I cried Monday morning in yoga.
Not bawling crying, not ugly crying — but a tear did roll down my cheek as I lay in shavasana.
Dang pigeon pose.
Pigeon pose is a hip opener pose. We stayed in it for an extremely long time Monday morning, and we went really deep. Hips are where we allegedly store our emotions and when you open up your hips it is not uncommon for emotion to come out.
And come out it did. I cried. About German Chocolate Cake.
See Chad had requested a German Chocolate Cake for his birthday dinner and I took his request seriously. I wanted the real deal. No boxed mixes with store bought frosting. I wanted to make the cake and frosting from scratch. I wanted a fancy 3 tiered, layered, cake platter, kind of cake. I wanted Chad to know I loved him, was willing to spend time on him, and I wanted to develop talents and learn something new.
So I called my amazing baking friend, and she gave me her recipe. We talked 2 to 3 times over the course of the week as I had questions about the recipe. My friend warned me the cake was very time consuming and expensive, but I decided Chad was worth it.
Next I gathered the ingredients and supplies. The recipe called specifically for cake flour and german chocolate. I had to go to two different stores to find what I needed. I borrowed 3 cake rounds from my sister and dug out my sifter from the back corners of my pantry.
Sunday morning came and I went to baking. This recipe was legit. The kind of recipe where you beat well after each egg, sift the dry ingredients, and alternate the flour and buttermilk as you slowly mix them in. I traced and cut parchment paper and carefully poured the batter into the cake rounds. To make the frosting, I separated egg yolks from their whites and chopped pecans. I stirred diligently to make sure I didn’t turn the frosting into scrambled egss with pecans.
After the cakes were baked and cooled, I assembled them on one of my cake plates. I frosted with much care and precision. The gooey frosting oozed between the layers. I was so excited for Chad to try his cake.
I couldn’t wait for the first bite and reap the rewards of my efforts. I gathered my family around as if I were cutting a wedding cake, and I served the first piece to Chad. Then I took a nibble.
What the #@?!?!>?&#?
Although the frosting was super yummy, the cake was drier than dry. And I am not exaggerating or downplaying my awesomeness. In fact, my kind, loving, sweet sister even called the cake “crazy dry” because she is so thoughtful like that. No one in the room said much and they didn’t have to. I knew the cake did not turn out like I had hoped.
When we got home my husband tried to make me feel better and tell me how much the cake meant to him. He recognized all the time and effort that I had put into the cake for him. My desire to make this complicated recipe showed him that I loved him. But in the end, the cake was not good.
I was super disappointed.
So the next morning in yoga, I cried about German Chocolate Cake.
I cried about my German Chocolate Cake because the failed cake feels like the story of my life:
The story where my efforts do not equal the results.
Where you work your buns off, do more than you have to, for what?
Where you do your best for the right reasons but don’t get the outcome you hoped for.
Like when you …
Faithfully participate in a 90 day health challenge to only lose 5 pounds.
Go to yoga 5 days a week for 8 months to still not be able to do a chatarunga properly without going to your knees.
Put lots of time and creativity into a wedding reception just to have it rained out and blown away.
Spend extra time on making a meeting nice just to be judged for your work.
And right now the real kick in the gut is my children. It feels like I have put so much time and energy into helping, teaching, mentoring, listening, and understanding. But I have not had the outcomes I hoped for.
My favorite example is when I made Elle homemade, green shamrock waffles for St. Patrick’s Day when she was little. I put in the effort and expected excitement and gratitude. Instead she came down the stairs and screamed, “I want quesadillas!” Here I thought I was being a good mom.
My more current example is my son’s manners. I have spent hours teaching, training, modeling, encouraging, and nagging Crew about his table manners. Heck, I even have 20 Table Manner lessons on my blog. But guess what? He still eats like a pig — both hands, no napkin, food hanging out of his mouth, crumbs everywhere. Many dinners I feel like screaming and sometimes I do. It is not because he makes me look bad or because I am an uptight, neat freak. (Trust me, to see him eat is to understand my frustration.) It is because I am trying to help him and I don’t know what else to do. I have done all I can do but haven’t seen any improvement.
This disappointment expands from everything to chores, to morning routine, to fighting, to Christmas presents, to FHE lessons, to vacations, to you name it. I put in the time and effort and don’t get the results I hope for.
I cried in yoga that morning because I have this crazy belief that effort should equal outcome and it doesn’t always.
And on a much deeper level, I realize that, despite my efforts, my children might not choose my religion, my values, my beliefs. They might not choose college, or families, or service. They might choose to live a very different lifestyle than the one I hope for them. They are their own people who get to make their own choices. They will turn out the way they want to turn out. I am only a guide.
And it feels a little hopeless at time. Pointless. Like why do I do what I do when it really doesn’t matter much anyway. I am seeing more and more that children come as they are and there is only so much we as parents can do. Sometimes I want to give up and not try as hard. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed and let them eat sugar cereal, watch TV all day, and fail school.
But this morning as I lay in shavasana a tear rolled down my cheek again. Yes, we had done major pigeon poses again, and this time I understood the failed German Chocolate Cake more clearly.
I remembered I put the time and effort into the fancy cake because I wanted Chad to know that I love him. That was my goal, and despite the taste of the cake, that goal was met. Chad knew I loved him.
So it is with my children — they might not turn out like I hope; they might chose another path; they might majorly screw up; they might not listen to a thing I say — but they will know, from my efforts, that I love them.
So I’ve decided that, in my case, effort doesn’t equal outcome; effort equals love.
I will continue to teach, train, hug, snuggle, discipline, and remind because I love them. I will continue to come up with new routines, new lessons, new methods, new ideas, and new strategies in parenting because I love them. I will continue to try to provide healthy meals and help them with their education despite complaints because I love them.
I will keep trying with my children because I love them, not because anything I do actually works.
(I am going to try that German Chocolate Cake recipe again this weekend, by the way, because I also know how to get up when I fall.)