I was going to bake a cake today, just to do something nice for myself and to detract from Father’s Day emotional turmoil.
I used to love baking. I could bake anything: brownies, cookies, pies, cupcakes. I was especially known for my pineapple upside-down cake. People would over me money just to bake things for them. I did it for free because I was more than satisfied just seeing other people happy. I was good at baking, and I was good at making people smile.
But as I started baking more, my mother became more angry. She’d yell at me for using up all of her electricity. She’d yell at me for using her oven (it wasn’t even hers – we rented). She’d yell at me for making the house hot. She’d yell at me for taking up space in the kitchen.
A task I once enjoyed now became another cause for punishment. I started baking less and less. People would ask me to bake them something and I would come up with excuses. I was afraid to anger my mother any more than my existence already had.
One day, against my what-should-have-been better judgment, I decided to bake a cake for a really good friend and coworker of mine. It was just one cake, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I wouldn’t take up much space or get in anyone’s way. This should be just fine.
Then, as I was sitting at my corner of the table, putting the finishing touches of icing on the cake, my mother came in and started questioning me. I reluctantly told her who it was for. Big mistake.
You never do anything for me. You treat your coworkers better than your own mother. They don’t do anything for you. I gave you life and I get nothing! Not even a cake! It’s always about everyone else, never about your own family. I deserve better and I can’t even get a cake.
The cake ended up on the floor and I retreated to my room, crying. I was so ashamed walking into work the next day without the cake I had been so excited about making.
Just to please my mother, I started baking things for her, thinking it would earn me some sort of respect or a shred of kindness. But it didn’t. Baking wasn’t fun anymore. It didn’t give me any pleasure. My mother sucked all of the positive out of it, just as she had done with everything else in my life.
Today, as I stood in the baking aisle of the grocery store, staring at the baking supplies, I remembered that night my cake was ruined. I remembered the anger and rage my mother had. I remembered how scared I had become whenever I’d bake something. And I walked away from the aisle empty-handed.
She won today.