Saturday, September 18, 2021

This cake is not about you

One of the best things that I've learned about life, which I'm probably still learning, is that the world isn't about me. Life isn't about me. 

People who do things typically aren't doing them to me. 

Most people in the world haven't considered me at all. 

And...that's okay. 

Considering others and how your actions influence them is important. But at the same time...everyone is just out there living their life and no one is living their life "at" you. No one is living their life "at" me. 

I'm good at some things and those things that I'm good at? I don't do those things "at" anybody else. I typically do them because they bring me joy and fulfillment. I don't think I should have to not do those things—or talk about those things—because other people feel threatened by them. 
I suppose things could get to the point where talking about your accomplishments could be considered boasting, but I think that usually happens when there's an overt comparison happening (not an assumed comparison; an overt comparison). It's not the same thing when you assume someone is saying something in order to make you feel inferior...when they never mentioned you and it was never about you at all. Boasting is when the person actively seeks to make you feel inferior. Like, for example, bringing up the size and assumed cost of their wedding ring versus yours and how much bigger and shinier and prettier and costlier theirs was, compared to the piece of trash you're wearing on your finger.

This is a real life example. 

Honestly, it didn't make me feel inferior because I 100% don't care about jewelry...which is why I picked out the dainty, unassuming, inexpensive (yet tasteful (not trashy), in my opinion) piece that I did. I did wonder, though, why this individual felt so pressed to make such flamboyant observations about our rings. She could have simply spoken of her own ring without mentioning mine at all, which would have helped me feel happier for her. I was still happy for her...but I was also annoyed...because she made it about me with her overt comparison. 

An assumed comparison would be a comparison that happens inside your own head. 

So if someone says something like, "Breastfeeding has been such a joy for me! I've absolutely loved bonding with my baby in this way! Although it's been difficult at times, I've been blessed to never struggle with supply issues and have enjoyed knowing both my baby and I are reaping health benefits (such as lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and breast cancer for myself, and increased antibodies for the baby)!"

And you interpret that to mean, "They are shaming me because I had to (or chose to) use formula. They think I'm a failure of a mother and a terrible person."

That comparison is all going on inside your brain

That's a you thing (I mention this because "breastfeeding week" was a mess of mom-shaming online and just...come on...let's not do that).

People are allowed to talk about their accomplishments, their sources of joy, their life without having it be about you.

I keep saying you. 

Rest assured I mean "me."

See, having gestational diabetes tends to make me feel a little grumpy. 

This is the start of my cake rant. 

Rachel is making the most delectable smelling/sounding cake for Andrew's birthday. It's a vanilla-apple-caramel cake. She made vanilla cake (from scratch), then filled the layers with apple pie filling (from scratch) and caramel (also from scratch). And, guys, it smells divine

I won't be able to have any because my pancreas and placenta are at odds with each other right now and the slightest thing will set me off on a rollercoaster of trying to regain control of my blood sugar numbers. Seriously. Like, I'll think to myself, "Oh, my breakfast numbers are well within range. Surely I can steal a single slice of this peach I'm cutting up to go along with Alexander's breakfast and have my number still be just fine." 


That single slice of peach will spell my doom. My breakfast number will be off, and then my other numbers will be off for the rest of the day. And it's just pandemonium. And then I cry because I'm pregnant and emotional and just want to do a good job for my baby (and me, but mostly for baby). 

My sweet little kids know my evening number is my trickiest number so they watch me take my blood sugar with bated breath and when my glucometer beeps they'll whisper, "Is it a good number or a grumpy number?"

And if I say good then they cheer. 

And if I say grumpy, then they give me gentle pats and do their best not to pester me too much about extra privileges at bedtime (partly because they're considerate and partly because they know Mommy is much more liable to snap because a bad evening number leads to a bad fasting number the following morning...which leads to...increased grumpiness overall). 

Anyway, here's the thing: Rachel is not making this cake at me. She's not baking this cake to make me feel sad (that's coming from within (I'm not really sad; I'm fine (but I might put a piece of cake in the freezer to save for later (is that an overreaction?)))).

She's making a cake for her father because it's his birthday and because she loves him and because she enjoys baking. 

Honestly, I don't even factor in here. 

She frequently considers me, and makes me special things (waffles and pumpkin bread) using almond flour and sugar substitutes. But she doesn't always have to consider me. 

Because life. isn't. about. me.

Sometimes she thinks more about other people than she doesn't about me. 

And that's okay. 

Because it would be kind of rude of me to declare that no one shall have birthday cake ever again just because I can't have a piece. We haven't had birthday cake since July, for crying out loud (though I didn't have a piece then, either) and why do you think we're having all these kids if not for even more birthday cake?!

Anyway, I have this Twitter friend who is due about a month after I am...


Let me interrupt this story to tell you that Alexander just asked me what a blue bird is called. 

"'s called a bluebird," I told him because sometimes we're not very inventive as a human species.

"No, no," he said. "I mean, what's it called when you have a white bird with a blue background that's a little circle and it's on your phone."

"Oh, Twitter!"

"Yes, Twitter," he said, whipping a picture out from behind his back. "Anyway, I drew that!"

And he had, indeed, drawn the Twitter logo.

Now back to the story...


I have this friend on Twitter who is also pregnant. Sometimes she tweets things and I am not jealous. Like, for example, she recently suffered through COVID, even though she was vaccinated (breakthrough cases happen (with all vaccines); I encourage you to get vaccinated, anyway). It did not sound like a fun time and now her doctor is worried about her placenta because they've seen cases of placental deterioration...even in mothers who seem to have recovered fully from the virus. So that's fun for her to get to worry about for the next few months. 

She, herself, has recovered, though, and the other day she Tweeted about what a tragedy it is that she couldn't find a single milkshake place open past 10 PM where she lives because she really wanted a milkshake and pregnant women should not be denied their cravings. 

So she'd just have to get a milkshake tomorrow

And I'll admit that I had a moment of feeling a little rage-y because if there's one thing I've experienced, it's being denied pregnancy cravings. On the regular! 

Like, Miriam's entire pregnancy was lived out in Egypt, for one thing, and if you've ever tried to be pregnant in a foreign country you'd understand that there are certain things you simply can't find (which is why I legitimately asked for peanut butter at my baby shower...because I had friends with connections). And then every pregnancy after her, I've been diabetic for. 

So...I do the math. 

I learned long ago that cravings don't matter and that if I want a milkshake, that's just too darn bad. Even finding "keto" substitutes (which are much more plentiful now than they were ten years ago, at least it seems so to us...but it's also possible we simply have more money to play with and can rationalize some of these purchases now) doesn't always help because I have my meals all planned out and timed out and there isn't really room for "extras" in my diet plan...even if I wanted to sneak in a bowl of ice cream. Like...when would I do it when I have strict instructions from my nutritionist about how often I'm allowed to eat. I must go at least two hours between meals; I must not go more than 5 hours between meals. I must eat x-number of meals and snacks per day. But if I don't eat snack #2 by this time, then I won't be ready for meal #3 by that time, so snack #2 is at a strict time and must consist of x, y, and z and...

Yeah. It makes me feel things (sad, angry, victimized) when other pregnant women talk about indulging their cravings. But I have to recognize that those feelings are coming from within. It's a me thing, not a them thing. 

Her Tweet did not say, "I can have a milkshake and yo-o-o-o-o-u can't. Neener! Neener! Neener!" even if my brain initially wanted to interpret it that way. 

Her Tweet wasn't about me at all. It was about her and her pregnancy experience, which...honestly...hasn't been easy because being pregnant rarely is. She can have herself a milkshake if she wants to. She deserves it. 

I might deserve a milkshake as well, but physically I'm unable to...uhhh...imbibe...and that's not her issue. She doesn't have to dance around me and my issues. She was simply sharing a moment about her life. And that's her prerogative. She didn't do it at me.

And so-and-so didn't buy a fancy house with a pool at me.

And so-and-so didn't get pregnant at you.

And so-and-so didn't do her hair and makeup and get her toddler dressed in a cute matching, unstained outfit at me.

And so-and-so didn't make beautiful snacks for her children at you.

And so-and-so didn't run a marathon at me.

And so-and-so wasn't being breastfeeding positive at you.

And so-and-so didn't get a job at me.

And Rachel isn't baking this cake at me, either.

Instead of assuming that people are doing things—ordinary, mundane things!—like getting a great new job or falling pregnant or showing off an accomplishment or posting a picture of their delicious-looking pizza at you (or me)...assume that they're not.

Give room to your feelings. You can be sad that you missed out on that promotion. You can be distraught over a recent pregnancy loss. You can be jealous of their mad skills. You can drool over the pizza...and then resign yourself to a handful of almonds (again). 

But at the end of the day, I think it's healthier to be happy for them and to rejoice with them (or mourn with them, if need be) because it was never about you. And then look at your life and see what you want to do for you (because that part is about you). 

Be inspired by those around you. 

Do something awesome. 

But do it for you (not to stick it to anyone else). 

Again, when I say "you," I mean "me." 

Unless you want it to be you, then by all means, take my advice. 

Otherwise, you do you and consider this advice self-directed.

And that's my rant about cake (and life).

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

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