When I was a young Mom, I just didn't understand this saying when used in its literal sense. In fact, it annoyed me. I always felt like crying over spilled milk, for many reasons.
*The cost of milk was so high, that if I ran out of milk before payday, I couldn't always buy more.
*My greatest desire was to train my kids for the glory of the Lord. If they spilled their milk, it usually was because they were being disobedient. They weren't sitting still, they weren't putting their glass at the top of their plate despite hundreds of warning, or they were fighting or pinching or pushing or kicking under the table.
*To make matters worse, since the majority of our rental homes had carpet under the kitchen table, spilled milk meant soggy, gross carpet that would take intense cleaning to try to get rid of the soured smell. In Kansas, in the summer, with no AC, that wasn't an easy task.
The saying was usually quoted by moms who probably never had to glance at the price of milk AND her checkbook to see if the two synced, and never had so many little ones sitting elbow to elbow at a too-small table.
In one particular rental home in North Dakota, we had the dream kitchen, a 15 foot long room with linoleum, a blessing from the Lord after seven years and four kids worth of tiny carpeted dining areas. But the floor was so slanted, I could have sponsored the Pinewood derby. On one particular, stand-out-in-my-mind day, an entire gallon of milk was spilled, on the high end of the room, and geysered sideways across the entire kitchen floor. Living miles out in the country, far from a store, there wasn't going to be another gallon of milk for a few days, and it took a long time to clean up the mess. Wiping up spilled milk in those days was like wiping up liquid gold. And, I knew it meant deprivation for my kids.
Now, as an older mom, having weathered the time of life where my first four children were teenagers at once, I think I have a better understanding about this saying.
WHY WE SHOULD'T CRY OVER SPILLED MILK:
All mental, spiritual and physical growth begins with little tests and builds up into bigger trials that strengthen faith and produces endurance. The spilled milk was a big deal to me at the time, because it was one of my first testings. As my children matured and my faith matured, the trials became bigger.
However, instead of trite repetative sayings, I wish older moms would have said to me,
"Learn to successfully handle your little trials so you are prepared for the bigger trials that are coming."
Or maybe something like, "Learn to discipline and instruct patiently and calmly, because you will need a huge supply of patience and calmness during the teenage years."
The loss of milk was a big deal at the time, but, the cliche is right The emphasis should have been on enduring hardship as a good soldier, not on the crying. I wish I would have realized sooner how many accidents there were going to be in a normal raising of kids and that learning to be obedient is a long, hard road for all involved- moms AND kids.
So, to younger Moms I would like to say, "Don't cry over spilled milk.
Let these small, beginning trials help build endurance so you may move through each stage of your child's life with wisdom, maturity, endurance and patience."