Have you ever been bantering amongst comrades and the topic of "What stresses you out?" comes up? If not, you should look into finding some new people. The kind who take interest in your cob-webby corners.
What stresses me out? The answer is quickly and unequivocally, "Baking for people". 100%.
Three things happen when I disclose this information to other people.
1. Inquisitive Chuckles
3. A Conversation about the Great British Baking Challenge (The British one. Not the American Knock-off...because we all value our time).
Hand to heaven, I would rather run 10 miles, lift 100 heavy things and tell jokes in front of the PTA in quick succession, while stinky, and naked. Just don't ask me to bake 4 dozen brownies for the bake sale. PLEASE! Cooking for others I don't mind. I actually enjoy cooking. I love my kitchen. I will bake a casserole, make rice & beans for 50 people, and put up political propaganda in your stupid neighbor's yard (not mine, of course,...I'm smart like that). I beg of you though, don't make me bake for another human being!
Here's the deal, I have baked for people before. When I hand them the thoughtfully produced delicacy, I usually have to deliver a short disclaimer about the modifications and ingredients. Words like "I used honey instead of sugar." "I fermented the sweet potato flour for better digestion" and even the highly overused "It's gluten free" have crossed my lips on the regular. My paleo baking OCD is usually met with a furrowed brow which I choose to take as pity. If it's cookies I've baked, I might get a "Thank you" as well. The gratitude sounds like it's been drawn from the deepest reserves of their soul and feels like itchy wool.
Then came the day I had to bake cookies of the "normal" variety for a family gathering. You know, the kind where family come together to enjoy and annoy one another. The sweaty palms set in. The prickles on the back of my neck. The calm breathing, the spiritual bargaining for a different dessert. Since when can we not all just enjoy some pudding? I ask you! All the stages of grief set in within a couple minutes.
My teenage daughter is nothing if not brilliantly astute and brutally honest (she says she gets that from me...jury is out on that one). Anyway, her advice....
"It'll be fine, mom. Just stop using your instincts."
I mean, duh? Why didn't I think of that?
"Just take every baking instinct you have and bury it deep, deep down." she continued."Like real deep."
"But sugar gives me headaches" I justified.
"Your healthy cookies give ME a headache."
"Like on a scale of 1-10, how bad a headache?" Then I started following her around the house peppering her with questions about which cookies exactly? Was is the time I used almond flour? Did she need an MRI? Was it the type of headache that tasted like black licorice? You know, the usual. Just until she regretted that the word "instinct" had ever been invented. Has telling me not to be true to myself, even in the baking world, ever worked? Like ever?
Just go against every instinct I have INDEED.
Then we drowned my mediocre baking ways by binge watching the Great British Baking Show. Again.
I'm not good at pretending to be something I'm not, even in the baking world. I've tried. I'm over apologizing for what I am. I feel zero need to explain myself to anyone that I don't love. I used to present myself with a disclaimer ("We homeschool" "Yes, I can cuss like a sailor if provoked" "I'm a Christian" "I teach Yoga" "The color Orange feels lost to me" etc.) I don't do that anymore. Not worth my time.
You see, I'm not for everyone. Not everyone is gonna like me. Or my baking.
I'm ok with that.
With all that being said though, I only want to share my ways (or my baked goods) with people who appreciate me (and my version of pie). I'm not interested in opening up my true self to someone who as the book says "Is just not that into me" or what I think the sequel to that book should be "I just don't care enough."
You keep your baking ways. I'll keep mine. I will also conveniently call in sick if you ask me to bake something for the shin-dig.
For the family gathering in question, I cut up a bunch of apples and put a bowl of caramel in the middle. DONE!
And we all survived. Triumphantly.