Another’s milk

Published 8:18 am Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The truth is, they just don’t have it to give.

“Coffee cows” is what my father calls them, meaning they produce just about enough milk per day to fill a coffee cup. Not nearly enough to keep a hairy, four-legged drinking machine, known as a calf, satisfied. These milk-craving juveniles have little choice but to wander around amongst the herd, snatching a swallow here and grabbing a gulp there wherever it can be found. It is the only alternative to starvation.

Most cows will have nothing to do with the little stranger. They reserve all their milk for their own offspring. A quick head butt into the side sends the small one rolling as he gets up, shakes his head, and continues his search. But some will tolerate him, allowing some of their life-giving liquid to go to another. So this small renegade stays alive feeding off the overflow of others. It keeps him going, just barely, until his system can tolerate solid food.

They are born into what would be considered less than ideal situations. A long-gone father. A mother who never learned in her own family how to love. Never enough food or affection or both to go around. An emptiness that permeates the household such that acceptance, affirmation and encouragement, though craved, is rarely experienced. Small hearts seek what they cannot find. Little minds search for what they cannot define.

So they wander around, seeking to satisfy a hunger, to quench a need, to fill a vacuum.

They’re often kicked aside and told they have no place, to drink from another fountain, to taste from another plate. Communicated in a thousand unspoken ways that they are not loved, they see themselves as unlovable. So they resort to snatching a gulp here and a swallow there, anything to fill the void.

But some allow a place for them, a position in their midst. “Come and eat!” they say. “We see you are hungry. Come dine with us! Here you will find acceptance. Here are arms that envelop and voices that encourage. For we have been given more than we need! It is our pleasure to give from our abundance!”

And so the young one survives by feeding off what others have to give.