Life and Death

There are all kinds of bereavement therapies available , but I have never heard of Baking Therapy. As a way to relax and distract my mind from over-thinking, I find baking to be very helpful. I create something that is, hopefully, delicious out of raw ingredients and I have to focus fully on the recipes, so it is fully absorbing. Yesterday, I was given some cheese at work as it was leftover from a project. I left work early , potentially for a nap, but instead first of all I made some cheese straws then drove them back to my colleagues in the office, while they were still warm. That was almost as relaxing, and more rewarding, than my planned siesta, as it made my colleagues happy.

It will be my Parent Coffee Morning this morning at school, so I was busy last night preparing brownies and cake for them to enjoy. I have not seen the school Mums for ages, as we did not have a coffee morning in May, as half term got in the way, so it will be good to see them again as April seems forever ago . The last fortnight seems to have been a full lifetime, I just had to double check my calendar then, as I did not believe that Mum could have died just 2 weeks ago today. I am hoping for some hugs and support at the coffee morning, but mainly some distractions, to be able to think about other people and their issues for a change, so that funeral matters can fade into the background for once. It was important for me that I did not cancel the planned event, or delegate it to someone else, as this is something that I enjoy and carrying on indicates that I am still able to function, even though I will not be, nor do I have to be, the life and soul of the morning.

Today, parents who’s children will be joining our school in September have been invited to school for a look around, to meet their teachers and to meet some other parents too. They are having their own event this morning, but I am hoping to meet them too , so that we can make them feel welcome and recruit them to our coffee mornings in the Autumn term. They will be feeling all kinds of emotions today I would have thought, ranging from excitement and relief to get their child at a specialist school, to anxiety and fear about their vulnerable child coming to a new environment. These families are at the start of their journey with our school, whereas we are on the countdown from September, it will be Joshua’s final Autumn term and the start of another emotional roller coaster.

But I am putting that aside for now, my brain and nerves can only handle one change at a time. At the moment I am living just one day at a time, so today is all about the Parent Coffee Morning and about surviving the two week anniversary of Mum’s death.

Let them eat Cake

It is the second parent coffee morning of the year on Friday and so last night, after Joshua was in bed I made some caramel shortbread ready for the event, so that it was not all last minute and I have a coffee cake baking in the oven now as I write. I was delighted to receive a message yesterday that one of the Mums who comes most months, will be making and bringing a lemon drizzle cake along to share. We never know how many parents will attend, but I have a fear of having more people than cake so I tend to over-cater and then give it away within school, work or  even my hairdresser afterwards.

Due to  the risk of allergies and the unknown ingredients of home-baking, the school Governing Body agreed that homemade cakes should not be allowed any more in class,for the pupils. So Joshua will be having a his first shop-bought birthday cake in school for his 18th next week. I understand the reasons why this policy has been introduced and of course, I would not want to hurt anyone through my baking, but it  still upset me and I examined why that was:

I bake to make people happy, it usually brings a smile to faces.  I also use my baking to show people that I care: if someone is low, poorly or having a bad time, I will often turn up with surprise shortbread or chocolate brownies to try to cheer them up or to simply brighten their day. I use baking to thank people who have been kind to Joshua , such as the staff at respite, who usually find a tin of treats tucked into his overnight bag. I bake as bribery too – for orthotics and school nurses, to make sure that they are kind to , or particularly remember, my son.

So being told that I could not bake for children , who might not be able to judge what they should or should not be eating, for the good of their health, took away one of my ‘caring tools’ and so it did not feel good, even though my head knew it was sensible. The reality is probably that Joshua’s peers in sixth form, like cake , and they probably do not actually care if I made it at 5am in my kitchen at home, or if I bought it from the local supermarket, they will enjoy the sweet treat just the same.

But the new ruling does not apply to staff or parents, who it is assumed, have the capacity to ask what is in a recipe and can decide for themselves whether or not they should eat it. So I  was encouraged to continue to bake for the coffee mornings and for Governor meetings, so it is not a blanket ban on home-baking and so I will continue to do so, while Joshua still attends this school. I have already started to make noises amongst the coffee morning attendees, that they need to start recruiting a new baker,so that somebody else can take over my role next year. They have plenty of notice but so far there are no volunteers!