normal.

Kris Freed said...

I loved the whole post, Joyce. You and your children made me laugh so hard. :) gets me so often too.

I wish you could've had a sweeter moment of memory, but I hope that you can see that that can happen other times and in other ways.

love you...

Grandma Ruby said...

It still happens to grandmas too. We hope for so much and don't count on the tiredness that takes over and makes the kids do the unplanned. And yes, it happened to your childhood as well. I remember trying to squeeze in birthday celebrations for a girl who was born on New Year's Day. I've often kicked myself for not choosing a totally separate day and stuck with it. Love you, Joyce. You & Jason make a great team of parents for your wonderful kids!

Rustin and Lynette Polinder said...

The anniversaries are so hard to know how to remember and to find ways to keep their memories alive. I think the cake idea was a good one, and I also think it makes complete sense why it didn't taste good to you on that day. So many mixed emotions, plus all the emotions of the rest of your family too.

And I love that Owen plays air guitar on the soccer field. :>)

sherri said...

Helen's little tude is cracking me up. Reality...yes, it's not always pleasant and doesn't always go like we had pictured in our minds...but, life is still worth celebrating those we love! You made a meaningful effort and you will be grateful for the memories of that beautiful butterfly cake you made for Quinn.