The Washing Machine Cake (or When I Knew There Was a Problem)

8690638078_5f4b725ff7_z Photo Credit: Flickr

The reasons I have for starting Lost and Found Mama are many, but one particular story stands out to me. I can remember this clearly, even though it was several years ago. I think that’s how you know a memory is important, a catalyst—it stays and stays and sticks. It’s like pine pitch. Just won’t go away.

It was October of a few years back, and I was planning out a cake for hubs’ birthday. Back then, I was only working part time, so I had enough sanity to actually put some thought into things like birthdays, and I decided to make him a Jeep cake. The man has an acute love of all things Jeep. We own many of them in all states of “project car”. Anyway, after much research, I designed a cake that looked exactly like the grill of one of his projects. Well, not exactly. I mean, it’s cake and frosting and I am not a magician. Puh-leeze. But it was at least a close likeness. I think. Can I just tell you know how hard it is to make tan icing? Lordy.

After the birthday fanfair was over and the cake had been eaten, hubs asked my kids what kind of cakes they would pick if they could have their own. I am sure that they said something like a Barbie cake (my girl) or a Thomas cake (little man). It was a benign question, just chit-chat with little kids.

And then he asked what kind of cake Mommy should have.

And after a pause, my daughter proudly exclaimed, “A washing machine cake!” I remember it. I know where I was standing, and I can still feel the expression on my face, the tears that came immediately. What???? Hubs asked WHY she thought I would like a washing machine cake (while his face froze in disbelief, I remember his look—so worried I would freak out), and she said that I must like washing machines because that’s how I spend my time. OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES. I left the room to pull it together. Daddy spends his time working on Jeeps. Mommy spends her time doing laundry. Completely logical for a three year old.

I was crushed for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, she was absolutely right. I DID spend all my time doing laundry. And dishes. And picking up. And cooking. I was a MOM for heaven’s sake. That’s what we DO. But the problem was that these were the only things she was seeing me do. She was seeing her dad pursue hobbies and passions, and her mom? Laundry. Dirty underpants were my recreational pursuit. How on EARTH was I supposed to set an example for my kids about following your dreams and doing what you love if I wasn’t LIVING it?

This episode was probably four or five years ago now. The memory is fuzzier around the edges, sepia-toned, but still evokes the same emotions. Did I try to rectify it? Of course I did. I religiously went to yoga classes for a year, but that rigid time commitment, combined with the astronomical price, led to the demise of that endeavor. I have sporadically picked up running here and there, even participating in my first 5K, but I haven’t really stuck with it. I’ve joined Weight Watchers to show my kids that mom is trying to be healthy. I enjoy crafting, but don’t get around to it on a regular basis. Nothing has stuck. I still haven’t found a “thing”.

Know why? It’s because I am LOST.

Maybe you aren’t lost, like me. Perhaps you have a solid identity and an authentic life, and you can’t really relate to what I’m saying. Guess what–that’s freaking awesome!!! Good for you. Go out there and kill it, darling, because the world needs far more authentic folks like you. But my guess is that this problem I have, this lack of identity and authenticity, is the problem of lots of other gals out there, too. It’s not entirely our fault.  We are daughters, then girlfriends and wives, then mothers, and also working women, and we wear all of those hats with pride. We are bombarded with media “informing” us 24/7, and it’s really difficult to filter all of that.  But at some point, we either lose ourselves, or if you’re extra lucky like me, have never found ourselves in the first place. My guess is that there’s a whole tribe of us out there, wandering around, wondering who EXACTLY we are when it comes down to brass tacks.

We flit from thing to thing. Or we go flat and do nothing (I wrote about the fear of going flat here). But an authentic, one-of-a-kind, true-to-who-I-am life just eludes us. Well, dears, I plan to write my way out. I have a hunch that writing and sharing my path, sharing my struggles and putting them out there, will help me find true self and my passions. And I think it might help you too, sweet reader. My hope is that by taking you along for my crazy ride, you might embark on a ride of your own, one where you find YOUR true self.

Philosopher Harold Whitman said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”

This journey is fantastic and terrifying, but I plan to come alive! Won’t you come along? There may even be cake! But it surely will NOT be shaped like a washing machine…


  1. I found your blog because I realize I have lost myself and google led me to you. I’ve been so busy being a mom for 16 years that I now have no idea what I like to do and I am struggling. I appreciate your writing because I feel the same way!

    1. Isn’t it great to find a kindred spirit, Paula? Hang in there, lady! We will muddle through this murky business together!

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