July 1, 2018

Finding our Purpose beyond Parenthood.

It seems like my mojo has taken a holiday.

It’s sped off into the wet and grey day in search of greener pastures, sunnier climes, or possibly just some new ideas.

At any rate, my baking mojo is effectively gone—disappeared without so much as a, “See ya later! I’ll be back when you get better.” Things come and go, I get that. Life is fluid and dynamic, but baking, for me, is like a lifeline. I bake when I’m sad. I bake when I’m happy. Either way, I’m in luck when I need to bake.

So there was obviously something deeper, darker, and way more sinister going on. Grief.

My little boy had left on a jet plane to the far, far north of Australia for 12 weeks—to a place so remote most Australians never go there. Most people don’t even know where it is; but they should. Maybe my little man took my baking mojo with him, packed it in his little case, rendering me disabled to bake without him here. After all, whom would I have to bake for without him?

Or maybe, my heart just sank, like the carrot cake last week. It sank deeply and profoundly, beyond repair; in total disgust, I threw it in the bin (the cake that is). As for my heart, well, it still beats and pumps blood but the major artery seems to have been vacated. That’s because it went on vacation to Arnhem Land—I see that now.

You can never really prepare yourself for these heartbreaking moments. I’d been so positive for my boy, telling him how great it would be in Arnhem Land, which is the soul of our country for many Indigenous Australians. I reminded him what a wonderful experience this would be with his dad, little brother, and stepmother—such an adventure for an 11-year-old boy, soon to begin his first steps out into the sphere of men.

My friend said it was like an initiation: going out bush with the Yolngu people, learning a language and culture that only a few of us “white fellas” get the privilege of learning. I felt better, microscopically.

As a single parent for the past 10 years, I know that it is a great opportunity for my son to be initiated into a world of wonder and learning, of good men and good women, of family and new friends, of adventure. His world will be so enriched and he will grow into the man of our dreams…

But what about my world?

In quiet moments, I have the time to reflect on my life, my childhood, my adulthood. It’s a rare opportunity for parents to do at any considerable length—the freedom to really consider our lives, where we’re at, and what the next step might be.

Who are we without our children? It’s a question asked by many parents. I have a pretty good sense of self, but still, it’s more about purpose I’m thinking. I now have no purpose to bake. No little ankle biter to feed after school. No little man to cheer up with chicken soup and a warm afternoon tea cake straight from the oven, drizzled with buttery cinnamon sugar.

So when there is no purpose, what do we do?

I decided that rather than spend time looking inward, I needed to look outward to see what I could do for others. To celebrate Baking our Blues Away, an annual day of good will, I’ve attempted to bake my second cake this week—and so far, so good. It’s a delicious vegan cake known as the Lazy-Ass Cake, so surely nothing can go wrong! I’m pairing it with ooey gooey chocolate ganache and blueberries on top, and my hope is that when I take it into work it will be devoured with love and smiles.

Purpose, I’ve decided, is not only good—it is vital. With purpose, I can bake for others. I can bake my own blues away while starting a conversation to remind myself of my purpose. I can watch the satisfied smiles of those who absorb all the love I’ve poured into this one chocolate cake.


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Danielle Greenwood

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