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crybaby Sometimes family traditions are born out of moments which are not fond memories. Tonight we partake in a tradition created during a time that was pretty dark; but this is not a hopeless blog post. The 11-year-old tradition itself is actually a delicious one for our family: we are eating chocolate cake for dinner!

Tonight when Josh announced it, the kids cheered. He asked them if they knew why we did this?  Eleanor guessed, “because you love us?” Maggie said, “because it tastes so yummy?” Both answers are sort of right. But the more detailed account goes something like this…

When Eleanor was born, we’d just moved into a tiny apartment in Half Moon Bay, California. We were overwhelmed with the newness of having our first baby: the sweet smell, the tiny pink clothing, that fact that someone let us take this baby home without so much as even passing a test. Everything was sleeping and peeping those first few days, it seemed pretty easy. But then something happened. Something wasn’t right, and she began crying. She cried. And cried. And CRIED. She cried so much that we began to question our parenting skills. Then we questioned her health. We questioned the meaning of life. When no answers seemed to present themselves about why-dear Universe why-was this happening and more importantly why couldn’t we help our child, we became exhausted.

It was a kind of exhaustion I didn’t know existed, which is saying a lot considering I’d just delivered a huge baby. We were confused. We cried too. We couldn’t sleep. We finally couldn’t think straight. We argued. And through it all there was the incessant crying.  Our parents were thousands of miles away. We hadn’t made any friends yet. It. Was. Awful. On one particularly bad day, Josh came home from work and found Eleanor and I sitting on the couch right where he’d left us that morning. He said something like, “Let’s just find one thing we can accomplish today.  How about making dinner?”

I nodded. I could do that. I walked to the pantry and said, “The first thing I see when I open this door, is what we’re having for dinner.”

It was a box of chocolate cake mix.

We made that cake together, and it was good.

Eleanor, of course, disagreed. But just that once. In all the times we’ve served it since, she’s never shed a tear. I don’t know what the moral of the story is here; it’s not like we make the cake so we can sit around remembering how bad it was back then. I guess it’s just a celebration of how we all pulled through it and how it made us all grow up.

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