Just a Cup of Milk

photo credit: meantux via photopin cc

It is such a mundane thing.

And really, it can sometimes border on annoying, as I’m totally on to his stall tactics.  I mean, a cup of milk about 10 minutes after bed?  Come on.

Just a widdle biddle milk, Mom?  Please?

Add a pair of blinking, beautiful eyes and an ever-so-slightly protruded bottom lip.  A nod and a knowing smile.

A widdle biddle?

Often, I know better that to let him indulge.  With a sweet but firm reminder, I rub his back and encourage him to drift off to sleep.  But the other night, there was just something about those eyes, and I caved.

I mean, it’s just a cup of milk.

So down to the kitchen I went to open my refrigerator door which, although we often complain that there is simply “nothing to eat,” was filled to the brim.  I grabbed one of about 10 options of cups, guessing he’d want the blue one because, this week, it is his favorite, and poured just enough to satisfy but not too much for a little bladder past bedtime.

I might have even been a little bit grumpy about having to get up off the couch and make the treks up and down and up and down the stairs.  I mean, my “mom shift” was over for the night.

But, those eyes.

So back up the stairs to pull him quietly out of bed.

Shhh.  Okay, just this once sweetie.  You can have a little bit of milk.  Come on downstairs.

Back on the couch, with my sweet little manipulator by my side this time, I handed over the sought after cup.

As he brought the cup of milk to his lip, now protruding below the container, I was suddenly struck by the moment.  Maybe it was the way in which his gulping sounds reminded me of the days when I was the milk, maybe it was the satisfied gasp he took after an indulgent swallow, or maybe it was the fact that my child wanted just a cup of milk.  And I was able to give it to him.  And he was nourished.

Yet in that moment of gratitude, I also found my mind wandering and my heart feeling a tug of guilt.  In how many places and spaces on that same night did children cry out for just a cup of milk when none was to be had?  How many children at that exact moment, lie holding their growling bellies in the night, or worse, withering from lack of food and milk, while my fully fed child gulped and chugged his way to contentment.

My child wanted a cup of milk.  And I could provide.  He wanted, not needed.  And we could provide.

And then back to bed he went.  A warm bed.  A loved blankie.  A full belly.


So what to do with this.  This gratitude.  And this guilt.  How often these two come wrapped together in a confusing little package.

There is no simple answer, of course, but instead a million little things.  A donation to the food pantry.  A trip to Feed My Starving Children.  An appreciation for what we do have.  A recognition of responsibility.  A simple prayer.

Dear Lord, Thank you that I can provide for my children.  Help turn my gratitude towards compassion, towards action.  Amen.  

In two weeks, I’ll be walking in my first CROP Hunger Walk.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to lace up my shoes and walk in solidarity with those who have no other choice but to walk in search of food and water, both in my own neighborhood and around the globe, and to maybe help fill another little belly with just a cup of milk. 

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.   – Luke 12:48

 A version of this post originally appeared on Moms Encouraging Moms and has been shared on the Church World Service blog.




  1. Melinda Sileo says:

    A wonderful reminder. Your spirituality is soothing to my soul.

  2. Sweet story, Holli. I wrote something similar this week about the pleasure of meeting our children’s needs. I think that pleasure, in and of itself, is enough to motivate us to good, perhaps without the dash of guilt (which too often paralyzes me!). Blessings on your crop walk!


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