Fatherhood is a superhero state. Peter Parker experienced less of a change when he was bitten by that spider than Dad did when he held us for the first time. Every midnight tear, every stubborn tantrum, every bear hug or sloppy kiss contributed to that “S” on his chest. Dads carry a lot more than knobby knees on their shoulders, which is why it’s even more incredible when they bake.
Baking is science, and art, and stuff that takes patience and work and precision. We needed to be in that kitchen as kids, messing more than helping. At some point, usually in our teen years, we see the flawed human behind that “S” and forget it’s there—but we are reminded of it, eventually, and we’re never too old to find Dad’s cape and wrap ourselves up in it to borrow its strength.
Baking dads, listen up, because this one’s for you: You rock.
Sometimes, baking is a way to teach your family how to appreciate what is good. Not just what is good for you, which is an important thing to learn, but what nourishes your heart and soul and sets your taste buds dancing. Watching Dad’s hands as he carefully kneads dough shows what it means to have a passion for something, to work with your hands, to be unafraid of the mess. If Dad has to wait for the yeast to work its magic, so do we, and learning how to wait is good. Smelling the yeast working is good. Helping dust flour off of Dad’s arms is good. Taking pride in something we’re making ourselves is good.
Sometimes, baking teaches you how to handle mistakes. When the cake falls, when the cookies burn, when the blueberries burst, you know how to react. If you know how to laugh at lumpy cheesecake, then you know how to get us back on the bike when we’ve fallen. If you know how to turn hockey-puck biscuits into bird food or, even better, a dodge-biscuit game, then you know how to look us in the eye when we’ve let our friends make a stupid decision for us.
Sometimes, that oven light shows us the way home. When we’re rejected and hurt by someone we love, that oven light takes us to Dad, who reminds us who we are and what we’re really worth. When we need the courage to make a difficult choice, that oven light calls us to sit down, share a meal, talk it out. Dads who bake are dads who listen, who guide, and who care. They wake us up with waffles after nights spent thinking we’d never laugh again.
Sometimes, baking shows us life. Dads who bake watch thin batter rise into tall, fluffy popovers, and they watch tiny humans grow into loving adults.
Sometimes, all it takes to remind us what family means is a stack of pancakes and a terrible singing voice.
Sometimes, our creativity, our resourcefulness, our perseverance go back to that time spent desperately measuring out last-minute substitutions in a recipe after Dad’s advice.
Sometimes, a croissant is enough to remind us to stick with our dreams, to never back down, to act with integrity.
Sometimes, a warm muffin is like a warm hand lifting a bus to save us.
Sometimes, our hero wears an apron instead of a cape.