I’m Afraid to Stop Breastfeeding

A few months ago I wrote about how I was still nursing my toddler Case and how it’s totally NOT weird. He’s going to turn two years old in just a couple months and, while I am essentially employing the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” tactic that many nursing mothers know so well, he still demands to nurse three, sometimes four times a day. As a matter of fact, when he first wakes up each morning, I have to block out at least 45 minutes of snuggle time lest he fall to pieces and remain completely inconsolable. Considering the fact that he tends to wake up and start his days around 4:45AM, the last thing I want to hear at that hour is my toddler losing his junk. So, we nurse.

Recently, a lot of people have asked me about why I haven’t tried to wean Case yet, and I struggle to articulate an answer. To some of them, I simply shrug and say, “Hey, if it ain’t broke…” To others, I remind them that the only reason I weaned my first son Dax was because I was pregnant with Case, and so I have no idea really how to wean without being in a position where I have to wean. To the rest, I smile and speak about how simply wonderful it is to just be needed in a way that no other person is needed.

All of those reasons are true, undoubtedly. But when I really sit down and think about why I have little to no desire to start the weaning process, the truth is way too clear (and honestly, too embarrassing) for me to avoid much longer.

The truth is that I haven’t tried to wean Case because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that breastfeeding is the only thing I’m good at as a mother.

There, I said it.

With both of my boys, nursing came so easily for us. I had no issues with my milk supply, I had little to no discomfort (save the first three weeks of Dax’s life when my nipples were adjusting to their new full-time job), I lost weight faster than a sorority girl on a lemon-water-cayenne-pepper cleanse, and we all really enjoyed it.  From day one, there was really no question of whether or not I was “doing it right.” I was. I am. But I don’t have that same confidence with literally anything else as a parent.

I’m not confident in my disciplining practices. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to adequate meal planning. I probably let my kids have way too much screen time, and not enough outside time. I’m probably on my phone too much, and I don’t consult them before posting a picture of them on the Internet. As a person, I can’t say either way if I’m setting a good or bad example for them.

But am I nailing the breastfeeding thing? Absolutely.

The second Case weans, so long as I’m not pregnant and therefore “on deck” for nursing again, the cornerstone of my parenting confidence will come crumbling down into dust, getting lost in the vast confusion that is raising tiny humans. And that’s terrifying to me.

That said, I remember the night I weaned Dax. It was my birthday, because I am apparently a masochist, and I cried so hard at the unknown. I didn’t know what parenting looked like without the ability to comfort my child via nursing. I didn’t know if I could do it. But, he’s nearly five years old now, which means I’ve almost been parenting him sans breast milk as long as I parented him with it. And, barring the normal four-year-old tantrums and boundary challenges, we have a really great relationship. He’s smart, he’s considerate, he’s contemplative, and whenever he needs me, he runs to me. He’s still my little baby.

I know that this is what Case will be like, too – still my little one, my baby boy, whether nursing or not. But when I’m drowning in tantrums, unfinished meal plans, overtired nap-strikers, and the like, it’s so comforting to return to the one thing I know how to do – nursing and comforting my kid – to feel like I’m still doing okay at least with this one thing.

So, if you see me out at the park, and I acquiesce to my toddler’s demands for “nilk,” now you know why. Yes, it’s good for him. Yes, it’s easy. But mostly, it gives me the confidence I need to continue mothering the rest of the day. And that’s worth everything.