Tater Tot turned two at the end of March, and we are still happily nursing. I always thought I would wean at least when they were asking for milk (kinda like how I thought I'd be done having kids at 30 ha ha) but so far, those plans have changed. It's not that I'm unhappy about it, it's just new territory for us. Tater Tot followed me around from the shower the other day, looking longingly at my chest and asking, "Boo boos? Boo boos?" as I tried to get dressed. It was sort of funny and sort of ... weird at the same time.
A few days ago he got up early and I put him down for his nap a little sooner than usual. By mid-late afternoon, I could tell his energy was flagging. He actually walked up to me and said, "Boo boos?" I kind of looked at him like, "What??" He tugged at my fleece that was half unzipped and said, "Stuck." LOL
I knew I wanted to nurse him at least two years; he's breastfed the longest of all three of my kids. I was adamant about trying with my first, and was determined to go at least six months. Then as we approached that mark, it was nine months. Then a year. I eventually weaned him at 18 months, and his sister nursed until she was 21 months.
I've been thinking about this a lot since he hit his second birthday and trying to really examine my feelings about it - namely, why I feel strange for feeling weird about it in the first place. Why do people care so much? If you ask strangers or a friend, everyone has an opinion, and usually they're willing to share it with you whether you ask them to or not. It's like once you become a parent - before the baby is born, actually - they take vicarious ownership over your body and inject their thoughts, feelings and opinions into the situation as far as what's Socially Acceptable and Good According to All Mankind.
My husband and I have talked about this occasionally, and I asked him point blank why he thought I should stop. He really couldn't come up with much of an answer, so we both agreed that whenever we stopped was fine, no pressure. He has always been very supportive of me nursing the kids as long as I, and they, wanted. I remember him asking me about when I would wean when our oldest reached a year, but honestly I think that was because he was reacting more to social norms and customs, and how it influenced his thinking, more than anything else.
It's strange that we have to defend ourselves to anyone who dares to ask if we're "still nursing?!" Last year my brother got married to a lovely girl from California, and her wonderful mother sat across the table from me at the rehearsal dinner and asked if I was still nursing when I refused beer. (I hate beer anyway.) I said yes (Tater Tot would have been about 17 months old then) and knew I loved her immediately when she didn't even bat an eye at my response, as if it was totally normal.
I came across a question posted on some parenting forum a few weeks ago about a mother who was having trouble with her 17-month-old biting during nursing sessions. I couldn't tell if she wanted to just end the bad behavior, or stop nursing altogether. One person who responded said, "17 months is wayyy too old to be on the boob. You need to wean her." I thought, Wow, that's supportive advice; thanks a lot! I put in my two cents and said, "If you're not trying to wean, ignore X's stupid advice."
I think sometimes we want to hurry up our children's babyhood as fast as we can: we say we enjoy watching them grow, and "They grow so fast!" and yet we're in such a hurry to potty train and wean them. As much of a problem accepting breastfeeding as some people have, they seem to have an even harder time accepting the dual purpose of breasts when it comes to toddlers - as if by the time they're able to hold their own bottle or cup they should be in the kitchen pouring it themselves. And if they can ask for it - well, that's even worse! eyeroll
Why can't we enjoy this time, or at least admit that we're not in any hurry? It doesn't mean our nursing toddler is taking advantage of us or having his way, it means he enjoys that time with us, which will not last. Besides, he's two; it's not like he'll be nursing when he goes off to college.
I bet some people think women who nurse their toddlers are somehow holding on to their babyhood and won't "let them" grow up. Maybe, maybe not. I don't know if I'll have any more kids after Tater Tot, but if I do I'm sure I'll nurse them just as long. He's hovering on the edge of boyhood, not quite a baby and not quite a toddler just yet - almost. Independent, and yet...a boob man. Crazy about cuddling up in mama's lap, one leg flung over the side, chubby little hand tucked up underneath there somewhere, eyelids heavy and lazily dozing.
In the words of my friend Taryn:
Think "extended" breastfeeding (past 1 year) is wrong? Well, Michael Jordan was breastfed to age THREE. Same with Albert Einstein. Jesus Christ, even LONGER. The day YOU have six NBA Championship rings, a Nobel Prize in Physics and the ability to walk on water, we'll talk. Till then, put a cork in it.