Why seek therapy when I can just bake??

I’ve always loved to bake. It’s very soothing for me and has been since childhood. I originally learned to bake on my own at about 12 or 13 simply as a way to try to make my dad happy. He was a very volatile man and would go off on these tirades when we never expected it. There would be these great big blow ups where he would have me, my brother and my mom cowering in fear until he would finish his rant and storm out of the house. He would always stay away for an hour or two then come back, but never in a better mood. He would simply sit down on the couch and pout, not speaking to any of us. He was great at the silent treatment.

My dad had a wicked sweet tooth and would not go to bed without his bedtime snack of cookies or brownies or cake or anything sweet, for that matter. He really loved chocolate chip cookies and liked them the best when they were warm and gooey (who doesn’t?). One night, after storming out of the house after another of his famous blow ups (and they were probably 3-4 days a week, which I later learned were due to his drug use that he had kept hidden from us kids), I decided to go to work and bake a big batch of cookies to have waiting for him when he came home. How he could stay mad when there were fresh, warm cookies waiting for him?

I would get everything I needed together in a very organized manor and work like a mad woman to make sure those cookies or cake or brownies were done before my dad got home. I would lose myself in my task as it was very important that everything turn out just right, but at the same time, I would be so consumed with my task that I could just tuck the nightly incident away in a corner of my brain for a time. Once my baking was done, I would wait nervously along with my mom and brother for my dad to come home. When we would hear the car pull in the driveway, we would all disappear into another part of the house until we heard the T.V. go on in the living room. We would know then, that he was done ranting for the night and the silent treatment would ensue. Then, I would go to the kitchen and arrange the fresh cookies on a plate or a nice big piece of cake and get a big glass of milk and take it to my dad. I would set it down on the table next to him and let him know they were made fresh for him. He wouldn’t acknowledge or look at me, but would pick up whatever it was I put in front of him and eat it. Sometimes he would ask for more, sometimes he would look at me and smile, but most times there would be no acknowledgement at all. But that was okay, because I knew if he ate it, we would be okay, and that was all that mattered.

The day after the rants were always much different then the night before. Of course, no mention would be made of what had occured and there was never an explanation or an apology from my dad but instead, he made a point of being more affectionate than usual or we would get the obligatory “guilt” gift. That was just fine by me and my brother. What kid doesn’t want a new toy? Years later, when I was in my twenties, I went to visit my dad and his new girlfriend, Sam. He started telling Sam what a good baker I was and how I was the only one who could get him to calm down when he was angry by baking him his favorite cookies or cakes. I remember at that exact moment wanting badly to tell him how angry and hurt I was that I had been put in the position of peace maker, but I didn’t. In his own way, my dad was acknowledging what had occured, and for him, that was a lot. I would have to just leave it at that.

30+ years later, I still bake. I bake because I love it. I bake because it’s a way to make others feel good. I bake when I’m upset or mad or frustrated. That’s good and bad. It’s good because the end result will be wonderful and gooey and sweet; it’s bad because it keeps me from having to deal with whatever the issue may be. Sometimes, if the issue is between my husband and myself, I will march into the kitchen and start going through the cabinets, grabbing whatever may be there; peanut butter for peanut butter cookies or baking chocolate for brownies. While I’m doing this, we continue to talk. While we continue to talk, I start baking. I immediately start to relax and in the end, all is better.

Now my kids bake with me. They both enjoy it, but Owen more so then Austin, simply because he’s still at that age where he wants to help with everything. What can be more cathartic then baking with your kids? Sure, it gets messy, but that’s the fun of it! Owen especially loves to bake brownies so he can lick the spoon and Austin loves to make cookies because he loves the cookie dough. How different their childhood is from mine, but had it not been for my childhood I may have never to enjoyed baking like I do, and if it weren’t for my love of baking, I might not have ever baked with my kids and made the memories that I have.

I think everyone knows how I feel about Christmas (see last couple of posts if you don’t). Nothing seems to be getting me in the Christmas mood. Still no tree. Still haven’t Christmas shopped. I have, though, been playing my Christmas CDs in the car now , to the delight of my kids. So, why not resort to the only thing that seems to work for me in my times of frustration? So I have been baking. Nothing overly Christmasy, but it sure smells good around here. I made pumpkin Bread, brownies, and a wonderful Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread with cream cheese frosting all within the last 24 hours. Tomorrow, maybe we’ll venture out and get a Christmas tree, but I’m not promising. For now, I will peruse one of my many baking cookbooks and see what treat I can come up with next. Or maybe I’ll make chocolate chip cookies, just for old times’ sake.



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7 Responses to “Why seek therapy when I can just bake??”

  1. jeni Says:

    i love you twin….((((((huggles))))))

  2. Carly Says:

    Chris

    Don’t try to push things, this time of year is hard on everyone to one degree or another. Speaking as a girl who is rarely in the holiday spirit…I know from past experience that if I thought about it for too long a time, it only made me more resistant to it. Try focusing on the smallest of things that make you feel good and in the holiday spirit. Little steps darlin. (((((HUGS)))))

    Always, Carly

  3. Tammy Says:

    I know how it is to have a parent you can never really please. My mom died scuba diving at age 44 and I grieved for losing a mom, but I also felt relief. I love how you used baking to shield your heart and now you use it to share your heart! I’m getting more in the spirit by just reading your last few posts. I’m so glad I’ve met you! Carly is right, baby steps {{HUGS}}

  4. Stacy-Lynn Says:

    I’m in bad mood so you wanna come and bake for me. I will even rant for you if ya want. LOL. I am sorry this is a hard time of year for you doll. Keep that ticker ticking..I can almost smell the goodies all the way here!

    Love you lots,
    Stacy
    PS) I hear music!

  5. Katrina Says:

    You seem to have great insight into yourself; that’s so wonderful! What a gift it is to your kids to have those happy memories of baking with you. Maybe when you’re least expecting it and standing at the kitchen counter up to your elbows in cookie dough, Christmas spirit will come up and bite you on the butt! 🙂

    Pumpkin bread sounds soooo yummy right now…

  6. Bedazzzled1 Says:

    As you can see with this being the third entry I have left a comment in, I think your journal is wonderful. I like the mix of topics.

    Obviously, I am sorry the Christmas spirit has yet to seep into you, but not every holiday season brings only joy. Each person adapts in his or her own way. Be good to yourself, and I will bet that will be plenty good enough for your family. ::smile::

  7. Helen Says:

    Your Dad sounds like my ex-husband on the shouting and sulling up part only mine would not speak to me up to a month and most times I never knew what was the problem. Then I got to where I didn’t care. If he was quite at least he wasn’t yelling at me.
    I think baking when you are upset is good for you. Glad you are getting in the Christmas spirit more. Hugs, Helen

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