Friday, January 29, 2010

In the eyes of a stranger

Who do you think you are?


For alot of reasons, I used to believe I wasn't *really* sick or disabled. Part of it was denial (a step in the coping process), another part was being told it was all in my head (maybe they are right?). Maybe I really WAS lazy. Maybe I wanted attention.

For many years I really believed all that. So what happens when things get worse? Things DID get worse. I got cancer. I lost pregnancies, needed many surgeries, lost my ability to work and drive. When that happens, one begins to think, well, now I must deserve all this. Maybe I asked for it.

So underneath it all I must not have much worth.

People who know me will be quick to deny that statement but look inside yourself. Isn't there *something* you believe about yourself that those who love you would argue?

I've worked hard over the last year to let go of much of these self-lies. It ain't easy, babe. But yesterday something happened that pushed me forward one more step, helped me walk away from one more lie.

I had the chance to comfort an injured stranger who had fallen off the sidewalk, onto our extremely busy street at dusk. She'd had a seizure and was terrified by the strange faces around her. I was able to connect with her and keep her calm until she was lifted into the ambulance.

Emergency services seemed to know her from prior falls, though she didn't recognize them. I had to wonder who she was. Was she diabetic, epileptic? A drug user, an alzheimers patient? I'll never know. Could I end up like her someday?

Kneeling with her as cars slowly splashed by and flakes of snow fell on us, I saw something in her eyes that I will never forget: she felt safe with me.

If a scared, hurt, confused stranger can find comfort in me, there must be some good in me. I don't mean that in a, "See what I did! I'm a good person!" kind of way. I mean that she helped me let go of the cold, dark, very real nugget of "I must be so flawed that I deserve this pain" in my soul. The small-child part of me just let it go and picked up an image to tuck away in its place: the relief in a stranger's eyes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mom is Great...

If you haven't seen Bill Cosby's chocolate-cake-for-breakfast bit, you HAVE to take a moment and check it out now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

See? Anywho, THIS is my theme song. I'm not the hip mom, the soccer mom, the super-earth-crunchy mom or the every-kids-best-friend mom. I'm a loving, as understanding as I can be, mostly patient, extremely tired and in severe pain disabled mom. And I can be a tough mom, because when mom has limits, kids responsibilites take on a new meaning. I try to remind myself constantly that a responsible child (good) is a different thing than a parentified child (not good). I also need to find ways to find joy in a hard day. Sometimes the only solution is baking. It generally happens when I don't even have enough energy to read a book or knit - then my poor husband turns around and sees me whipping up frosting.

So. To remind my kids that life is fun, to remind myself that *I* am fun,  I bake chocolate cake. Baking cakes from scratch seems intimidating but it only requires two things: a great recipe and a stocked pantry. I'm not a person who always has food in the house. Milk? Oops. But as long as I keep some form of sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour in the house, I am content. Don't have a perishable ingredient (eggs, butter, milk)? Try to find a substitution on the web. It actually takes me the same amount of time to bake this cake as a box mix - and if you know me, you know I get exausted fast.

Here is my favorite recipe. I halve the recipe belowand bake it in a cast iron skillet (I don't know why - it just feels so cozy!) and it makes enoug to cut about 8 pieces from. Or, one for each of them and the rest for me.

2c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
3/4 cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c milk
1/2 c oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water (measure after boiling)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. For more size/quantity variations, check out the link above.

I like to frost it differently each time - remember to halve the amount if you've haved the cake. So far I've done these two ...

Hershey's "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING (same link as the cake)
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Caramel Frosting by Paula Dean, Foodnetwork
1 stick butter
1 c heavy cream (can substitute half & half or milk if its what you have on hand)
1 tbl vanilla
1 box confectioners sugar

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add brown sugar and 1/3 cup cream. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.

Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in confectioners' sugar a little at a time until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream at a time until consistency is right.