Cooking and baking are my escape.

When 4:30 p.m. hits, I throw my apron on, turn on some Ella Fitzgerald and start prepping my kitchen. The day time is for work, playing, changing poopy diapers and making sure nobody gets into the knife drawer.

But dinner time? It’s for me. To unwind. To be creative. To make something amazing out of a bunch of random ingredients. It’s a beautiful thing.

I’ll never forget the first day I heard it.

It was the sound of a chair slowly being pushed across the floor.

It was my 3-year-old Lucy with a grin on her face like she had a big surprise to share. Except the surprise was that she was about to wreck some things.

But at the same time, when one of the loves of your life says they want to help you, how can one say no?

So we pulled up the chair, put an apron on her and got to work.

She was in pure delight mode, handing out kisses like samples at Costco. She was helping me pull the parsley leaves and talking my ear off about lemons. It’s one of those simple moments in parenting where you realize THIS is what life is. Mundane, simple moments, filled with love and learning and a togetherness that creates a quiet joy that surpasses all understanding.

I thanked her for doing such a great job on the parsley, then turned away to throw away the stems.

In those two seconds, she dumped my entire ramekin of salt into the dish.

So, you know. That wasn’t great.

At another point she cried for roughly 30 minutes because she wasn’t allowed to chop vegetables with a sharp chef knife like all the rest of the toddlers.

Then she knocked over the olive oil.

The chicken burned.

It was chaos.

Even Ella was like, “I’m gonna stop singing until y’all get it together.”

But this is what parenting is in a nutshell. Pure bliss that can also be so tense you start booking a one-way ticket to Timbuktu on Expedia, or a massage, or an appointment with a therapist. Or all three until you Google Timbuktu and realize it isn’t worth the hassle.

I suppose even though dumping an entire bag of flour on the floor isn’t “a laugh a minute” when it looks like there isn’t a single place in your home flour isn’t — including my eyelashes — it does make for a good story later.

It's a memory that’s both beloved and nightmarish, lovely and a little ugly. But perfect just the way it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still like to cook alone. But I’m learning to be flexible.

***

Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and mom to daughters, Lucy and Poppy, and English bulldog, Bruno; wife to Rob Thomas; and founder of HaHas for HooHas. She writes for momaha.com.

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