You turned two this past April. Now it’s June. You are twenty six months and counting. We nursed past the minimum recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We nursed past the minimum recommendation of the World Health Organization. There are no more minimums to pass. We’re running out past our goals, past those finish lines. You nurse still, and it seems you will for quite some time yet to come.
When you were three weeks old I wrote you a letter about comfort nursing, about not feeling like a human pacifier.
There is a school of thought that looks down on the idea of mothers being pacifiers instead of the use of plastic pacifiers. There is another school of thought that looks down on the idea of pacifiers at all- human or plastic. I don’t like those schools. I like the one that says it’s okay to find human contact comforting. That comfort is free. That emotions are real. That we are strong enough to deal with them, but that comfort helps make them more manageable. That no, we don’t need comfort. We’re strong enough to deal with a multitude of things all on our own. We’re strong enough to be separated from our tribe, our family, and strong enough to deal with the stress that happens when that occurs. But.. Even though we are strong enough, why? Is it necessary to live out our days being this strong if someone is willing and happy to help, to be our tribe, to snuggle close and be a source of comfort?
You still comfort nurse. It’s not the only type of comfort that you have. We are big on physical contact in this family. We’re big on hugs and snuggles and wrestling. On read-alouds and carrying each of you sometimes even when you’re big enough to walk. Not because you’re unable to walk. But because it’s a form of closeness when you’re feeling small and overwhelmed. Sometimes you want to nurse. Sometimes you want a hug. Sometimes you want to sit across from me and tell me as much of the story of what happened as you have words for, waving your hands about for emphasis, and gladly taking any new words that I have to offer for your experience.
Honestly, you’re comfort nursing less and less. You fall asleep with your head on my shoulder and my hand tangled up in your hair as I rub your scalp. You trace my collarbone with your fingers and watch the ceiling fan as it spins above. Sometimes you pull your head back to my elbow, look up at me, and tell me about something you just remembered. And I listen and smile and respond, then remind you that the sun is setting and it’s the end of the day, and that it’s time to snuggle down to sleep. You whisper “yes” and nod your head, happy with the comfort of the familiar.
I feel no need to wean you from this, as you are weaning yourself. Gradually. Gradually weaning yourself. I could say “Okay, you’re able to take other things that means that you’re done.” and I could push you away from this particular thing. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with doing that. We’ve made the minimum, we all have limits and boundaries that we set as needed.
When you are upset you come running for hugs, for kisses, for conversation, for closeness, for nursing. You do not ask for ice cream, a toy, television, or distraction. You look for a safe place to feel. You’re the one to know when it’s time to move past that type of comfort on to other types of comforting things. I’m not waiting on a minimum anymore. You’re two. Now we’re just waiting on you. Happily.
Note: I know that this is a touchy subject for some moms. Nursing aversion is VERY real and can make comfort nursing into a particular type of hell. Some moms had the goal of two and were not able to make it for whatever combination of reasons. Love to you mamas, no judgement. Sometimes our lives don’t line up with our wishes and desires and best intentions. I find the joy where I can, because there are enough of those things that I wished for that never came to be. That sadness is like quicksand. Try not to be sucked in. <3