• I baked with my dad and wanted to do it with my kids, but an undiagnosed illness made it impossible.
  • When I learned I had multiple sclerosis, I finally started receiving treatment.
  • Spending time in the kitchen with my son is the best gift I could ask for.

When I was little, I'd stand on a kitchen chair by the counter as my father poured flour into the mixer. "Turn it on," he'd say, and together we'd watch the ingredients morph into batter. He did the same with his mother, and I always thought I'd do the same with my kids, but we never had the chance. I stopped baking during those early parenting years because I was living with undiagnosed multiple sclerosis (MS). I physically couldn't do it.

When my younger son was a toddler, I couldn't stand long enough to cook dinner, let alone bake. It was one of many hobbies this disease stole from me as my body declined and my search for a diagnosis grew.

Flour. Sugar. Baking powder. Vanilla extract. Butter. Eggs. By the time I'd collected all the ingredients on the counter, my legs were devoid of energy. I stirred until my arm muscles throbbed — often, it wasn't long enough.

Some days, I'd push on anyway, determined to hang on to this one piece of myself so that I wasn't defined by this disease. But after sifting, pouring, mixing — and standing — weakness and pain would win.

As my legs begged for rest, I'd slowly sink downward into a sitting position until I reached the kitchen floor. There, I cried, mourning the loss of who I was.

I hung up my apron as I waited for a diagnosis

"Perhaps I was once a baker," I'd tell myself. But now, I was a chronically ill mother struggling to survive, and it was hard to recognize myself.

Being in the kitchen was a reminder that I was living with a debilitating yet mysterious disease. When cooking, I'd lean on the counter to relieve some of the weight my body was supporting, but that only helped for so long. I'd prepare meals as quickly as I could, sitting at the counter while I worked when possible.

By the time my second son was born, I'd already exhausted doctors in every specialty without receiving a diagnosis. Resting in the evenings instead of baking like I once did was the only way to push through. I simply had no other choice.

Baking became a hobby of my past, and my muffin tins found their way to the bottom of my cabinet, buried under kitchen necessities. This disease left no space for activities of enjoyment.

I learned I had multiple sclerosis

After 13 years of searching for an answer, a neurologist ordered a lumbar puncture, and with the results, he suggested, "I think what we're dealing with here is MS." With treatment, my body finally had a chance to improve. Slowly, over a few years, I found myself again. Short walks became easier. Moving around my home felt more natural. Exercising became routine. My muffin tins emerged from hiding.

At first, I found old recipes I used to bake with my father during childhood — ones I'd written on loose-leaf paper and brought to college with me. I've been on a gluten-free diet for the last decade, and I now experiment with new recipes in search of the best gluten-free muffin. I rediscovered the therapeutic nature of baking and how it relieves stress and heals trauma.

I'm six years into MS treatment, and my 12-year-old now enjoys mixing the batter with me. He's too big to stand on a chair beside me, eagerly watching the ingredients swirl together. We were cheated out of the magic of baking during toddlerhood, but we're making up for lost time. It's a chance I never knew we'd have.

My body is still imperfect. Mixing is difficult at times, and I can't stand indefinitely, but baking is now possible — and I have a helper to take over when I need to rest. This Mother's Day, as we bake together, my son and I will appreciate the little things that many people take for granted, like the smell of muffins baking in the oven, the decadence of a handful of Ghirardelli chocolate chips, the wonder of watching the batter rise through the oven door, and the ability to simply stand long enough to bake.

Baking muffins with my son helps me appreciate everything my body can do despite MS. We have a second chance to measure, sift, mix, and pour together — even though he doesn't need to stand on a chair to see the bowl. It's like finding a lost puzzle piece after many years and finally feeling whole again — it's the best Mother's Day gift I could ask for.

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2024-05-12T23:48:40Z dg43tfdfdgfd