I remember the first time I held my son in my arms. As they handed me this child, I wondered: Dang, is his head going to stay that way? Then I got a good look at him. He kind of looked like a lizard. He had my eyes, and though one was closed, giving him this sort of Popeye the Sailor Man look – He has my eyes. My eyes set on a little stranger’s face with the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen on a boy.
I loved him instantly and at that very moment, solely. I felt my heart shove Mr. M.O.B. out of the way and allow it to envelop itself in this new little stranger, who ever so lazily punched my insides for at least 5 months.
I vowed to give him the upbringing I didn’t have
I vowed to be the best mom in the world
I vowed to love him unconditionally
I vowed to smother him in a constant stream of hugs and kisses
I vowed to embarrass the crap out of him once those teen years hit
I am NOT the best mom in the world. I’m not. I’ve done some shitty things. I found that even though I’m far removed from my upbringing, I’ve made mistakes of my own.
Mistakes I own up to.
Real Talk? Parenting is hard as f***. Raising a child right is the single most challenging thing you will ever face. Raising children is like dealing with mutant shifting antigen. Just when you feel you’ve got it down, you’ve beat it – BOOM – New mutation.
That tiny boy who idolized, who stuck to you like glue between the ages of 1 and 10 grows and changes. He becomes taller than you. He grows a mustache. He has an opinion. He questions, even challenges you. He no longer wants to hang with you, ’cause you’re a cornball now – And once that sweet boy reaches the age of 13, HE KNOWS.IT.ALL.
You find that sometimes… You don’t like that lil’ mofo.
It’s the damn truth. Any parent who tells me they like their kids 100% of the time is straight up lying. You can’t like them when they’ve barely passed a subject they should have breezed through – And their only excuse was, “Yea… There was just too much to memorize this term. You can’t expect me to spend all my time studying!”
Yet the recall in World of War Craft is BEYOND EXCELLENT.
But it’s your job to guide and push and pull. And when they think they know it all, you show them just who’s got a handle on those strings. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing puppet master to a puppet who’s become self-aware; who tries to cut those strings when I’m not looking. I think I just compared myself to Geppetto, people.
I love the crap out of him, though. Last night he lay down next to me, puts his long gorilla arm around me. What followed was a 10 minute shoving match with his sister who tried to take his spot. Once they stopped fighting (I secretly love when they fight over me), he allowed me to play with his hair and fell asleep next to me. The way he used to. They both fell asleep next to me, actually – And my heart filled with a love I can’t properly articulate. Despite the hardships and challenges, despite the attitude and the smart ass comments, those kids stick to me like a cinnabon bun. And I love that.
My son is turning 14. It’s his first year of high school, the start of a block years crucial to his development. The very last of those kid, kid years. These are the years which will define the man he is to become. I am drinking every second of him till he goes off to college and makes his mark in the world. I’m looking forward to them, with full body armor.
I’m not making this banana sticky bun bundt cake for his birthday; the boy’s requested another cake – Yet this cake kinda reminds me of my kids: Sticky, messy, and utterly irresistible.
It’s the ultimate upside down cake. Mashed banana, brown sugar, heavy cream and walnuts make a delicious caramel topping. The nutty banana caramel exterior gives way to a moist cake that is almost pudding-like in texture. Luscious, I would say.
It will melt your heart to your knees, this one.
- For the Banana Walnut Caramel
- Light brown sugar, packed - 3/4 cup
- Heavy cream - 1/4 cup
- 1 large very ripe banana, mashed
- Large pinch of salt
- Walnuts, chopped - 1 1/2 cups
- For The Cake
- All purpose flour, lightly spooned then leveled - 1 ¾ cups
- Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
- Unsalted butter, room temperature - 1/2 cup (1stick)
- Light brown sugar, packed - 3/4 cup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
- Vanilla bean paste - 1 teaspoon
- Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- buttermilk - 3/4 cup (6 ounces)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 10-in bundt pan (or a 10-in cake pan) with nonstick spray and set aside.
Make the banana walnut caramel:
In a medium bowl, add brown sugar, heavy cream, mashed banana, and salt. Stir to combine, making sure there are no lumps of sugar. Pour into prepared pan and spread to completely coat the bottom. Sprinkle walnuts over the banana caramel. Make the cake batter.
Bake the cake:
In a medium bowl add all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Stir with a fork to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar over med/high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stop and scrape the mixer to combine. Reduce the speed to medium and add the bananas, followed by the vanilla bean paste and extract and mix to combine. The mixture will look curdled, but that’s the nature of adding mashed bananas to things. Don’t sweat it.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Alternate adding flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Remove from the stand mixer and fold once or twice with a rubber spatula. Spread the batter over the prepared banana caramel. Bang the pan a couple of times on your counter to get rid of air bubbles and even out the batter. Place in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes or so. Run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake a bit and then invert onto a large plate. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.
Yields 12 servings.