“Free time”

This afternoon was Chris’s cousin’s engagement party. What was surprising was that her mother actually made one of the fanciest homemade cakes I’d ever seen. It was this incredibly tall, marshmallow-frosted white cake with intricate beading and lining, handmade red and white sugar flowers, and a chocolate fudge filling. The cake itself was moist throughout; I was completely blown away.

I asked Chris’s cousin’s mother how, when, and where she learned to do this type of cake making; I had no idea she had this talent. She said she hadn’t done cakes like this since all three of her daughters were young. Since she quit her job temporarily until the girls were around 5, she said she had a lot of free time after they’d go to sleep, and she got bored and missed adult conversation and interaction, so she decided to take up a hobby at the local community center, which offered cake baking and decorating classes. She became obsessed with it and started doing it all the time, and it got to a point where friends, church members, and friends of friends were asking her to make cakes for their birthdays, graduations, and even weddings, and paying her for her services.

Two things surprised me in this conversation: one, that she literally had this talent and hadn’t made a cake of this scale since the girls were that young (that’s 20+ years ago!), yet this cake still turned out immaculate and delicious; and two, that in retrospect, as a young mother she actually admitted to having a “lot” of free time, even with three children. Most parents of today think they don’t have enough time to do everything with just one child, yet Chris’s aunt thought she had too much free time and needed to consume herself with a new (and quite laborious and intensive) hobby with three freaking children and zero hired help. She said she enjoyed it, as it gave her another purpose and something else to focus on other than being a temporary stay-at-home mother, which oftentimes drove her crazy (as it probably would anyone).

That’s the thing about Chris’s family. Although they are certainly not without their own little dysfunctional bits, as every family is dysfunctional to some degree, somehow, what unites every individual in his family in my head is that every single one of them is so positive, always looking to new opportunities and ways to see the glass half full and not half empty. I’ll never stop being astounded by this.


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