07/21/2014 12:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pat-A-Cake, Pat-A-Cake, I Can't Bake For My Man

I grew up the second oldest of six children, with a mother who was both selfless and strong. She was an endless caretaker who demonstrated her love by slaving away in her kitchen day after day to cook for her large family. As a little girl I watched her as she served others, fulfilling everyone's needs but her own, constantly putting herself last. It was stomach-churning to see her work so hard yet eat last -- and eat leftovers. Really, it was hard to absorb her boundless self-sacrifice in and out of the kitchen. Subconsciously, I believe I vowed I'd never learn to cook. Essentially, my silent vow was an act of defiance. I didn't want to become the stereotypical housewife who was supposed to cook and clean for her husband and family.


So... How'd that vow go? Well, to be honest, not so good. I've been divorced twice, proving the proverb "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" true. Maybe had I fed their stomachs I would have love, but I doubt it. I had hoped to marry a man who loved to cook, but that was an epic fail. Sadly, my cooking catastrophes ran from burning breakfast so much so that my family almost always lost their lunch. And whenever I've attempted to cook a nice dinner, most of my guests are solely focused on dessert-ing. I'm a terrible cook with great intentions. And no matter how many meals I've served, something has always ended up amiss. Inevitably, I burn something, thus setting off the fire alarm!

I think my original parodied poem titled "Pat a cake, Pat a cake, I can't bake for my man" say's it best...

Pat a cake, Pat a cake,
I can't bake for my man.
Someone please help me as fast as you can.
He said, "You're no Betty Crocker,"
And, "Honey, you don't have a clue!
Why can't you bake like my mom used to?"

Pat a cake, Pat a cake,
I can't bake for my man.
Sh*t, my tuna casserole is burnt,
And brownies are stuck to the pan.
He said, "My cinnamon rolls are hard,
And the icing tastes like glue."
So I turned around and smacked him
Just like his mom used to!


Well, escaping cooking lessons came at a steep cost. You see, I didn't realize that you can't escape from cooking if you have a family. And despite my lack of talent in the kitchen, I still managed to become a codependent housewife. I share all of this and more in my recent memoir RAW; One Woman's Journey through Love, Loss, and Cancer. After twenty-something years I realized that there's no such thing as a free lunch. So, at some point in my life -- well, more like at several points -- I finally understand that cooking is love made visible. And the price I paid for freedom from my kitchen was the opportunity to learn to cook from the world's greatest chef- my mother!

Fiona Finn is the author of RAW: One Woman's Journey through Love, Loss, and Cancer Or follow me, follow me not on Twitter @fionaburkefinn.