I’ve always enjoyed whipping up a batch of jam drop cookies, a dozen blueberry muffins or my latest obsession, scones with jam and cream (jam on first and then the cream for me please).
It’s not because I’m an expert cook, or because I’m a glutton, although I do enjoy a little treat or two with my afternoon cup of tea. What I love about baking is the process. Especially since becoming a mother, I enjoy tasks with a beginning, a middle and an end. You know, a small, self-contained window of time where you start something and get a pleasing (well, most of the time) result at the end.
The mothers among you will relate, I’m sure.
Caring for my two little children in those early years of much washing, little sleep, and as many changed plans as changed nappies, my life felt chaotic and out of control.
A decade later I’m still getting my head around the reality that regular daily life is not supposed to feel like baking, it’s meant to be sort of unpredictable and a little uncertain. Nothing at all in fact, like my foolproof self-saucing chocolate pudding.
This tendency of mine to prefer structure and predictable outcomes over spontaneity and free-wheeling goes way back into childhood and forms a strong part of my nature. Why then did I choose psychology as a career path?
In my early years as a counselling and case management psychologist, the messiness of my work really freaked me out. People didn’t behave at all as I expected them to; clients would often fail to follow my research-based suggestions and some of them would even miss their appointment without as much as a phone call.
It simply didn’t make sense to my twenty-eight year-old mind. My approach to life at this time was, if I wasn’t happy about something, I would work out a logical solution and take action. Of course, this didn’t work in all situations, least of all those involving the people to whom I was close to and would be directly impacted by my choices. Hmmm much learning to do. Enter motherhood, stage right.
Having my first child turned my rigid beliefs and unrealistic expectations about how my life should be, completely upside down. Looking back at that first year of motherhood now, I can see how beautifully every moment leading to a frustrated sigh, a furrowed brow and knotted shoulder muscles, taught me to slow down, surrender and be in the moment with my child.
Okay, if I’m honest, this only happened occasionally. But hey, we’re talking about changing habits formed over a thirty year period and I’m thankful these incremental changes are still happening in my forty-third year.
You want to know how I know I’ve changed since then? Well I’ll tell you. I can now happily bake with my son and daughter helping me and there’s not a sigh, frown or hunched shoulder in sight. Now that’s progress!
Watch how life grows you and enjoy the process even when the outcome is not what you expected.