You are only three weeks old and so no one really asks yet about your weaning time. Those questions will come later, along with the many and varied opinions about when you should be weaned. Having been through this twice before with your older brothers, I already know the answer to this.
Let me share a secret with you. Weaning is misunderstood. It views nursing as an act with a beginning and an end where the end is chosen and a hard drawn line in the sand. It’s not like that.
Nursing is a part of motherhood, of parenthood. It blends in with all of the other things and it fades in from the obligations of pregnancy and then fades out into the series of obligations of a parent to their growing child.
There was no hard drawn line for the start. Even before your birth you drew from my body. You grew within my womb. You were nourished from my placenta. I was your life support system and home while you prepared to be born. It was when you were ready to be born that you signaled to my body that it was time, and it was then that labor began.
Moments after you were born. You squinched your little eyes at me and bobbed your head around and fussed because you understood that there was something to be done, but not what to do. Instead of sucking, you chomped down. Then you pulled your head back and mewled. We worked together and gradually you learned what to do. And a few days later you stopped biting and set into an easy pattern of nursing that allowed my cracked nipples to heal and my milk to flow.
I do not know the moment that you were conceived. I do not know the moment that your cord stopped pulsing. I do not know the moment that you stopped chomping down and began to nurse.
Some day you will no longer need the sustenance from my body, your suckling reflex will fade away, and instead of turning eagerly toward my breast you will do as your older brother does now as I am writing this. You’ll turn your back to me and curl into my arms in a different way, and you will comfort yourself to sleep with my proximity rather than my breast. And then on another day further into the future you will be even more independent still and instead of curling into my arm you will use my belly as a pillow while you talk to me about Kindergarten friends, as your oldest brother does. And then you will walk back to your own room and your own bed, and you will fall asleep on your own.
I do not know the moment that you will stop nursing. I do not know the moment that you will stop comforting yourself to sleep with the closeness of me. I do not know the moment that you will move off and be fully independent with a life of your own creation. I know that you will do each of these things when it is time for you to do them. And I know that I will smile with pride at your independence even if I want to hold on a little longer.
The commitment that I’ve made to you is life-long. There is no hard start, no hard ending, no fading away of obligation. There is no “weaning” that I plan on doing. There is you. There is your quest for independence. There are the needs that drive your little body and that will fade and change with time. And there is me. My job is simply to be here and meet your needs as you have them. I need neither to push you away nor hold onto you, as you will peel off or cling close according to your needs.
You already have that drive for independence and will take it eagerly at your own pace. Weaning is not something that I need to do. It is something that you will do as an inevitable part of growing up and of life.
I will not hold you back, and I will not push you away. I will not nurse you forever, but I will always be there for you and I will always love you.
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