A week earlier we’d welcomed our third son into the world…
I was at home, transitioning into the “new normal”. Diapers, nap cycles, shorter nights, longer smiles. And alongside me was a recovering, healthy, happy, beautiful wife; along with two boys in school (1st grade & preschool) and now boy #3 – Theo Samuel! Life. Is. Good.
But being at home that long, something funny happened. I got stir crazy.
So one afternoon I told my wife, “I’m gonna bake a cake.”
To which she smirked and cautioned me. You could tell Alice thought I was nuts. Beyond pancakes, eggs and warming up leftovers I wasn’t much for cooking.
I had a Paleo cookbook in front of me that included ingredients I didn’t know and words I didn’t understand. But the picture looked good and I’d decided, I wanted to do this. And when I say “bake a cake” I’m not talking about something simple. I’m talking about triple layer, no processed sugar or dairy, buttercream icing, ganache (see, I learned a new word) – all from scratch. Hours were in front of me. If we’re gonna do it, let’s do it. Hearing and seeing all this, my wife just smiled.
Thinking back on it, I really didn’t care about baking a cake, I wanted to learn something new. Even if it was inside my own kitchen, I wanted something I’d never done before that was challenging. In front of me was the step-by-step ingredients and directions. All I needed to do was follow through. So what happened? You can probably guess…
I messed up. More than once. Wrong ingredient, forgotten step, and I still can’t understand why the cookbook said “60 minutes prep time” total & it took me over 2 hours!
Moving into the early evening, my wife came back into the kitchen; but this time she smiled a different smile. To her surprise, something smelled good and looked above average. Really? Did Matt do that?!? Alice was even texting my sister in amazement about what she was witnessing. And that night for dinner (plus multiple times that week), our family of five dug into the cake. Success!
Since then, I’ve been cooking a little more. Everything I see doesn’t feel half as challenging as that cake. Week after week, dinners become more “doable” and I can repeat items quicker and more efficient. There’s still a long way to go, but I picked up a new skill and confidence level that’ll carry into the future.
So ask yourself – When was the last time you learned something new? Something you could follow step-by-step the first time and screw things up, but still get to the finish line. Then continue to repeat it with more precision. Is it time to challenge yourself again? Because Lord knows, if I can bake that cake from scratch, you can do almost anything.