I never know what to do when my kids are away. I mean, you can only spend so much time on Facebook.
"Ideas, anyone?" I asked on, um, Facebook.
A fellow divorced mom couldn't believe the question.
"How can this be?" she wrote. "You eat chocolate pudding for dinner, drink (a lot) of wine, go run every day because you can go whenever you want to, read books!"
"Or just read and sleep," a divorced dad suggested.
"Go to movies at night!"
"Do things that make you feel whole. Do things for yourself. Hang out with fun people who won't ask you for anything."
But I did not eat chocolate pudding, book a manicure or take a bubble bath. I did not do these things because I got distracted, once again, by Facebook. This time, Facebook alerted me that it was an acquaintance's birthday.
Instead of my usual action -- just writing "Happy Birthday!" on her wall -- I found myself typing this sentence:
"Do you want me to make you one of my signature disheveled but delicious chocolate birthday cakes? If so, e-mail me and I will drop one off!"
How weird of me, I thought after I hit "enter."
The really weird thing, though?
I felt my spirit lifting like a birthday balloon.
Doing things for others, I think, is what makes me feel whole. And when a mother doesn't have her kids -- well, at least I can nurture others through baking while my kids are away.
Unfortunately, the acquaintance declined the cake.
"It was a very sweet offer, though," she said.
I moved on to another Facebook acquaintance.
"Happy Birthday!" I typed on her wall. "Would you like a chocolate cake delivered to you by moi? I am starting a free birthday cake delivery 'business.' You would be my first recipient. Candles and wishes included. Maybe a balloon, too. It's just to spread happiness."
Unfortunately, this acquaintance also declined the cake.
"That is so sweet of you," she wrote back. "We are going to be leaving here shortly for dinner out ... thanks for the generous offer, though!"
Well, at least one of her friends wanted a cake: "Molly: Please move to Charlotte, N.C. sometime between now and Oct. 31. :)"
Can cakes be mailed?
As this was playing out on Facebook, I overheard my colleagues chatting one aisle over.
"Dude, it's your birthday?" someone was saying.
I stood up.
"It's your birthday -- today?" I asked urgently, startling the birthday boy.
"Yeah," he said, looking rather uncomfortable.
I looked at the clock: 5 p.m.
"How late are you working?"
My colleague, the barest of acquaintances, now looked even more uncomfortable.
"I don't know -- maybe an hour?" he said.
I ran to Target -- no time to bake! -- but by the time I returned with the cake, a balloon and a birthday crown, my colleague had left for the day.
I shared my dilemma with another colleague.
"Why would anybody turn down a free birthday cake?!" she emailed me back. "I wish I knew of somebody. (The photo editor's) birthday is (three days from now). Is that close enough?"
I started lighting candles.
"Happy Birthday!" I announced as we gathered around his desk.
"It's -- not my birthday," said the editor, looking confused.
"Close enough," I said.
I posted a photo of the cake on Facebook. The candles spelled out my mission: H-A-P-P-Y.
"Spreading happiness, one birthday cake at a time," I wrote.
Soon afterward, I noticed that another acquaintance of mine on Facebook had wished his brother a happy birthday by sharing my photo.
That made me so happy.
If you would like Molly Guthrey to bake you a cake for your birthday, give her a call at 651-228-5505.