The Secret of Molten Lava

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.

9 thoughts on “The Secret of Molten Lava

  1. You’ve just expressed one of my biggest fears. Like you, I struggle with depression and keeping it tucked away. People expect me to be the “funny person,” as I’m sure they do with you. It can be exhausting always hiding away. I come from a very, shall we say, “aggressive” family. For a long time I battled my want for a child with the fear that I would somehow become my parents. I have a temper. A bad one. For me, the best thing to do when I’m getting angry and yelling, is to separate myself from the situation. I go to the bathroom and sit in the bathtub. Weird, I know, but it works. Staying around people makes it worse. Having people touch makes me cringe. It doesn’t fix it entirely, but it helps. I know this lengthy response probably doesn’t do much, but you aren’t alone. I empathize.

    Besides, making your kids molten lava cakes for their birthdays, pretty much makes you the best mom ever.

  2. That’s quite a battle, and it’s not easy. But you’ll be okay. You know how I know? Because you recognize your weak zone, and can buttress it. You’ve worked out your coping mechanisms.

    You’re every bit as wonderful as a molten lava cake. 🙂

  3. I’m crying in the wake of reading this. I know these fears you describe. I’m so happy to be two years into parenting my little one, with only one horrible, brief-lived moment (early on) reminding me that there’s no way I could perpetuate those past violences. The fear I feel reflecting on the possibility is my comfort when I find myself filled with rage, and feel that rage thusly deflated.

    99% of the time, I feel like a really freakin’ awesome cake with a poor icing job on the outside. The other 1% of the time, I feel exactly as you’ve described here.

    That’s these days, though. Reading this reminds me that it wasn’t always this way, and that I’m grateful for the reversal I live now.

    Big loves to you, lady. From where I’m sitting, that cake is all good, inside and out. The fact that a little (extra) vinegar might have slipped in doesn’t ruin the cake. It just gives it a more distinctive flavor, and helps the sweetness of all the other flavors mixed in stand out all the more.

    I wish it were as easy to feel from the inside as to see from the outside.

  4. Geez Kristina, no one told me it was “cutting clear to the bone-Friday” 😉
    Where to begin with that one….

    No, things are not often what they seem from the outside, from a distance. People possibly more so than most of the thousand-thousand things.

    Depression, Anxiety, and Rage are such close bosom buddies they rarely come to roost alone. I have had occasion to learn about that.(I think when God was passing out talents a/o burdens, a whole bunch thought in order to get creative we had to take those three with it.)

    Yup, pretty scary out here on the edge, in the fog, often wondering if we’re gonna fall, be pushed, or jump off of our precarious edges. Coyote is always waiting.

    Okay, I just spent a half an hour re writing and editing this trying to make this just right for you and your post. Not gonna happen. ‘s ok, I’ll get over it. 🙂

    You ARE the Queen of the analogy, both apt and astute.

  5. K, I’m not being the least bit flippant with this suggestion- Whack a Mole. It’s a children’s game. My kids use to have one and I appropriated it when my own rage threatened to boil over. I suffered with post-partum blues after my second baby. Not a full fledged depression, though. I took the game up to my room, closed the door and beat the hell out of that mole. It was so cathartic to be able to release frustration in a safe and controlled way.

    The game is long gone but sometimes, I’ll hammer nails into a piece of wood. It truly helps.

  6. Where to begin?
    I found this moving and so impressive. Enlightening. Honest. You’ve opened my eyes to see things more clearly than before. I’m very struck by it.
    The party sounds wonderful – just my sort of thing. But I don’t mind the risk of chaos. Which makes it all the more loving and giving and just great that you lay on such an event.
    I don’t really have anything to give back to you – except, maybe, have some gingerbread men you made earlier hidden away just in case – and some icing pens with which to decorate them.
    Another sign of your… what? Goodness? Ableness? (Or should that be ability?) — that you didn’t even mention the whole clearing up part after the communal baking, partying and flowing molten lava.

  7. Pingback: Parachute sex and molten lava cakes | Blackwatertown

  8. Blackwatertown sent me. I think that molten lava cake, like so many good recipes, are the result of experimentation and without these experimental disasters our eating would be very dull. Parenthood can be stressful at times and we seldom have any training for it. It is human to get tired, cross and in need of ‘our own space’. My safety valve was to wash the car, clean the windows or pull weeds, being out of doors and doing physical work always helped to calm me down.

  9. I’m sorry to hear what you have been through, but I congratulate you for having broken the cycle in nurturing your own children. It’s not an easy road!

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