This lockdown has been a learning phase for everyone, I am sure. I have learnt. The first and foremost thing that I have learnt is that nothing is impossible, at least when it comes to managing a house. Yes, work-life balance is possible.
At the beginning of the lockdown, I saw people putting up pictures of themselves baking, cooking, and laying out delicious meals for their families. Now, I have never been an exceptional cook, or so I thought. With so many outstanding cooks in the family, I always put myself last in line. Having always been a working girl I did not pursue baking as my passion even though I believe baking to be the best form of cooking. This lockdown gave me a chance to rediscover this hidden talent in me. So, one day I thought what the heck let me try baking a cake. And since then I haven’t stopped.
I have also learnt that cooking and baking is no big deal. You just follow the recipe to the ‘T’ and you’ll have your perfect treat ready.
It’s been a month now and I have baked a chocolate cake, a lemon cake, pav for bhaji, bread, spinach bread, banana and walnut cake, carrot cake and am planning to whip up Mexican rice and to bake an orange cake with fresh oranges on Mother’s Day. All this with every day regular cooking. My fear for cooking has finally vanished. So, that’s an accomplishment. I have also learnt that cooking and baking is no big deal. You just follow the recipe to the ‘T’ and you’ll have your perfect treat ready.
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Another thing that I have learnt is that ‘planning’ is everything. For example, if I am thinking of baking a walnut and banana cake it’s not necessary that I will have fresh bananas and walnut at home. Or if I want to do a baked vegetable pie for dinner I may not have the cheese. This ‘planning’ and ‘listing’ goes for everything and not just cooking. So, yes I am a bit more organised now. I know exactly what’s in stock and what I might need in the next one week. Now that I am doing the dishes I also know how long a dish washing bar/liquid lasts for example. Hmm is that really me?
I have realised that with lockdown and not being able to get things from the market has a positive side too. I have learnt to live with ‘less’. Less is more, to do with whatever is available. To cook with whatever there is in the store or fridge. I look for recipes that have fewer ingredients or the ingredients that are available at home. My daughter and I do craft work with waste. Like we learnt papier-mache from a tutorial that we could do with old newspapers.
In the midst of cleaning, cooking, taking care of all the needs of my daughter I am also writing, working on my website, reading, connecting with authors and writers so yeah I feel like an accomplished and satisfied person at the moment.
Every time we near the end of a lockdown, I honestly have mixed feelings. Do I want to go back to living as before? Now that I get to spend so much time with my daughter I don’t want to lose that. I now know whose her favourite superhero, that she loves music, that she can learn a tune from a YouTube tutorial, what she wants to be when she grows up, who are her best friend and teacher. All of them change every day by the way. We watch movies and read together, she asks me the meaning of words and sentences, for all of this I did not have the time or patience earlier. I remember my spouse always lamenting the fact that she spends more time with her nanny than with us, well, that’s changed. I also feel I’ll be able to take care of her on my own now that she has grown up a bit, understands why I am saying what I am saying and doesn’t need constant supervision. Well, that’s another accomplishment for someone who thought a nanny was indispensable.
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The most important fact that I have come to realise is that I cannot take anything for granted now. Lockdown has taught me so. The early morning walks, playing with my pets, flowers on my pots, chirping of the birds, gardening, reading, just sitting quietly or chatting with my spouse, meeting friends, nothing is trivial. These are important tasks that keep us grounded.
It took just one invisible being, a virus, just a lockdown to make me realise all these truths of life!
Smita Singh is a freelance writer. The views expressed are the author’s own.