Day Thirty One: The Gift of Cupcakes

Masana and Mack with their creations.

I'm a mean mom. And lately I've been saltier than my usual brackish self, which doesn't help me deal with my kids and their petty arguments.

When they fight, it's always a battle of words, which my son Mack usually wins. His seven year old beyond precocious command of the English language is frustrating for my daughter Masana. But then the mere physical presence of Masana always puts Mack in his place. It's not that she's an Amazonian soon to be 4th grade girl--he's just a tiny peanut of a boy. Masana is also quite athletic, which means that she can swing a bat, do handstands, run fast, and, more importantly, throw a pretty hard punch. And while Mack may give his heart when it comes to playing sports, all Masana has to do is show up. She's going to get picked to be on someone's team. Which frustrates Mack.

So the struggle between my smartypants son and brawny yet graceful daughter has me yelling at them every waking moment we're together. This is Bad Parenting 101.

Before my Mom died, I was a great mom. I hosted play dates and planned out activities. I read to my kids and said prayers with them every night. I cooked favorite meals and baked yummy treats. I remembered special days at school when either of them needed me to be there. I even volunteered at the school library. And unlike what I am doing right now, I NEVER tooted my own horn...(oops).

Most importantly, I tried NOT to yell at my kids. Of course, trying and doing are two different things, but I consciously made an effort to not be that yeller of a mom you see in the supermarket and secretly want to throttle. But now that I'm dealing with my grief, I have no filter for my base urges. I let myself scream and I know it's wrong.

Yesterday I tried to make amends with the gift of cupcakes. My daughter Masana has been obsessed with the cupcake cookbook What's New Cupcake?  by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. We've only had the book for a week and she has brought it up to her room every night to review the recipes. So the night before last, I asked her to pick her favorite one and promised that we would make it the next day. Mack heard us in the next room and ran in with wild eyes. "Cupcakes? Did someone say cupcakes?" We told him our plan and he did his happy skip out of the room.

Masana chose "An Apple A Day" cupcake. And when the kids came home from their swim lessons, I had all the materials out in the kitchen. These are our apple-icious cupcakes:

Certainly not as pretty as the ones in the book , but just as yummy. Just ask my kids.

And wouldn't you know it, neither Mack nor Masana instigated an argument the entire evening.

I know that one night of cupcakes doesn't make up for my weeks of bad behavior. From my Mom's death, I learned that we can't take things back: not hurtful words or missed opportunities or exhibitions of ugliness. We have to move forward. I'm trying to do that now. And it all starts with my relationship with my kids.