I am convinced all moms are part of the cuckoo continuum of crazy and I fall somewhere in the middle. My personal brand of therapy for said craziness is baking. I bake when I am angry, stressed or frustrated that life just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes in the winter, I throw in a little crock-pot soup making, just to mix things up. There are worse ways to self-medicate, I understand that. There is no Betty Ford clinic for chocolate chip cookies or Dr. Drew show to hold group therapy for those who routinely walk around with a little white flour on their faces. Nope, it is a secret shame that me and my co-dependent Kitchenaid mixer must share.
There is something soothing about digging out an old cookbook or a stained and slightly crumpled, handwritten recipe. The rhythm of folding and mixing gives me something to focus on besides how crummy I feel and there is a sense of closure that baking offers that is not always available in everyday occurrences. My kitchen , like life, is often messy. But even the clean up is therapeutic in the sense that it restores order, at least temporarily, in my little world. Add a little Van Morrison and the smell of chocolate cake wafting through the house, and the black cloud begins to lift. I can see that life is good again.
I learned long ago that I cannot eat the fruits of my labor, because that leads to clothes that don’t fit and a very unhappy me, defeating the purpose of Zen baking. But the unsuspecting benefactors of my dirty little secret are usually delighted to gobble up the banana bread, blueberry muffins and random cookie experiments. I also have two boys in my house that are more than happy to inhale my creations. I am not sure they even taste enough to appreciate them, but I have to let that go. Their enjoyment makes me smile, relieved that all is right with the world for a few minutes. It’s not bringing about world peace, I get it. But it is about giving me some inner peace temporarily. And to quote that other crazy baker, Martha Stewart, “That’s a good thing.”