The phrases we hear growing up are engrained in us. No use crying over spilled milk. The rule follower in me just accepted this ideal as fact. You just don’t do it. It’s done, it happened, you can’t change it…accept it. The funny thing is…I’ve done it! Three distinct times I’ve idiomatically done what I’ve always been told not to do…even though it’s pointless and couldn’t be changed…I have indeed literally cried over spilled milk!
The first instance to which I gave into this figure of speech in a literal sense was when I had been a mother for just a week and a half. In the months before sweet Emalynn’s birth I was dead set (even if a tad bit naive) on nursing her for 1 solid year. I read all the books, I talked to the doctors, read all the studies and I was going to do it! It was what was best thing for her so that was that, end of story. Once she arrived after about a week and a half it was not going well at all. My poor baby was crying all the time. She was starving! She wasn’t having adequately soiled diapers, she was unsettled, she wasn’t sleeping well and I was exhausted. What was wrong? Why couldn’t I satisfy her? I couldn’t even feed my own baby! If I had been a cow I would’ve been sent to slauter…it was that bad! We decided that I would try to pump between feedings to increase my supply not to mention drink and drink and drink…which meant round the clock feed…pump…feed…pump…pump…feed…feed…pump…pump…pump not to mention flush, flush, flush. Who had time for sleep? I was deliriously tired. A few days later I was awake in the night to pump in a systematic schedule between feedings (yes, I had a spreadsheet). I sat in the dark and pumped and pumped and pumped and what did I get? A measly 2 ounces. It was better than nothing and she would be awake in another 2 hours to eat anyway. I sat the bottle on the floor next to the chair I was in and leaned forward to set the pump down and the lever of the recliner bumped my 2 ounces of liquid gold and dumped it all onto the floor! Exhausted, hormonal and plain old fed up I just sat there and bawled with my head in my hands. Why was something that is supposed to be so natural so stinkin’ hard? A few weeks later I had to hang up nursing Emalynn and give her formula because while it wasn’t at all what I wanted it was what was best for her. That was very difficult for me and I faced that same exact situation two more times in my life despite my most fervent efforts. But I learned from then on that while I still had something to pump I needed to protect that liquid courage from recliners, little feet and my own clumsiness.
The next time I took this phrase to the non-figurative level was when Emalynn was just over a year and a half old. We were checking out at Meijer after getting groceries. I was pregnant with Maxwell and very ill (I threw up everyday for 27 weeks with this boy on board!) not to mention could I barely put one foot in front of the other I was so fatigued…more energy in the 2nd trimester my foot! Emalynn was starting to get irritated and she was out of milk in her sippy and out of Cheerios in her snack cup…but of course they were on the grocery belt so she thought we should just dive into them. As I tried to calm her, pay and load the groceries back into my cart the cashier handed me one of the wet gallons of milk and it slipped from my hands. As it hit the floor a river of white instantly sprawled across the floor. One gallon is a lot of liquid let me tell ya! The staff kindly went and got me another and cleaned up the river but I was beyond annoyed. I headed to the car just as it started pouring outside (of course!) and once we were both soaking wet and loaded along with our loot Emalynn started to fuss for milk again. I was not about get back out into the rain to risk opening a fresh gallon in my car with the luck I had just had. I turned around and barked “You may NOT have ANY milk!” She of course started to sob and so did I. How do you apologize to a 19 month old for being so terribly harsh? Somehow my reaction to her reaction was comfortingly understanding…especially when she got french fries and yes, milk from McDonald’s to make up for my inappropriate response…and mama got some chicken nuggets and a Diet Coke because that always makes mama feel better…thankfully all was well for the rest of the day and no more milk was spilled.
We have a very limited amount of time from when our little tank’s eyes open in the morning to the time he realizes he needs some nourishment. When Jackson woke up this morning it was a struggle to even get him dressed because the moment I walked into his room he was pointing toward the staircase. He didn’t even want to go see his Daddy because Mama is his meal ticket! I got him into his high chair settled with his sippy cup of milk (a sippy a friend warned me to beware of once he masters it and learns to tip it over) and a banana. I had much to do before getting myself and all three kids out the door within the next hour so I decided to head back upstairs to attack the beds and get ready. A few minutes passed and I heard Emalynn yell from the stairway…”Mama! Jackson spilled his milk everywhere!” I told her I was on my way expecting to see a tray full of milk but boy oh boy she wasn’t kidding. He not only dumped his milk on his tray it was splattered on the window. It was on the pantry cupboard. It was on the hardwood floor. It was seeping into my carpeting. It was on the walls. It was on the curtains. It was on the baseboards. It was on the dining room table and chairs. Yet my little Houdini managed to keep himself dry. Not seeing the silver lining of his big goofy grin and the fact that I at least wouldn’t have to start from scratch where he was concerned I was overwhelmed with the incredible catastrophe I saw. As I stared in shock I was said in a quivering voice…”I don’t even know where to start!” I realized I was starting to tear up and unconsciously decided in my head “No!” I wasn’t going to cry over spilled milk! Instead I apparently decided to get mad. Not mad at Jackson but just mad. How in the world was I going to get this cleaned up on time let alone get ready to go? Now I had to add laundry to the list from all the towel to soak up the milk that would quickly spoil just sitting in a hamper UGH! I ranted. I raved. I complained and I yelled and I slammed. Jackson on the other hand just laughed…until he realized he wasn’t about to get out of the high chair to joyously traipse through the puddles he had created. My reaction this time wasn’t any better than crying.
I pray there will come a day that I can truly laugh at colossal messes…even ones that I have to clean up myself. I pray that day comes not when I have grandchildren…but when my children are young enough that they don’t remember that mama doesn’t like messes. I pray that I will learn to laugh at the inevitable things that just happen instead of cry…or get mad. God made me a neat-freak…but life is messy…especially with kids! You’d think I’d know that by now! It will all get cleaned up…even my heart…thanks to the Holy Spirit. Oh he started working on me right away! I took one look in the mirror after cleaning up to quickly as Maxwell says “get beautiful” and was immediately convicted of my ridiculousness. I just wrestled with why I act the way I know is wrong…the way I don’t want to…and in front of my precious children!? How can I expect them to act…and react appropriately when I can’t even do it? It’s ironic what a little spilled milk can make you cry over!