Recently, I reached into the freezer to defrost a bag of breast milk that was due to expire. I searched for the oldest date first, tossing aside a few from January until I came across one dated 12/25/13. Unlike most of the dates on the frozen milk, this one had meaning beyond an expiration date. I remembered tip-toeing downstairs to pump before everyone woke up and sitting in the glow of the Christmas tree lights anticipating the joy of watching my son run down the stairs yelling “Santa came!”. I meditated to the whir of my pump, crunched on the sugar cookies left out for Santa, and inhaled the scent of a fresh pine. I zipped the milk into its bag and tucked it in the freezer just before the city awakened around me.
Christmas 2013 was the first I celebrated without either of my parents, but it was also the first I spent with my new family of four, establishing our own traditions. I remember watching the wonder of Christmas on my son’s face and how happy it made this newly-minted Santa. We lingered in our red and green pajamas and ate a breakfast of sugar. Still on my maternity leave, I sunk into the couch with my two-month-old daughter with the comfort of knowing that we had no place to be other than right there together. It was as magical as a one expects of Christmas.
Here I was needing now to thaw the Christmas milk before it expired. It reminded me how precious time is and that although there are so many cliché parenting expressions about how quickly they grow, it really is true. Six months had passed since I pumped that Christmas milk; my baby daughter is now starting to talk and my toddler son is heading off to preschool. Needing to defrost this milk made me thankful for 9-months and counting of breastfeeding and how much my baby and I have grown in our breastfeeding relationship. In the way that perhaps only a day as magical as Christmas can though, that little bag of milk not only nourished my plump baby girl but made me take pause to cherish the present, stop for a minute and hug my kids tighter, thank my husband for joining me on this parenting journey, and look around at the life we are building with gratitude.