Some years we sat at the boondocks of my mother’s mind, waiting for her to show the slightest attention. Some years, we were all she had. We played the part of anchors, support, canes, crutches, and the wheelbarrows of her life. It was backbreaking work and we’d ask for raises in our allowances. Then stopped asking and took the bills from her purse. In spite of the night shifts, double shifts, graveyard shifts. Even when my father bought a portable radio on a credit card to sit in his car for 8 hours on Saturdays, working as a security guard to pay for his kids’ three cars. Some years were like that, but not always.
We’d sit in the boondocks of her mind, at the periphery of conscious effort and wait for her to say, “Good job,” on my sister’s schoolwork, my poems, my brother’s career. When it didn’t come, we wouldn’t ask. She was busy, she was tired, she was mad no one put away the dishes and did she have to do everything around here?
She was every manifestation of Shiva and every epithet of Hera. As much an orphan as she was a mother. As much a Madonna as she was child. How hard she worked until her fingers bruised and calloused. Her kisses were tender when she’d check our foreheads for fevers. She fell asleep more than once waiting for the birthday cake to finish in the oven. One year we ate at the mall food court when I turned nine.
I left home when I was seventeen. When I moved to California and I hated the first house I had with my boyfriend, I called my mother and cried on the way home from school. She said I was too much to handle now, that all I ever did was bitch and moan. I hung up and didn’t call her back for two months.
But things change, I grew up. I forgave but the dust motes of resentment still hit the sunlight sometime. I never let it settle for long. This is the first year I’m celebrating Mother’s Day with her in six years, the first time in six years I can hand her a card and hug her tight. She makes the coffee every morning and leaves me post-it notes of how she’ll miss me when she goes to work. She took me in when that same boy in California kicked me out. She took me in even after all the time passed in wasted silence. She was a tough mom, an angry mom, a sad mom. But she’s also the only other person I know who has had to reinvent themselves more than they can count. And now she sits, crocheting in her reclining chair, being the anchor to some slowly dissolving memory I have of how it was, and just how good I had it.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Ginger-Orange Layer Cake
This cake celebrates spring and the harsh, bitter, and sweet of any relationship. Three layers, swathed in buttercream and sprinkles, with layers of a quick orange marmalade in between. Makes a three-layer cake, 6 inches in diameter
Ingredients for the Quick Orange Marmalade
- 1 large orange, washed
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 TB grated fresh ginger
- 2 TB water
Directions for Quick Orange Marmalade
- Cut the top and bottom of the orange and then cut into 8 sections
- In a food processor, pulse whole orange until it is finely pureed and no large chunks are visible
- In a saucepan, add all ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes or until marmalade begins to congeal
- Take off heat and allow to cool
- Note: this is a quick jam just for this recipe with no proper canning technique involved
Ingredients for Cake
- 3 ½ cup AP flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cup sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup shortening
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1 ¼ cup milk
- 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoon orange zest
Directions for Cake
- Preheat oven to 350*F and prepare pans with butter and parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside
- In a measuring cup, whisk to combine milk, vanilla, and vinegar and set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add honey, sugar, and fats. With the paddle attachment, beat until mixture is pale and fluffy
- Add one egg at a time, do not add subsequent egg until first is fully incorporated
- With mixer on low, alternate between adding the flour and the milk mixture until batter is formed
- Stir in ginger and orange zest
- Pour into prepare pans (or pan, if you have to reuse) and bake each layer for 40-45 minutes until a knife comes out clean
- Allow to cool completely before assembling
- Note: While baking, use this buttercream recipe and add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger if you so desire
Assembly: Use squares of parchment paper under the first layer of the cake to help with a clean finish on the icing. Lay one cake layer down, add your marmalade, then the second cake layer, more marmalade, then final cake layer. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Take out of the fridge and add a crumb coat, return to fridge for 30 minutes. Remove and add final layer of buttercream, using a large angled spatula knife and a bench scraper for those fine edges. Finally, you can decorate as I did, with sprinkles by basically putting some in your hand and gently pressing into the cake. Repeat until fully covered. Removed parchment squares. Enjoy!