Something mind-blowing happened the other week.
Something that two years ago – actually, probably even two months ago – would have been unthinkable for me.
Freya wanted to make gingerbread men and, for once, I had Every. Single. Thing. Needed.
I know, you’re probably thinking…and? But for me this was a big deal. As I lined everything up on the counter I couldn’t quite believe it and checked the recipe again. Yup, all there.
It felt like a significant point in a long and winding journey.
It’s well known (particularly in local hospitals) that I’m far better at eating than I am cooking but it didn’t take too long for me to twig that babies and toddlers can’t cook for themselves straight away (why isn’t there a chapter warning about this in the parenting books?) and that I was going to have to up my game – and by up, I mean actually join the game – especially when it became clear that she was intolerant to a whole host of things and she wouldn’t/couldn’t just “eat what we eat”.
My dislike of cooking goes all the way back. I’m sure I made cakes with my mum when I was little but, as I grew up, dinner just always appeared on the table (how lucky was I?). I had no need to learn and certainly no desire to do so. When I left for university I, rather embarrassingly, didn’t even know how to make a jacket potato let alone boil an egg. Although there was a kitchen in my halls of residence it was mainly reserved for burning toast in the early hours of the morning but there was a canteen and, in those glory days, my grant covered eating there.
It was the second and third years I realised that if I didn’t want to starve I needed to attempt what could loosely be described as cooking. Luckily, being vegetarian, I didn’t have meat to contend with. I can’t say I found it enjoyable (maybe because so much of it was burned to a crisp?). And it sort of set the tone for the next nearly 20 years, although I got a bit more interested in healthy eating.
However, if I was a reluctant maker of main meals, it’s fair to say that baking was probably just below standing in a queue in my list of things to do for fun. The trouble was it was rare to find shop bought cakes, even from health food shops, that didn’t have something in them that upset Freya at first and I didn’t want her to go without treats.
The first time I attempted to make cupcakes I had to buy everything – from the ingredients to the little cases. And some of those free-from recipes taste better than others so it took several goes to find one we all liked, which meant many trips to the shops to re-stock – it didn’t occur to me then to add it to the weekly shop.
I have baked more in two years than I have in the other 30 odd years of my life but I still didn’t think I was really getting it. Until the other week when, to my astonishment, everything was there ready for us to get our bake on.
It was so momentous, I felt like I should shout about it (or at least Tweet it) but it doesn’t stop there because then something even crazier happened.
Something that made me feel a bit Mary Berry…
I got myself a recipe journal (to be fair, Mark actually bought it for me because I was at home with a poorly Freya). What’s more I’ve been filling it in and enjoying it.
What has happened to me?
I knew, or at least hoped, that motherhood would change me. I imagined becoming Zen-like; instantly knowing the answers to all of life’s big questions but finding a, dare I say it, love of baking? Not so much.
Don’t get my wrong, I’m not claiming I’m any good at it but I am getting better (the hospitals have stood down) – and not only that I want to get better.
I might even try and boil an egg next.