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On Being Gracious…

I kind of lost my mind last night.  Over cupcakes. It’s a long story, and pretty embarrassing, so I won’t bore you with the details. Really, it was less about me eating cupcakes (for once), and more about me throwing them.

At the wall.  Ah-hem.  (For those of you who have never lost your temper, all I can say is: good for you.)

Well, fine… it’s a long story, but I tell long stories all the time.  So here goes.

I made these egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free cupcakes for our dear boy’s 6th birthday party at school.  The Expert reminded me, “Aren’t we only allowed to bring in cupcakes from designated bakeries?” (Apparently, lots of allergies at this school. I get it.)

“Yes, I said. But look – I followed all the rules.”  (I had even taped the box inside the cupcake carrier to prove that I followed the rules.)

Only, I hadn’t followed the rules.  The rules were: buy cupcakes from these bakeries.  Which is weird, because I am such a rule follower.  I am in compliance for my profession, for Pete’s sake. In high school, my art teacher made me wear a pinned-on paper tail, because I was a Tattle Tail.  I follow rules.

But for some reason, I was rebelling against these particular rules.

The kids were in the bed.  I was finishing up the cupcakes.  And the Expert said, “Well, I’m not taking these cupcakes to school with him in the morning, if you can’t follow the rules.”  After I had spent the time and money and energy shopping and making them—-and even though he was technically right —–well, I kind of lost my mommy mind.

In that case, I thought, the WALL can have these cupcakes!!!!!

And I tossed the entire cupcake carrier into the wall of the Hell Kitchen (which is made of cinderblock, BTW), so it cracked and made a mess.

It was not my proudest moment.  In fact, that cupcake carrier was the one thing that actually made me feel like a real mother. Only real mothers have cupcake carriers, right?  I mean, that’s some sort of certification or badge or graduation… sheesh.  [Please don’t comment on that… I really do know that’s not true. This is the part of the post I call sarcasm.]


I was pretty horrified at my behavior.  But I realized that I not only had the wrong cupcakes for my kid… but after I threw the cupcakes, I had nothing for his school lunch party. So at midnight, I’m in Target rounding up goody bags for him to take to school for his friends (spending entirely more money than simple cupcakes from a designated bakery would have been, mind you.)

Only to drop the kids at school this morning, goody bags and all, and have the teacher say, “You could have just brought ice cream.”

Ice cream.  So I went to the grocery store.

(Did I mention that I missed my spin class this morning?  So instead of driving to the grocery store, I took off running for the grocery store. Then I realized, that I am really appearing to be slipping into insanity and I did have to go to work afterwards….  SO I ran back to the car. And drove to the store.  I picked up ice cream.  I realized my back left tire was low on air. So I pumped that with my portable tire pumper for the car, and then I drove  back to school with ice cream [but not before stopping for bagel with cream cheese! and feeling like a complete and utter failure.])

I lost my temper last night. I failed at ice cream. I ate garbage. I am weighing about 438 pounds right now.  I haven’t worked out since Saturday.  Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Whiny pants central.  No real perspective.  What else is new, people…

After the ice cream was dropped off.  After the bagel had been devoured. The silence set in.

And I remembered a really fabulous part of this morning. (Besides it being cold enough for fabulous hats!!! Yay!)


As as usual —- when I am reminded to get my act together, to have some perspective —I was once again, floored.

Around 6:30 this morning, Stella, the Swim Bike Girl, woke up as I was making James his birthday breakfast.  (The birthday breakfast was:  eggs, bacon, oranges and two salvaged birthday cupcakes.)

Stella said to me in her squealing voice, “Today is James’ birthday!”  And she ran to his room and woke him up.

James, the Swim Bike Birthday Boy, now age SIX, came teetering into the kitchen to find a present, a sign and a general celebration for his birthday.

Stella had made him a card which was so sweet and beautiful.  She was genuinely happy for him, genuinely happy that it was his birthday.

James said, “Stella, you tried really hard on my card and I like it.”


Stella said, “I love you James.  I am happy you are six. I am happy that my brother is six.”

They jabbered a little more back and forth…. what kind of cake will you have… what does six feel like… are you going to be taller today...

And my eyes welled up with tears… because I recognized not only how wonderful it all is… but really, just how gracious my daughter is.

To be happy for James. To celebrate the birthday of her brother.  It struck me as incredibly wise and kind and gracious for a four year-old. I would expect whining and “why isn’t it MY birthday” and that kind of thing.  But no. She was thrilled, because he was thrilled.  She was happy for him.

Pure grace. (Grace in leopard print leggings, to boot.)

And a complete juxtaposition to my thirty-three year old behavior …less than twelve hours before.

I’ve never been graceful—in reality or in physique. I have always had a rotten, ill-timed temper.  I have always been shamefully clumsy.  But today, I learned a very big lesson from my daughter.

That grace of spirit, not physique, is the true thing of beauty.

And I’m a big, clumsy work in progress. But at least I have a role model.


Happy Friday, my friends…

…Now, to go order another cupcake carrier from Amazon…


  • Kristy

    October 25, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I cried while reading this. We can learn so much from our kids sometimes….and yes, I have been there done that with the cupcakes and Target run at midnight. You are a great mom and person! Enjoy your son’s sixth birthday!

  • Allison Longenberger

    October 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I had a tough moment last too and also have quite a temper. I really needed this today! Thanks Meredith (great name by the way…I have a sister Meredith) 🙂

  • tg

    October 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    It gets easier when they’re teenagers and start throwing things at walls too. It’s nice for families to have things they do together.
    Same rule-following and rule-breaking compulsions for me. I wonder what’s up with that.

  • Laura Haskins

    October 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks SO much for the laugh! Our youngest turns 9 today – NINE!! So, Happy Birthday to your James, and our Krista!!!

    Oh, and yesterday, my Mom came down and made the cupcakes for school today… =)

  • Joan Kane

    October 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Stella, with her little girl preciousness, managed to cut through all the grown up clutter we (moms) attach to birthdays and other special events to experience pure joy for her brother. Learn from her, indeed. And I will too. Happy birthday James!

  • Andrea2

    October 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Sometimes, I think we need that juxtaposition of extremes in order to see them for what they truly are. Like you might not have really recognized and appreciated her graciousness if you hadn’t lost your temper the night before. But anyway, it’s a VERY sweet story. Life is always a work in progress 🙂

  • Trish

    October 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I really need to stop reading your posts at work. People already think I’m nuts without walking in on me crying because a kiddo who is not mine turned six ;). Happy Birthday to James and Mere, you are raising that gracious girl. Good on you!

  • Colleen

    October 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    I thought throwing the cupcakes was a great alternative to eating them all which is definitely how I would have handled the situation. I am no stranger to adult temper tantrums so next time I will pause before I binge and consider throwing the food across the room. Thank you for sharing!

    • Heidi

      October 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Me too – I’d have eaten them all and blamed/hated everyone in frustration, and then hated myself for eating them all – instead of just being angry and throwing them. Honestly – I think it’s a great idea, and I should try throwing food instead of shoving it in my face next time I lose my temper. 🙂

  • Mo

    October 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Ok, I’m the sappy cry at every hallmark commercial mom and this has me bawling. I’ve been here, all too often. My temper explodes. Although I have never thrown cupcakes (and I do have the cupcake carrier-double teared and all)!!! And lately my temper has gotten the best of me due to many reasons, but all my fault. You are an amazing mother, and this just reminds me that I am human, and that we do learn so much from our kids. One day one of my twins said to me “mommy, why are you so angry?” It broke my heart. So now I try to hard to not show my emotions around them. Only good emotions for the most part. Some days are much easier than others. You did good Mere!

    Happy Birthday James!!!! And way to go Stella!

  • Nancy M

    October 26, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Great post. So easy to put ourselves down, but hey, you are raising Stella so you can’t be all that bad, right?! Hugs to you… adorable pic of the Swim Bike Kids 🙂

  • Ali

    October 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    That picture of her at the end tugs every Mommy heart string I have. My daughter is why I do EVERYTHING I do; why I got for and healthy and TRY to not throw things at the walls SO much. And stopped doing less healthy things as well- AHem. They’ll get ya every time. BTW, her grace doesn’t come from nowhere!


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