Friday Feels: Baking Strawberry Cakes
My daughter will be 1 year old tomorrow (I’m writing this on Thursday night).
And I just baked a homemade strawberry cake with a cute little “1” candle on it for us to eat tomorrow morning (yes, cake for breakfast on your birthday)!
We will sing Las Mañanitas, followed by Feliz Cumpleaños, then the traditional Happy Birthday, then the Stevie Wonder Happy Birthday. Why so many songs, you ask? Because it’s a celebration so you sing every birthday song you can think of!
1 year with Adriana Marie Mayfield-Larrea in the world making this place more hopeful and more joyful (and God knows we all need some hope and joy right now).
But the remarkable thing to me as I sit here tonight is that I baked a cake.
If you know me, then you know I love to cook. It’s a way to let off steam at the end of stressful days and unwind. Cooking is intuitive for me and I never follow recipes, instead I feel where the spirit moves me.
Cooking, I love. Baking, not so much.
You see, with baking you have to follow a very specific prescription or else you risk presenting your daughter with a birthday brick and hope she doesn’t chip one of those newly minted teeth in that little cheeky grin.
I don’t like baking because it constrains me, and usually when I’m constrained I opt-out.
And yet, here I am, joyfully baking a strawberry cake for her because that’s her fruit du jour these days.
I told Carlos tonight as I popped the cake in the oven that I was “trying to be a good dad.”
If that doesn’t sum up this last year I don’t know what does.
Trying to be a good dad.
That’s the thing about fatherhood — it pushes you into a new territory.
Without noticing it, suddenly you’re tying ponytails, tending diaper rashes, turning your living room into a veritable Toys ‘R Us, and making your lips buzz and weird faces to make another little human squeal with delight.
As I think about this past year I am reminded of all that I have done for love of this little girl whose outside matches her inside.
I remember sitting in the NICU on one particular day for 18 hours straight, holding her against my bare chest so that she could rest and sleep knowing that daddy was there.
I remember walking 11 miles with her because I wanted to show her the Golden Gate Bridge, but we couldn’t take Lyft or MUNI yet because she hadn’t had her vaccines (spoiler alert: San Francisco has a LOT of hills)!
I remember struggling to get her to sit still as I attempted to tie her first ponytail, only to have it yanked out 17 seconds later.
I remember bolting from bed the first time she woke up with a bad dream screaming out in the middle of the night for her daddy to hold her and remind her it will all be okay.
And know here I sit, admiring the homemade strawberry cake that will be sure to bring a smile followed by a knowing grin as she realizes tomorrow that something about May 27th is special in this house.
I’m sure I will be an emotional wreck tomorrow.
If you read these with any regularity it’s no surprise I’m a sentimental guy with a sensitive soul.
But deeper than the surface-level memories and cute Reels that will get posted, I will ponder the impact this little human has had on the world so far in her first year.
She can vacillate from sheer enchantment to rage so quick it makes your head spin, reminding me that happiness is truly a choice.
She is fierce in her independence, reminding me that we are the masters of our own destiny in this life.
She is friendly and never meets a stranger (especially when riding the bus), reminding me to look up and prioritize seeing the people around me especially when life is going fast.
When I first held her I knew something was special about this little lady.
She’s changed my world in ways I could not have imagined.
And when you love someone that deeply, when they change your life in that kind of way, you gladly pull out your Kitchen Aid mixer and bake the best damn strawberry cake you can.
Just to see them smile on their 1st birthday.
Take care of each other, mi gente.