Grateful for this small life . . .
“I guess I can say I have a kind of small life that suits me very well,” writes my old friend as we exchange letters about the years since we saw each other every day. The notion of the small life strikes the right chord in me. A life of beauty in the little things, everyday things, simple moments that make up a regular day.
He goes on, “Georges is seven now and I try to cherish every moment. Everything feels so fleeting and temporary. I love drying his hair so much because I am afraid that he will be over it tomorrow. He is still such a little boy but not for long. You know all of this. First, and only, time for me.”
I do know this. I remember wanting to stop time when my boys were overcome with giggles in the bath or taking deep breaths of sleep on my chest, or calling out and laughing as the final moments of neighborhood wiffle ball games gave way to summer dusk and dinner time.
The days are long but the years . . .
Parenthood is both endless and fleeting. The work and the worry never wanes.
My babies are twenty-two, eighteen, and fifteen years old now. My oldest, who once would wake if I so much as tried to go to the bathroom alone, is now exploring India, Thailand, and Nepal on a college semester abroad. He is discovering the world and himself on this epic journey. My middle son, my babe who refused every bottle ever offered to him and thus created a freezer full of breastmilk I was able to donate, is taking those first bumpy steps outside our home as a first year college student. And my youngest is shimmering, both missing his brothers but also stepping outside their shadows and into his own sunshine.
This growth, this change, is wondrous to see. As wondrous as the first laugh, the first steps of walking, the first day of kindergarten.
A sense of peace . . .
I too love my small life and I love it because of the people and the practices that make it up. There is my own family and there is our milk bank, a place built by countless families to hold love and hopes. Tucked into a quiet corner of a Boston suburb, our milk bank is anything but grand on the outside. And yet, every morning as I walk in the door, I feel the same sense of peace that I feel at home.
The window into our pasteurization lab provides me with a view of our early morning team members already bottling batches of milk, knowing that the music they have chosen will be the soundtrack of my day. The rest of our team flows in, our donor screeners who spend their days talking to generous moms who share their milk with babies who need it, our distribution team who makes sure every bottle gets to hospitals and families, our communications team, finance, the volunteers who help us label bottles and more.
When I survey this team about their work and what matters the most to them, our mission is the runaway winner. What brings them back, day after day, is the difference they make in the lives of babies and families.
Grateful? I am . . .
In my many conversations with moms who donate milk, their recurring refrain is that they are grateful for the opportunity to share. They find joy in packing up their extra milk, knowing it will nourish a baby in need.
A new dad came in to pick up milk for his newborn son a few days ago. His wife was struggling to breastfeed, and their son had a rocky start and wasn’t responding well to formula. They needed a little help in these fragile, early days. Sleep deprived and emotional, like most new dads, he expressed huge gratitude for the milk he was picking up. “These moms who donate, they are changing our experience as new parents and our baby’s life. We feel so fortunate,” he told me, choking up a little.
Collectively, these small lives, these small practices make a world of difference. Is there anything we could be more grateful for?
We’d love to know, what are you grateful for? To share, please drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org