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Dear Nursing Toddler: It’s Not You, It’s Me

To my dear, sweet nursling,

Let me start off by saying, this is not easy.

We have had a wonderful, long journey together. (17 months today to be exact.) Honestly, I didn’t ever think we would make it this long. My thought was by 12 months or so you would get bored with me and be ready to explore life on your own. But you still found a way to need me and so this nursing journey continued.

Our early months were fulfilling for us both. We were attached at the boob often and while it was mostly for the sake of nutrition, it was also for the sake of contentment. There were extended nights of marathon nursing, most of those nights I lost count of how many times you needed me. During those first few months, your wish was my command. 

And now you are a walking, talking toddler.

This moment for me has been a struggle of head versus heart. In my head I know you don’t need my milk. I know you are receiving your nutritional needs through your second and sometimes third servings at the dinner table. I know nursing is now more of a comfort and a routine for you.

But then comes my heart. Maybe you do need my milk. Maybe you just need your mama. Maybe that source of comfort is what soothes a busy toddler who has had a long day of learning new things and investigating this new world of yours. Maybe that 3 AM rocking-chair feeding is reassuring you that mom will always be there when you need her. Maybe you’re teething, or you aren’t feeling well and the only thing that will calm you down is the warmth of your mama’s milk.

I understand it may look funny to others to see you toddle over and wriggle into my lap. Your legs are overflowing, your body won’t fit much longer in this baby cradle position. But once you are there and it’s just me and you, it is the most natural feeling I have ever felt. You suddenly are my baby again. I can close my eyes and I don’t even recognize your size, but I just feel the unbreakable bond between a mama and her babe. It is that contentment again. For both you and me.

Not all of our moments have been blissful. There have been some rocky times. Times that teeth got involved (not cool). Times when I sobbed and shouted “Why can’t you just take a bottle?!?!” Times that I was ready to throw in the towel because I longed for more than 45 minutes of consecutive sleep and perhaps without a 9 month old suctioned to my nipple the entire time.

But I wouldn’t trade any of it.

I am proud of the commitment I have made to you. Although this wasn’t in my plan, it has brought me a joy that I wasn’t expecting.  

I think the most important thing for you to know is that it is not you, it’s me. You see, for the last 26 months, my body has been supplying for another human being. While it is my greatest delight to be able to provide for my babies, I am also feeling ready to be free of those demands. (But don’t worry- I’ll still feed you endless amounts of bananas and go-gurts.)

So this isn’t goodbye. Mommy just needs a little space. My lap is always open to you, so I beg you to keep walking over to me and crawling into it. Maybe just without the shirt-tugs.

I love you,

Mama

 

 

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2 Responses to Dear Nursing Toddler: It’s Not You, It’s Me

  1. leslie ragan December 9, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

    I came upon your blog post just after reading an article from USA today.com addressing arsenic levels found to be too high in baby’s rice cereals. Arsenic is known to cause neurotoxicity, cancer, and developmental problems. An advocacy group is challenging the FDA to do something about this. In the meantime, you can feel great in providing good nutrition to your toddler in a way no one else can, in addition to lots of love. Bravo!

    • Erika Hanna
      Erika Hanna December 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      Thank you, Leslie! I appreciate your encouragement. 🙂

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