Let’s Bake a Cake

I received a few texts before midnight, from different corners of the country, sincerely wishing me a happy new year. I felt cared for. I spent the evening with a divorced woman and a single woman. We are the Sorts of People Who Don’t Get Invited to New Year’s Eve Shindigs. So we mixed up some Old Fashioneds and watched a madcap 60s movie. I was so comfortable in my friend’s cushy chair that I dozed off 2 or 3 times. Still, I enjoyed the movie very much. It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt this holiday season.

I awoke today to a new year, and to my same old life. I felt so restive yet incompetent. I needed to tidy up my room and the bathroom, which had two clogged toilets the past few days. It was only about 40 minutes of work, but I couldn’t get started. I’d walk into the bathroom, gauge the tasks, then leave, defeated. I felt like Julianne Moore’s depressed housewife in The Hours, when she tries to bake a cake and it’s so hard.

hours_julianne moore

I’m not depressed. But I’m so overwhelmed that the simplest tasks can be so daunting. I summoned enough energy to shower, and I let myself have a good cry. Daughter heard me. She dashed downstairs and brewed a pot of coffee. Son heated up a can of chili. I know that my children are not responsible for me, but these were acts of kindness. I accepted, graciously. Then I felt pumped up enough to get ‘er done. I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the bathroom floor (and the plungers–eew!), and gathered up all the towels that had valiantly soaked up the toilet overflow. I got a few other basic household chores done. Things are looking good. I can go back to work feeling like things are in order.

This season just wore me down. As much as I avoided festivities, traveling, and zaniness, the mere presence of the holiday was relentless. My kids were falling apart. I was holding down the fort and holding up our spirits. Today, I simply capitulated. I’ve got nothing left to give, nothing left to withstand my loved ones’ pain, or everyone else’s happiness. I want to hope for a better year, and I felt a glimmer of hope when I got those texts and considered that 2013 would be better, and I have these lovely people in my life, but I’m still living one day at a time. There’s not a lot of space for hope. There’s just today, and today was rough.

Nevertheless, I have enough remnants of good humor to know that I ought to snap out of it. And so I will draw a lesson from the sassiest widow around, who can bake a cake like nobody’s business:



2 thoughts on “Let’s Bake a Cake

  1. The holidays really do heighten our widowhood related emotions. I’m so glad they’re over with. I’ve been through the toilet clogging series of challenges, too, and that, alone, can leave anyone feeling beaten up and battered. It sounds like you’ve got really good kids and if living one day at a time is what you have to do to hold it together, then embrace it and be patient with yourself. This winter of your emotional life will eventually give way to spring.

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