#MomDare: Why I Still Nurse My 2 Year Old. Even Though I Don’t Want To.
I am not a parenting expert, and I admit to looking cross-eyed at all the bloggers who profess that they are. Because, unless you have a specialized degree or MD behind your name, your opinions about parenting are just that, opinions. I do think, however, that the best way to learn is by doing. I have 4 children and although I do not have a degree in child psychology, nobody else in this world knows more about what makes each of my children tick than I do.
Now that I am raising baby/toddler #4 I feel like I have found myself wondering if any of my prior knowledge is transferable. Some of it’s not pretty, so let me explain.
My 4th child is about 5 years younger than my 3rd child. We had wanted a 4th child, but there were complications we had to work through. We worked really hard to get that girl here. That baby started, on day one, a certified mama’s girl. She is still that way, and lights up like a Roman Candle when she sees me. It’s sweet and exhausting.
From birth that kid was a champion nurser. My other children self weaned themselves when they were ready. Generally somewhere between 10 and 12 months. Not her. She is almost 2.5 and I am still nursing her….. even though I don’t want to do it anymore.
To be truthful, I am done with the sore nipples, I am done with being pawed and groped, and generally having to find someplace quiet where I can go and nurse her. Because hell hath no fury like denying that child a nursing session.
Now the fact that I am still breast feeding my toddler can be quite the conversation starter for other moms. Upon seeing us, I get varied comments about the whole thing, such as:
“Wow she is kind of big to still be doing that!”
“Have you tried doing ____ to get her to stop?”
“How long are you going to keep doing that?”
“You know soon that is going to be really weird nursing her in public…”
I don’t get hurt feelings from all of this, it just gets old having to answer questions when really it is not anyone’s business. So thank you to everyone who has ever chimed in on this “situation” and for all of these astute observations and more which I have been given. I am not nursing my 2 year old because I want to, I am nursing her because she needs it.
I am still nursing her because she is little and doesn’t understand why I would deny her something that gives her such comfort and security just because other people might think it is weird. She doesn’t care if you think it is weird. So I guess, neither do I.
Even though I would prefer to not keep nursing her, I do, because it is what is best for her right now. Someday that won’t be the case, but she and I together and with my insight into her particular characteristics will stop when it is right.
Now I am not advocating nursing children indefinitely and truthfully this isn’t even a post about breast feeding. To leave the discussion there would entirely miss the point I am trying to emphasize. I am writing this in the hopes that parents & specifically moms finally leave each other alone. Why do we have to beat up on other moms? Especially the ones who are just trying to do their best every day and to do what is right for their children?
I am tired of the magazine covers showing pictures of moms breast feeding their 5 year old children. Things like that are dividing us even farther. Moms, stop letting the press do that to us! If you do it, just do it, but stop trying to turn yourself into some kind of a glorified advocate/martyr. Moms should be able to do what is right for their children and adding in the unnecessary element of a public stage to the discussion is really not helpful.
True acceptance can only come when we as moms start accepting each other for what we are, and when we stop placing imaginary fences between us marking our differences. We aren’t all that different, really. We have a child, we want what is best for them, we love, we try, sometimes we fail. We keep going because we love that child so fiercely that there is nothing we wouldn’t do, within the bounds of morality, to help them.
I wish we could get to that point as a society and even as a world. Because motherhood is hard enough without having stones thrown at us, because maybe we do things a little different.
If you see a child in an obvious unsafe environment where they are being hurt, you NEED to step up. But don’t make the mom feel bad who feeds her family only organic food because you think it is silly. Or the mom who doesn’t use organic food. Or the mom who bottle feeds or the mom who safely co-sleeps. Or the mom who carries her 5 year old in a carrier on her back. What does it matter to you how they choose to parent?
It shouldn’t matter. Truthfully I think that our compassion, understanding and empathy towards those who are “different” could do a whole world of good.
I feel sometimes like social media can be such a hard place. Especially for mothers. All too frequently we see fights, cruel words and barbs being thrown out at those or by those who are different from one another. In my small way I would like to see it change. I know I can’t change everything, especially not alone, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to make a difference. Even a small one.
So today I am launching the #MomDare. If you feel like you would like to see more empathy, more compassion and more kindness towards mothers and motherhood, I would love if you joined me.
To participate just use the hashtag #MomDare in a FB or twitter post or anywhere you would like on the social media of your choice. Or send it in a text to another mother you would like to support. No one has to even see it. Your actions will be working to strengthen another mother who just might be needing those encouraging words you have to give her.
I am not going to monitor all of this, please do it just because you want to and mostly because we need each other and the kindness and strength we can gather from one another. I would love to see #MomDare fill up the blank spaces where derision and scorn currently dominate social media, at least a small portion of it.
So before I go, hugs to all of my mom friends, and also a request. Sometime in the near future if you see me nursing my toddler, a quick smile would be appreciated. You might not agree with me for doing it, but your smile will speak volumes more than your words ever could.
Stay Happy! Stay Informed!
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