If extended breastfeeding causes dependency, why do my babies keep weaning themselves before they’re two?
No really. I wanna know. I keep gettin’ gypped.
It appears Georgia is moving on from the nursing relationship (at 21 months).
And the thing is…I want to nurse her more. I want to keep this going. But she’s only vaguely interested and gives me a passing glance and asks for “gook” (milk) occasionally and I offer repeatedly…but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that she’s pretty much, well, “over it,” as they say.
WHY? WHHHHHHYYYYYYYY? I’m not ready.
Today in the grocery store parking lot I saw a woman sitting in the backseat with the door open, nursing her baby who was probably about 8 months old. And as they do at that age, the little one was just intent on it – pulling her nourishment with vigor and interest and focus. My toddler? Half-assed nursing at best. Any little something – any little noise – any action in the room – boom. she’s done. Off the lap.
“I got things to do and people to see. I’m out.”
And she takes off to terrorize the house and squeal and climb shit.
It probably has something to do with the fact that she takes a bottle because I went back to work when she was 4 months, and often I’m not here when she goes to bed. So it’s my fault. Obviously. I know that. I accept that.
But it still makes me a little sad, this moving on. The new stage. Clearly it’s fine. And yes, I know 21 months is a good, solid time to nurse your baby.
But she just seems so little still, just a little thing stompin’ around and raisin’ hell. Just a little thing exploring the world, checking it out, venturing into life with strong and sure, but tiny, vulnerable, and innocent steps. She’s little. I can enfold her in my arms. I can pull her into a ball against my chest.
She still smells like a baby.
People. She smells like a baby.
But I’ve vowed to trust her and me and the process, and if she’s done, she’s done. I get to let go. I get to feel the pang of detachment and watch her walk along, in her new independence.
There are times as a mother when I have to put my money where my mouth is. Do I really believe in child-led weaning? Do I really believe my kids will let me know when they’re ready to move on? Well…do I or not?
Cause a part of me wants to fight her on it…wants to keep it going…wants to force the issue (not that you can “force” a baby to nurse) – but you know, ignore her [rather obvious] dismissal, pretend she still wants it — NOT LET GO.
But it’s a selfish move. It’s for me. I want it. She is clearly quite undisturbed by the whole thing.
But when it gets down to it, I know my job is to provide a foundation, not BE the foundation. I build a solid ground upon which she can grow, in whatever direction that takes. I don’t get to determine HOW she grows. I don’t get to mold her into what I think she should be. She already is.
She is already complete. Everything she needs is within her. I nourish what’s there. I do my best to create a setting in which she can thrive. Find herself. Find herself.
Not find me.
It’s my job to find myself, and keep looking for me when I can’t see me — and if I ever, EVER start looking for “me” in my kids – looking for “me” in another individual, well then, I know I’m looking in the wrong place, expecting a child to make me whole, placing on them a responsibility for my well-being – demanding of them, taking away their freedom, making my existence their problem.
And I won’t do that.
So go, little Georgia. Go on, baby one.
I’m here when you need me. In whatever form that takes.
And I sure loved it while it lasted.