Friday, May 19, 2017

Life Abundant: Lick the Bowl

A kitchen towel hangs on my stove that says, “You only live once-lick the bowl.” It is a reminder to me in motherhood, in life, in marriage…to enjoy, to relish, to live fully.

It doesn’t mean walk in selfishness, follow your own dreams and make an island of yourself. It does mean that this God-given life we have was meant to be lived. John 10:10 says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Isn’t that what licking the bowl is?

When was the last time you licked a physical bowl or plate? Mine was three weeks ago when my husband made eggs benedict and the hollandaise sauce was just lemony and buttery enough and the toast was gone! I licked the plate clean sitting at my kitchen table with my three kids watching in shock. It was delicious, I wanted to stay in the moment, to remember it, to savour it.

I haven’t experienced a lot of freedom in motherhood. It is most often a battle of comparison between my expectations and reality. It is fighting my emotions of frustration. It is not doing things the way my family did, my friends do or culture says and wishing I did.

I try to find the balance between my need for quiet and their intense desire for loud, wall shaking noise. I struggle between what I want and they need. I lay down dreams I once had for needs they now have. My freedom was laid down the moment they were conceived and I haven’t learned how to pick it back up again or find it in a new way.

All this need and sacrifice whisper lies that I am nobody anymore. That my worth, my interests, my dislikes are to be thrown overboard. That life becomes about these little people alone.

The truth is they do need a lot. I do need to sacrifice to meet their needs and desires. But that is such a tiny sliver of the truth. If we eat that sliver alone it chokes us. We drown in our inability to give everything they need and their inability to contribute to what we need.

The bigger truth is that life is now about creating a family. A team. A bigger unit. Life is now about us serving each other, learning from each other. Experiencing life, God, love, sorrow, joy, adventure TOGETHER.

When we see that picture, it is life-giving. It bears excitement. It is not as lonely a view as the lie that says it is up to us to make everyone happy, safe, healthy and content.

That lie that it is all my responsibility makes me forget that they have to experience me just as much as I have to experience them. I have to learn who they are, what they need, what energizes them and what they are sensitive about. BUT, it is just as important for them to know that I LOOOOVE dance parties, that Whitney Houston makes me sing at the top of my lungs and that riding bikes to the beach in the warm sun makes me feel alive and hiking through the woods quiets my mind. It is important that they watch me mop a floor, weed a garden or plant flower pots because I love productivity and making order and beauty. They need to know that I want to cuddle up and read books with them just as often as they want to.

But, they will never know if life becomes all about them. If we say “yes” every time they ask to watch a show, take a walk, push them on the swing, cut an apple, or build LEGO. They won’t know that you want to skip the zoo for an art museum. They won’t know how delicious pineapple is, they won’t ever watch a play or see a concert or roll down a hill.

Our desires as women, mothers, friends, homemakers, workers create the environment they live in. Our experiences give them theirs. They don’t have a bowl to lick if we don’t give it to them.

So often, we see our job, family, kids, house, marriage as things that overwhelm us, frustrate us or leave us discontent. They leave us bitter and in that state of mind we refuse to enjoy anything else. We are like a toddler whose mom made them the peanut butter and jelly sandwich they asked for but when she cut it into triangles instead of rectangles we shove it back across the table.

When we push things away we are building walls and growing numb. We are disengaging from our emotions, circumstances and the people that surround us.

We must choose instead to engage, to lick the bowl clean, to experience. To allow people into our hearts and minds. To bring our kids along through our life instead of making it about theirs alone.

We have to experience our sorrow at the loss of our baby. We have to include our spouse in our hurt feelings. We have to embrace our kids in their disobedience and work with them to change their actions. We have to walk outside in the sunshine and ignore the dishes. We have to then come back in and wash all the dishes being thankful we have any at all.

Our perspective has to be to live well the life God has given us. To feel deeply the emotions we are having but not to be ruled by them. To work hard at the tasks set before us trusting that the ones tomorrow we will have strength for then. To lick the bowl clean instead of have none because we can’t bear to wash the dish after the ice cream is gone

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  1. Last week my three kids came to work with me for an evening. Our oldest asked all kinds of questions about my career and owning a business than said, "Mom, you should have been telling me more about this!" He is so right, I've always committed to keeping my work and family lives separate (they are only beginning to understand that I am also a writer), and it's been a huge disservice to all of us. Thank you for writing this!

    1. I went to work with both my parents and have fond memories of that. IT showed me so much about them and made our family a unit. My mom is in theater so it was clearly a fun work environment. Way to go you for taking them along, hope it continues to strengthen your family!!!

  2. They don't have a bowl to lick if we don't give it to them- wow. Such a great point! Thanks for the reminder to savor life and to share it!

    1. It is so easy to forget to in the midst of life and their wants!

  3. I just love this reminder and the towel! We can get so overwhelmed, but being intentional in this reaps such rewards for us and our children. So glad you shared on Fresh Market Friday! Welcome!!


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