Thin pancakes. Fluffy pancakes. One pancake. Stacks of pancakes. Letter-shaped, or perfectly round. They invoke warm memories of moms cooking breakfast, families gathered around the table, and happy tummies full of maple syrup.
Unless you’re my children. Just ask them if they want pancakes, then stand back and watch their eyes fill with fear and panic while they shake their heads wildly as if to erase the very mention of it from the air.
“No,” they’ll whisper, “Mom isn’t allowed to make pancakes anymore.”
“Why?” you’ll ask quietly, curious as to why this conversation is on the down low.
“She has…pancake rage,” they’ll say, in all the seriousness children can muster.
Sadly, it’s true. I pride myself on the fact that most anything I’ve attempted in the kitchen has turned out fairly well. Most of the time it’s actually good. Certainly never inedible. And I actually like to cook. (I’d like it a lot more in a much bigger, perfectly organized kitchen. But I digress.)
Pancakes, though. Pancakes are a different story. Pancakes are the Joker to my Batman. The Green Goblin to my Spider-Man. They are, in fact, my kryptonite.
It all starts innocently enough, with the best of intentions. “I’ll make breakfast for everyone this morning,” I tell myself. “It’ll be a nice surprise.”
Thirty minutes later, the near-obscenities are flying from my mouth at a speed rivaled only by that of the spatula flying across the kitchen.
The “I’ll surprise them with breakfast” turns into “here are your frickin’ pancakes,” and the family is left holding their forks, watching, jaws agape, as I storm off to my room.
I know what you’re thinking. “Pancakes are so simple! How can they make someone so angry?”
The answer is simple: They’re not perfect.
My pancakes should look like they came straight off the griddle at IHOP. Perfectly round, golden brown, fluffy stacks of sponginess, ready to soak up a gallon of warm, buttery syrup. Instead, they’re all different sizes, varying shades from golden to charred, and more like dense memory foam than fluffy sponges. Sure, they taste fine, and no one would even complain. But they’re not perfect. And for me? That’s a deal breaker.
So, I don’t make pancakes. Because I’d rather not have them at all than have someone know I can’t make them perfectly.
I wish I could say it stops with the pancakes. But I’d be lying. It’s everything in my life. That book I wrote? I loved it. You’ll never see it because an editor hated it. That person I’d like to get to know? Hasn’t met me because I wish I could be 50lbs lighter before they ever lay eyes on me. That contest entry? I’ll never make it, because I’m not as dynamic and eloquent when I speak in public as I’d like to be. This blog post? Almost never happened because I couldn’t flesh it out completely in my head before I wrote the first word.
I hate that about myself. I hate to think about how much I’ve missed out on in life because I was afraid of what could go wrong. I hate that I’m aware of it and still can’t overcome the fear. Most of all, I hate that I’m leading by example and teaching my kids to be afraid to put themselves out there and live.life.
I have to get better. I have to make it better for them, before I sentence them to this anxiety-ridden, disappointment-filled existence I’ve subjected myself to for so long. They deserve to do all the living that I haven’t done. I’m just not sure how to go about it. Perhaps it starts with making a phone call. Perhaps it begins with hitting the publish button.
Perhaps…it starts with pancakes. With a side of imperfection. Hold the rage