perfectionless baking

by Kristen

Perfectionism pulses through me—not in all areas, but in many. Every once in a while I remember it is an uninvited presence, and I push pause on it. Today I hit the button as I stepped into the kitchen.

I handed Norah a custard cup of sprinkles and a spoon. I shaped and placed the sugar cookie dough, and she covered each piece in a mound of sprinkles. I didn’t show her how; I didn’t limit the amount she put on; I didn’t “fix” those with too few or too many; I didn’t squelch her not-so-secret sprinkle sampling. The end result? Cookies that were far from uniform but lavished in love—better than perfect.

Putting the perfectionism on the shelf wasn’t hard. Maybe because thirty-plus years of baking perfectionism can’t overwrite the memory of being the three-year old perched on the stepstool. I still remember Great-Grandma letting me roll the molasses cookies in sugar. I’m sure some had bare spots and some were smooshed out of shape. But I don’t remember her correcting me.

And today I know why she overlooked the imperfections. Today I understand what power there is in freeing a little girl to work without second-guessing herself or comparing one cookie to another.

It’s been a long time since I enjoyed baking as much as I did today. And I think the cookies tasted better with all of the love and none of the judgment.


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