My husband hates scrubbing pots.
He is, in all fairness, really pretty willing to clean up the kitchen after I cook and he rarely complains. But pots are his nemesis. Particularly, pots with anything stuck, splattered, or burnt on them.
The other day, I made the unfortunate mistake of looking away from a sizzling skillet of bacon for about five seconds. Besides the seriously unfortunate waste of perfectly good bacon, we ended up with a nasty mess of burnt-on bacon grease on one of my beautiful new stainless steel skillets.
Fab Hub was less than pleased and so I told him I would take skillet duty.
And then I forgot.
For like two or three days.
(Please no one tell my mother that I forgot to clean a skillet for a day or two or…three…she would absolutely die.)
It’s not as bad as it sounds, really. The Fab Hub actually did wash the skillet. But when the burnt-on stuff didn’t budge, he kind of bailed. So it was “clean,” but not scrubbed.
Today, I decided to tackle the skillet. Sure enough, soap and a kitchen sponge/scrubbie did exactly nothing to solve the problem. So I busted out the bumble-bee colored plastic-ish scrub thing Kidzilla picked up at a kitchen store recently and the good old Bon Ami cleanser. It was time to get to work.
After only a few minutes, the leftover bacon burn started to disappear. I was quite excited by this and made Fab Hub come over and look at it. It didn’t excite him quite as much. The process was painstakingly slow, make no mistake. I soon tired of standing at the kitchen sink and moved the project to the kitchen table. This intrigued Kidzilla.
Zilla: “Mom, can I help you clean the pot.”
Me: “Sure, if it makes you happy. Come on over.”
Zilla: “I’ll be right there. Don’t finish too fast.”
Not a problem.
She joined me at the table and was concerned that I had chosen her bumble-bee colored scrub thing for the job.
Zilla: “Mom, that’s my bee scrubbie.”
Zilla: “You shouldn’t use that. I need it for when I’m scrubbing the pots and washing dishes.”
Me: “Right. Because you do that so often. Zilla, you haven’t scrubbed a pot once in your very short life.”
Zilla: “Well, I’m going to start. Right now.”
If nothing else, my Daughter has a great sense of humor. And she was about to learn how to scrub a pot – a skill that will come in handy for both of us.
She dug in to help, making little circles on the black burn marks with her bee scrubbie. After a few more minutes of working together, it was time to rinse. Our efforts had paid off. Where earlier lived an ugly black coating of the residue of a mistake now shone a clean that was almost perfect.
But not quite.
The skillet will bear permanent marks of burns, scratches, and other evidence of regular use. But showing it a little love and patience in the cleaning process will produce a more seasoned finish – one even better than brand-new. It won’t be perfectly clean and new ever again. But that’s OK. Pots and pans are meant to be used, not admired. They should show signs that they are well-used and well-loved.
Our Selves are like that skillet. We get a little beat up by daily use. We get scratched and burned and a few ugly reminders of past mistakes get stuck on our surface. But a little love and patience will help us shine again. Perhaps not quite as perfectly new as the day we were born, but better. We will carry with us the signs that we have used and loved the life we have been given.
As I put away that skillet later, I thought of another skillet sitting on top of a cabinet in my kitchen. It was my Grandmother’s skillet. Not an heirloom or anything – just a plain old stainless skillet she probably picked up somewhere because she needed one at some point. It has a lot of marks and scratches. She gave it to me right out of her own cupboard when I moved into my first apartment. “Here,” she said. “You’re going to need this.” It has remained with me ever since.
For a second, I wondered what kind of magic my bee scrubbie and Bon Ami might work on that finish…
But that one I think I might just leave alone.
This post was previously published on The Meaning of Me and is republished here with permission from the author.
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Photo credit: Lisa A. Listwa