These corona days, I often feel overwhelmed and anxious. Like I’m not being a good enough daughter, friend, sibling, teacher, mother, or wife. Like I can’t possibly play all these positions I’ve signed up for in life. Like I’m one big certifiable mess.
The pater-familias phone check-ins are a hot mess. My dad wants to preach scripture or pandemic data at me. He keeps his own spreadsheets — alphabetical by county — and there’s been days I’ve laid the phone down, flung a few F-bombs, folded some laundry, fried up some burgers, and picked up the phone again to find he’s only on Bibb …
My house is a bonafide mess, no doubt. I found spaghetti noodles stuck like dried worms to my couch cushions yesterday. They were hidden under the growing landfill of yogurt cups, coloring sheets, spent socks and play-doh. I haven’t made spaghetti in five weeks.
My hair’s a hot and humidified mess. I look like Medusa in a meltdown most days — hair frizzy and flat-iron free for these six weeks of quarantine. Today Tate climbed into my lap and excitedly told me I have white hair on top. “You’re turning into Elsa!!!” Great. Only I won’t be Elsa. I’ll be Medusa morphed into Einstein in a nuclear meltdown.
After that compliment, I needed to find a way to soothe my anxiety and settle my spirits — and since I didn’t have the stuff for Bloody Marys or Mimosas and all other spirits are frowned upon before five o’clock anywhere, I decided to bake.
Baking is my benzodiazapine when I’m feeling like a frazzled failure.
So I put some James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, broke out the brown sugar and parchment, and poured all my stress into my Kitchen Aid. Before long, I was humming along to “How Sweet It Is” and feeling so much lighter and brighter.
There’s just something about the smell of freshly-baked cookies — like the whisper of something warm and kind that centers my soul when the world feels out of whack. I forgot all my worries, my white hairs, my sofa-turned-scrapheap, and I baked.
Baking has been my comfort my entire life. Back when I was held captive in the cult, sweet, cinnamon rolls showed me the way, the truth, and the light. During football season when my husband’s away, I bury my lonely in snickerdoodle batter and fresh lemon cakes. And now in quarantine, with the four walls straining to contain my hot mess, it’s chocolate chip cookies for my sanity’s sake.
I can’t do it all, and I definitely can’t do it all well. But I can do baking. And since none of us in this house need to eat four dozen chocolate chip cookies, tomorrow my three boys and I will be driving the city to deliver warm, kind whispers to the mailboxes of others feeling the hot, lonely mess of this pandemic time.