He bakes good cakes…

March-May 2008 393

…and I just run around the kitchen like an obedient, but clueless sous-chef:

"Babygirl, pass me the 8-inch springform pans, please."


"The ones with the latches on the side and the bottom that comes out."

"Oh. Why didn't you say that in the first place?"

I wonder, thirteen years ago on the night of my high school graduation when he asked me to marry him, if he had any idea what a bum deal he was getting. I don't cook. I can cook, but I just don't. He does most of the cleaning. On a good day I might wash some clothes, but I guess we're fairly even
on that because both of us despise any and all things related to
laundry (except sniffing the detergent – that's pretty fun. Simple
pleasures). He does nearly all of the grocery shopping because I can't stick to a budget to save my life. He can take $100 and feed a family of seven for a week (I'm not over-exaggerating). Other than the mortgage, I can't tell you how much the rest of our bills are. I can only make foggy guesses as to what the general ranges of our bank account balances are. I make the money (most of it, anyway), it gets deposited into our account, and what happens to it after that is almost a mystery to me. I just know the end result, which is after Frank spends an hour at the laptop clicking from one e-bill to the next and says, "Everything's paid."

"Good," I say, "now let's go spend some money doing something fun with the Brat Pack." That's about the extent of my contribution to the money distribution. We're like a human mullet – he's the business in the front; I'm the party in the back.


Thanks to watching my irresponsible stepfather (who was my main father figure from age 2 and I'll refer to him as SF) practically run my mom, sisters, and I into financial ruin, I'd grown to be a kick-ass-and-take-names type of woman from watching my mother's kick-ass-and-take-names tactics. For example – my freshman year in high school, my SF stupidly took an early retirement from the Army for a lump sum of $30,000. He had just three years to go before earning a full retirement with complete salary and benefits for life. He bought a house – again, Mom thought it was better to wait. About a year later, Mom just happened to be looking for some odd object when she happened to find an ill-hidden statement from the mortgage company saying that on DD/MM/YYYY YOU WILL BE EVICTED IF $XXXX IN UNPAID MORTGAGE IS NOT IN OUR OFFICE BY DD/MM/YYYY. The date was just two weeks away, and the letter had been received three weeks prior to Mom's discovery of it. It was a shock, to say the least, because she had been told by SF that the mortgage was being paid. His family was about to be evicted in two weeks, and he'd not said a single word to her about it.

So, she did what any kick-ass-and-take-names woman would do. That week, SF was away at Reserves drill as part of his early retirement stipulation. Mom rented a house and moved us in. SF returned that weekend to an empty house, save for a single Post-it note stuck to the refrigerator with only our new phone number written on it. It was their 12th anniversary weekend. Touchรฉ. Kick-ass with a side of class.

That event and others through the following years (Mom gave SF other chancess and he'd find some fresh way to fuck it up again) delivered one solitary message to me – keep your hands and eyes on the finances at all times. It's better to take care of things yourself and know they're done instead of entrusting someone else to do them for you.


We're comfortable now and have been for a while, but a few years back we hit a rough patch and things were very tight for us. Every month, I'd worry myself to the extent that I felt physically ill. Looking back, I probably worried more than the situation warranted. Worrying over finances had become ingrained through years of watching my mother, who for all intents and purposes was a single parent, struggle to make ends meet. I'd look at the bills, crunch the numbers, curse and cry, and work myself into a near-depression month after month. The only thing that calmed me down was Frank, his eternally laid-back, smooth as silk demeanor, and his gentle but firm reminders that we were fine and that things always ended up working themselves out. I'd mellow out, and just as Frank said, things would work out. Then the next month rolled around and it would start all over again. Finally one month in a fit of tears I said, "You know what? I can't do this anymore. Every month I get all worked up trying to figure everything out, you end up figuring everything out by yourself, you calm me down again, and I realize that I freak out more than I have to. So forget it – I'm just not dealing with it anymore. You do it, and don't tell me what you're going to do until it's done. I'm not going to worry anymore." And he did. And I didn't.

And though I see it clearly now, it took a while for me to realize why that was such a huge step for me to take. I had given over all control to him, which is something on which I felt I always had to keep a tight grip.  I had always loved and completely trusted Frank, even through the clumsy high school sweetheart phase and through the emotionally rocky first couple of years of our young marriage. But it wasn't until that point, more than eight years into our marriage, that I realized I had finally completely given myself over to him, handing him a piece of me that I didn't even know I had been keeping to myself – that part of me that had hardened in defense of being fully vulnerable. Our marriage was already solid, but I felt it strengthen even more and I felt my love for him grow once again. It is a truly powerful love, one which can break through the steely subconscious restraints of a childhood damage.

There are an endless number of reasons why I love Frank, but this is probably the top reason: that in my need for control, I can make the decision not to have control, and I love and trust him so much that I know my family and I will be fine. Our children will never have to lose trust in their father's ability to care for his family the way I did. I am lucky and so blessed that unknowingly, Frank was able fill a hole that I did not know was there until after he filled it.

It is our 12th year anniversary, and instead of a Post-it note and an empty house there are snoring children down the hall, a wife spoiled rotten by a man who sounds a bit like Scooby-Doo when he laughs, and a homemade cream-cheese pound cake in the oven. He asked for the Bundt pan this time (I knew that one).

Love you, babe, and not just because you bake good cakes.

Moxie & Frank Christmas 2007

Submitted for Mel's Show and Tell ~ who else is in the classroom this week?

35 thoughts on “He bakes good cakes…”

  1. What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing.
    I never had that level of financial stress as a kid, but I still walked away with an insane need to know what was happening money wise (but I have little skill, just a lots of ‘shoulds’ in my head that I don’t know how to actually do)…
    Perhaps it is time for me to relax a bit and have a bit of trust:)
    Happy aniversary!

  2. Awwwwww. And yum.
    I think in any marriage you make these decisions not only to play to strengths, but to keep each other sane. For years, *I’ve* paid bills because my procrastinator husband was giving me agita doing it late all the time. I decided I would happier knowing they were done on time, and if not, that it was my fault. So I get this, totally. Plus? Mine cooks and makes pies.
    Happy Anniversary!

  3. OMG! I loved this post. Beautiful! That cake (yummm). That man! You give him a lot of credit, Miss Moxie, but don’t forget all the bits that you contribute! First and foremost, you picked him, and that takes a lot of smarts! My mom always said, “choose wisely..it’s more than half the battle.” But, as we all know, you are a Smart One! Happy anniversary! I loved the idea of wearing rings on a necklace, so I’m off to find a strong chain to do it myself.

  4. This is such a beautiful post. What a wonderful man and marriage.
    It is strange, my parents were the most disciplined and budgeted parents, and built up a fortune over the years until I was in high school. I take care of all this bills and stress out a lot over money, but I am AWFUL with it. Yes I pay bills on time but I spend it all the time, spend what I don’t have often and am horribly undisciplined when it comes to saving. I actually love cooking and laundry but hate dusting. lol
    I also hope to find a partner so well suited some day that I will eventually feel comfortable giving over trust to.
    Happy Anniversary to you both.
    And Frank, post the recipe!!!

  5. What a wonderful tribute to your marriage. Happy Anniversary! (P.S. – my husband does most of the cooking and stuff around the house too).

  6. Happy Anniversary! Your post has me laughing and wanting to cry (due to the sweetness.) I am so glad that you have such a good relationship, it’s something most people only dream about. I’m a lucky girl with my husband too. Your reference to the human mullet is genius, pure genius. I honestly think you need to patent that phrase ๐Ÿ™‚ And thanks for checking in to see how I’m doing. Can you be any more of a sweetheart? I’ve just been lazy and been engrossed in catching up with last season’s America’s Next Top Model that they’re replaying every wednesday night that I’ve been DVRing. I’m glad you’re doing okay and keep up that cooking – or assistant cooking ๐Ÿ™‚ ((hugs))

  7. human mullet — that’s hilarious!
    I cal SO identify with keeping the wall up to protect your vulnerability. I did the same things for years, raised to be independent and didn’t see why that would change. letting go was a huge step.
    I LOVE that pic of you and frank. there is so much love in that one image, beaming from your eyes, your smiles, and even your hands. just beautiful. happy anniversary, and thanks for sharing your story. (btw, our 12th is next wk-end!)

  8. Ack. My nose is all tingly and I have a big stupid smile on my face after reading this.
    Happy Anniversary!

  9. Heart warming post and a beautiful picture at the end! Congratulations on 12 years of marriage. Here’s to many more to come!

  10. Happy Anniversary!
    I think in any marriage you need to play to your strengths. You guys seem to have it right down! In my house I do the cakes and the money – he does the bread and the diy – it seems to work.

  11. Sooo sweet…how lucky you both are to have each other! Hope you’ve having a wonderful weekend and have many, many more years together.

  12. Wow – and that last picture made me cry, you human mullet you looking at each other that way. Though maybe I can blame the tears on the lupron or the fact I haven’t seen a cake that looked that good in ages!
    Happy 12th anniversary – wishing you many many more and definitely many more scrumptious looking cakes!

  13. He sounds wonderful, a dream come true!! You both must be amazing!! Loved your story.
    Alyson LID 01/27/06 (IA China)

  14. happy anniversary!!
    i can definatly empathise with your story on a lot of different levels, i am glad you have come out of it soaring! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Happy Anniversary, guys! The both of you are so blessed to have each other.
    p.s. Frank should have a recipe blog! hint hint

  16. That cake looks delicious! Happy anniversary! What a cool post! Any time you have an extra one of those cakes lyin’ around, I will have noooo problem taking it off your hands!

  17. What a wonderful man you have there- and what a wondeful lady he has too. Happy 12th, we’re celebrating our 12th too in a few days.
    Have you started penning your book yet? If not, start. You write beautifully…..

  18. That is such a sweet post! It’s awesome that he still makes you feel that in love-I could see you smiling through your words.

  19. Wow, Moxie, beautiful post! Frank is a wonderful man, you two are lucky to have eachother!

  20. Happy anniversary! I’m hear from Blogger Bingo. 12 years, how fantastic! I’m also a can cook, but don’t cook girl. My husband does LOVE cooking though.

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