Let me set the scene. Tuesday evening. I'm making supper for Ethan, Spongebob mac and cheese. I've boiled the mac and am getting ready to add the butter, milk, and processed cheese mix. There's a small amount of milk in one gallon at the front of the fridge. Ethan and I both usually drink water for supper, so that last bit has been there for awhile. I grab it, open it, take a quick swig, all without thinking. I'm swallowing before I realize it's sour.
I look at the expiration date, and it's over a week ago. It's too late to spit it out; it's already down. The taste will linger with me all night, staying with me past my supper, past ice cream, past brushing my teeth. It lingers with me til I get to sleep. But my first thought after drinking it stays with me as well: "I'm glad Ethan didn't taste that." And that, my friends, is to me the essence of parenthood. Being willing to drink the spoiled milk so your children don't have to.