Today is the grand birthday celebration of my Middlest. She is having three friends over for a “Cooking Party” where they will make the items for her birthday dinner and then spend lots of quality time being loud eight-year-olds. My part is to be the “hostess-with-the-mostest” and besides serving all manner of snacks and 100% juice beverages, I’ll be the instructor par excellence as we bring the menu from stovetop to table. Middlest picked all her favorite things (homemade macaroni and cheese, fruit salad, and molten lava cakes for dessert) and I’m pretty sure the whole gig will go swimmingly. Probably the only hitch to the whole get-along is me. On one hand, I’m really looking forward to making this event fun and giggle-filled for my daughter and her friends. And on the other hand I am cursing my ever having suggested this as an alternative to the very expensive version held at a nearby kids cooking class. And I curse myself because I know just how easily I can get overwhelmed and have no ability to enjoy any part of the experience. All because I become stressed out, overwhelmed, agitated, the list goes on.
In case you haven’t experienced a molten lava cake, it is in essence, a failed recipe. It turns out miniature chocolate cakes under baked are delicious. Especially when accompanied by ice cream. They look so cute and lovely, all chocolatey with their dusting of powdered sugar, but when you open one up, the inside is all wrong. (Or if one thinks about this purely from the perspective of a tastebud, turns out all yum.) For instead of being cake-like, the inside is like warm chocolate pudding. Let the cravings commence.
Of course, the secret to molten lava cakes is using really good ingredients. And lots of eggs which makes it a poor dessert option for those with an egg allergy. So you can imagine the first time these little bad boys were whipped up for the king. The best chocolate, the best butter, the best eggs. Mixed together and poured into individual ramekins so as to make the presentation tres bien. From the outside, everything looked great. Too bad the inside wasn’t holding itself together.
Lucky for the chef in question, the recipient thought it tasted great. Lucky for us, the tradition of making failed chocolate cake has remained with us all these years.
I love molten lava cake. I am a chocolate aficionado and so it meets my needs. I use really good dark chocolate. I make it only often enough to not wreck the glory of the decadent treat. It is a spoonful of comfort. And it occurred to me as I sewed flowers onto the birthday party girls’ aprons, that many of us are a lot like molten lava cakes.
We look pretty good from the outside but are a wreck on the inside.
Since struggling with depression after the birth of Biggest over 11 years ago, I find it fairly hard to hold myself together. Especially at stressful times. I’m guessing most folks would have no idea just how close to the edge I always am perched, but that’s because my outer chocolate shell looks normal. But it hides the secret molten lava inside.
My depression (four bouts of postpartum depression plus the ongoing issues related to PTSD) includes lots and lots of pent-up rage. Most days, it stays way down by my toes and everybody stays happy. But on the bad days, it erupts. For me, the eruption is typically yelling at my kids. Lots and lots of parents yell at their kids. That in and of itself is not that worrying of an event. But it worries me. Because I hate feeling that level of anger, of being that close to losing control. I worry that someday I won’t just yell. That the parenting style I survived as a kid will fly to my fingertips and I’ll hit. And any time a parent hits because of rage, it isn’t good.
Luckily, like a molten lava cake, once the rage is released, it becomes a non-event. A clean-up of a mess–most often with me crying and wiping tears and snot off my face.
The emotional tension released, I can go back to being the me most folks think they know. Looking all normal on the inside, but with a secret held deep inside.