Monday, January 14, 2013

the yellow bowl

I pride myself on the fact that I am not attached to many material things.

If asked, "Your house is on fire, and you can only grab a few things. What would you take?" I used to answer that all I needed were my photo albums, as everything else could be replaced. Now that most of my photos are somewhere in "the cloud," I say I need nothing.

It has come to my attention lately that I have been lying to myself.

Years ago, perhaps in my first year of marriage, I bought a yellow bowl at a garage sale. It was pretty much like the one pictured above. It was in great condition, and I paid 10 cents for it, took it home, and didn't think much about it.

Then I used that bowl, for the next two and a half decades. I used it mostly when mixing pancakes or a batch of cookies. And always for birthday cakes. I'm not good at math, but I had seven children, so that's quite a few cakes over the years.

The yellow bowl stood for something good and meaningful. It stood for Sunday morning. It represented the times when Mom threw caution to the wind and made chocolate chip cookies, even though she knew she would eat a lot of dough and that was NOT on the diet. It meant cakes sometimes made from scratch, but mostly from a mix, because it was easier and that's what the kids prefer, anyway. It meant little children begging for the spatula, children with chocolate smiles who needed to lick that bowl!

A month or so ago the rubber ring on the bottom of the bowl disintegrated. Beneath it was a mess of moldy yuckiness. Without the ring, the bowl slid around the counter, making it no longer practical. So in a sensible, practical move I non-ceremoniously threw the bowl in the trash and went on with my day.

I can't stop thinking about that bowl.

I imagine it in a landfill somewhere, wondering why it's not on my counter, playing a starring role on a special occasion.

I see the faces of my children around me, begging for a taste or frosting or asking if they can have the first pancake.

I'm overwhelmed with nostalgic longing. I'm overcome with the realization that something so simple could mean so much to me.

My google search for images made it clear that this "vintage find" might be available for purchase if I keep an eye out for it. Sadly, there is no replacing that bowl. A counterfeit could never take its place.

Instead I have begun to train myself, yet again, to "keep all these things, and reflect on them in my heart." Children grow up; they grow up and venture out into the world, and our motherly hearts break a little each day with the realization. Sometimes I have to catch my breath when I allow myself to think about it. I am teaching them, intentionally, to no longer need me. They are transforming before my eyes - and their growth is utterly and completely out of my control. The world will be unkind to them, and they will suffer. They will stand at my elbow, asking for a taste of something good, for such a short while.

Like the yellow bowl, I will do my job and then, eventually, be all used up.

I hope I do my job as well as that bowl did. I hope I will be a memory to my children of one who held and offered good things, who fed them, and who was a part of every celebration.

Goodbye, my yellow friend. Thank you for the lessons - and the pancakes.