The theme of my life for the last few weeks has been “getting the hang of things.” This applies to all aspects of having two children, but especially so with tandem nursing. Things are just starting to fit.
Ask me a month ago, and I didn’t know if we’d get here. I was fixing to burst with annoyance for my toddler. She was asking to nurse All. The. Time. and I was tired of it. Not to mention it being painful when she did actually nurse. I was actually considering weaning and, I won’t lie to all of you, the thought crossed my mind of going cold turkey. I knew it wasn’t really an option because how devastated Peanut would have been, but for a moment I desperately wanted it all to just go away.
So rather than traumatize my first born, I decided to just decrease how often she nursed. We got things down to nursing before naps and bedtime and I told her it was a “rule” that we only nursed during those times. She still asked, but she seemed to accept it when I told her the rule. After about a week of that, I was feeling much better. So much so that I thought about maybe letting her the next time she asked. I did, and things have actually been great. I found that stepping back from the situation, I missed her nursing in the daytime. I missed both of them together sitting on my lap nursing. I missed the connection that I got with my toddler when she was wide awake and nursing rather than falling asleep and nursing. I’m sure that I would have found that connection another way and I know one day I will have to, but I’m very grateful I didn’t give in to my rash thoughts a month ago.
At a La Leche League meeting I was at a few days ago, a mother brought up how people who have never nursed an older child sometimes say that the only reason for the older child still nursing is because the mother wants to. There are obvious problems with that statement like trying to make the mother into a sexual deviant that gets erotic pleasure out of the child nursing or a helicopter mom who won’t cut the cord. I’ll admit though, I do enjoy nursing. There are certainly times that I don’t enjoy nursing, and I those of you in my blogging world often hear the most about those times, but I also enjoy it too. I love the bond that I gives me with my oldest.
Beyond that though, it’s more than just the nutritional and emotional benefits. It’s also about the fact that my preschooler is still a baby. From the moment of birth, we start trying to push our adult expectations onto our children. They should sleep through the night. They should have a schedule. And as they become toddlers, we continue to push our ideals onto them. They shouldn’t jump on the couch. They should sit quietly. We continue to try to make our children adults until they finally are and we’re left wondering where our babies went.
When I think about Peanut and the fact that, as of Tuesday, she’ll be 3 years old, a preschooler, I feel like it’s been an eternity. Not in a bad way, but rather because it is truly difficult for me to recollect my life in the time prior to her birth. She is my everything (well, part of my everything that involves Twig and daddy also) so much so that my mind seems to have written her backwards in my life. Like she’s always been there somehow, I just had to meet her. Sometimes I look at her and I’m in complete awe of the little person she’s become. In three short years, she’s formed opinions, she’s developed speech to the point where adults can understand most things she says, she has a favorite color for hope’s sake! Yet, it’s still just three short years. When she enters junior high, what she’s lived now will be just 1/4th of her life. When she starts a family, perhaps it’ll be 1/10th. When she dies, hopefully at a ripe old age, it could be as little as 1/30th.
So yes, my preschooler is still a baby. She’s still so young. One day I will look back and cry that I can’t cuddle her in my lap and nurse her one more time. So for as long as I can, I will let her stay my baby. I will give her comfort in the way she expects until she eventually finds new ways to be comforted. Then when she’s grown enough that she no longer wants to nurse, I will simultaneously mourn the loss in our nursing relationship and welcome the new chapter in our lives.