I simply didn’t think it through. I grabbed the black plastic base on which sat a cake decorated exactly as my daughter had requested with colorful balloons and her name swirled across the chocolate frosting in bright pink icing. I should have picked it up by the cardboard, but I didn’t. I grabbed the plastic base, turned past the kitchen island, and felt the cardboard sliding. I felt every inch of it sliding off that slick plastic, but I could not save it.
Splat. Face-down — of course, face-down — the cake landed on the floor.
The rest of my family just stared. Whether they were in shock or merely waiting to see how I’d react, I’m not sure. My daughter didn’t cry, though I felt terrible. Sure, it was only a cake, but it was her birthday cake, and it was face-down on the floor because I was careless. I apologized to my daughter, flipped the cake back over, and salvaged it, best I could. It wasn’t even that bad — a smashed side and some smudged frosting. We stuck a candle in it, sang “Happy Birthday,” and sliced it up. It was still as delicious as any undropped cake and we went on to enjoy the rest of the evening — as we should have, it was only a dropped cake.
Here’s the thing, though, I don’t even have a good picture to go along with this story because, in every photo I took, I tried to crop out the evidence of my mistake. This dropped cake bothered me more than it bothered my daughter (who wasn’t bothered, at all). It bothered me more than anyone should be bothered by a simple and harmless mistake. But I felt so embarrassed to have made a mistake at all, that I tried to crop it out of existence.
Perfectionism is both a symptom and cause of the anxiety disorder with which I struggle.
Over the past few years, this cake has become one of our funny stories. My kids love to recount it at every birthday, “Remember the time Mom dropped the cake!” “Don’t drop the cake, Mom!” We laugh about it.
I laugh about it.
And, now, I wish I would have taken a photo of that cake, face down in all its glory, to remind myself that it is OK to make mistakes — and, sometimes, the flawed moments when mistakes happen are the moments that create great memories.