perfection & pear skillet cakes

February 26, 2016 | add comment

I measured the flour and spices. I overshot the cinnamon. Hurry, Jecca. Up next, coring and slicing the pears. Faster. I sprinkled brown sugar into a cast iron pan full of melted butter. If this pear skillet cake was going to have a fighting chance, I needed to prep it and get it into the oven before baby Elliot awoke from his morning nap. And that, I did. Success!

Or so I thought.

After about twenty minutes, the scent wafting from the oven went from heavenly, buttery cinnamon sugar to something BURNING. I opened the door and smoke streamed out. The batter was bubbling over the sides of the skillet, sending molten liquid dripping onto the oven floor.

Nooo! How dare this smoke even consider entering Elliot’s fresh little lungs! I threw open the back door to let in fresh air. My husband, Brian, banged open the kitchen window that hadn’t been opened in ages. We set up a fan to send any smoke outdoors, and I tossed a baking sheet into the oven to catch future cake batter drips.

All of this made a lot of racket. Through it, Elliot napped.

The situation was under control, but I still worried about any lingering smoke with Elliot napping mere feet away. So Brian unhooked his swing from the base then carried it from the living room into the bedroom.

Elliot continued to snooze, none the wiser.

During my pregnancy, I had visions of dancing around the kitchen with my baby in a sling. I, happily baking cakes and cookies while my wee one dreamt sweet dreams. Martha Stewart and Mary Berry would come around, peaking through the window with a smile or a wink.

Riiight…

I’ve always found baking to be relaxing. I love taking my time to measure or slice each ingredient. I find tranquility in the exactitude.

But when I have to rush, relaxation goes out the window. Rushing, you see, equals imperfection…and I’m a perfectionist. I miss being able to take my time. Motherhood stole this from me, and I want itback.

Last weekend, I decided my family deserved a homemade batch of scones. I flipped open a book to a recipe I’ve made a dozen times. It’s simple and tasty. But a funny thing happened when Elliot woke up 18 minutes into his nap. I…rushed. I whisked without care. I eyeballed the coconut oil. I looked the other way when short on raspberries.

And you know what? The scones were absolutely delectable because they were made with love. JUST KIDDING, THOUGH. They tasted kinda shitty. They were bland and dry. They were pretty, but boring. They made the perfectionist in me wonder if a mediocre scone is worse than no scone at all?

One of the hardest adjustments to motherhood is the lack of time, or rather the division of time. Maternity leave is wonderful (bless you, California), but I’m not yet used to getting things done bit-by-bit. Life is a snuggly tug-of-war with baby at one end and me at the other. I want to do anything and everything for Elliot, meaning all of those other things I love in life, from writing to baking to crafting, have taken a back seat for a good, long while. I chip away at them during baby naps and in between errands and tummy time. I finish bowls of cereal in the shower. I turn Justin Bieber songs into lullabies (fact).

This is how I spend my days. I’m editing this post with one hand while scarfing down an egg sandwich with the other. It is entirely imperfect, the way mommyhood is supposed to be.

Oh, and the pear skillet cake actually tasted delicious! Perfectionism dies hard.

 

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