So, Micah turned two on Sunday. This also happened to be Easter Sunday, which was fine for this year, but I can see becoming a problem down the road. For one, we got so distracted with Easter dinner with family and friends that I lost track of time and neglected to make Micah a birthday cake. I rectified this mistake two days after the fact and, safe to say, she didn't notice. She blew out the candles like a champ- or maybe it was Kolbie... or Kayton... or Mason.... and her presents also got opened as though she'd been doing it for many years more than her two--although, again, she had a lot of assistance.
But birthday cake aside, her two year old birthday was even a bigger milestone for my sweet little girl than either she or I were prepared for. You see, since her first birthday, I've been promising my husband (and my mother-in-law.... and my friends... and my own parents... and my other three children) that I would wean my dear sweet baby girl.
I am not a crazy nursing fiend. Personally, I can't wait to have my body back to myself and my sleep-time uninterrupted by a 5am nursing call. Granted, it's been a few months since I've had to get out of bed to retrieve a crying child from her crib. These days, I typically wake up sometime between 4 and 5 am to a little fuzzy head peeping over the edge of my bed, face even with mine, patting my face, softly saying "Mommy, nurse! Mommy... 'ake up! Nurse!" If I am (and by "I am" I mean "they are") dangling too far off the bed she doesn't bother to wake me and just goes into nursing mode, standing next to my bed, half-asleep, but content-- reminiscent of what you would see if you visited a petting zoo. Yes, some days I do feel like a cow.
And it's not just me that's ready for the nursing to end. Many mornings JMahl has complained about Micah's half-awake attempts to find her source of comfort, patting him and pulling his chest hair to determine if... wait.. no, Mommy's not fuzzy right here and there's no milk forth-coming, so I must roll over, and... yes, that's Mommy... ah.... But the damage is already done. JMahl is already fundamentally (and probably permanently) disturbed by either A/ the patting and groping hands in the early morning hours or B/ his inability to fulfill the needs of his youngest child.
I'm more disturbed by the fact that she's physically strong enough and mentally smart enough to discard any clothing I may have covering her goal, regardless of where we are. And now she's vocal-- and by vocal, I mean she knows words-- alot of them-- although it's only six that really bother me. "MOMMY, I WANT TO NURSE NOW!!!!" Before she spoke, it wasn't such an embarrassing situation to nurse in public. She'd cry, people would smile sympathetically and nod their heads understandingly when I would ask "you don't mind if I nurse her, do you?". Now that she speaks, people look at me as though I'm nursing a nine year old. My husband is concerned that I will be nursing a nine year old.
So, birthday number two was the designated "time to start weaning the baby" day. And that day has come and gone. Oh, I try, but weaning is not so easy as I thought it would be. And yes, I did nurse my previous three, but Kayton and Mason weaned themselves, and Kolbie was easily weaned. I clearly remember the first time I told Kolbie no. She was about 22 months old, and I was pregnant with Micah. She looked at me very solemnly for a moment, then turned around and toddled off to play with one of her siblings. And that was that. Weaned. Micah isn't so easily distracted, although my husband says it's me and not her that is prolonging this issue.
And maybe he's right. Maybe it is me; or maybe, Micah understands that I'm just not ready. Physically, I'm ready. Socially, I'm beyond ready. Our society really doesn't approve of nursing past a certain point. It's just "disturbing" to see a child nursing in her mother's arms, then sit up, buckle up the nursing bra, and in a clear voice say "Thank you, Mommy, that was yummy. I'm going to go use the potty now, and then I'm going to read a book to you." Yes, Yes. I am definitely ready to avoid that situation. But mentally... mentally, am I ready yet?
I have four children, and I know I will not have any more. Micah is my last baby. But it's not just about prolonging her baby-hood. It's about, well, becoming unnecessary. There is something amazing, magical, and , yes, prideful, in the fact that when I look at this child of mine, I can see that she is 100% the result of me. She is, lives, and grows because of ME. Every ounce of her body came from mine-- something that can't be said about children once they no longer nurse. Then their body is made up of Daddy's sandwiches and Grandpa's cookies and the Cafeteria Lady's tacos and McDonald's chicken nuggets. But Micah is still me. And when she ceases to need me in this way, she not only ceases to be such a complete part of me, but I cease to be completely necessary. Nursing is the one way that I and ONLY I can appease her needs. Once she weans, she is an independent being, no longer relying solely on me for sustenance and comfort, but able to receive those from anyone who hands her a cookie or offers her a hug.
And maybe that's what this ultimately comes down to--- letting go of ME as the most important part of her life. Once a child weans, they are independent. They are their own person. They steal cookies out of the cookie jar when hungry; they go to school and learn other people's ideas and theories; they listen to their friends' moms more happily than they do their own. They become their own person. And while there is something very wonderful about watching your children grow into their own bodies and their own personalities, there is something very heart-breaking in realizing that you are just now an addendum to their life--still an important part of their life, but no longer the Creator and Sustainer of that life.
But isn't this the ultimate goal of parenthood? To create, to mold, to educate, to support, to love, to encourage, to promote the lives of our children, not our own? We give birth to our children so that they will, in turn, give birth to progress, creativity, hope, a future. We create them so they can create a better world, and very few people have been successful in this while still attached to their mothers. Literally.
And while the desire to prolong this transition from "part of me" to "part of my life" is strong, I recognize it must come some day. And it probably should come before my husband gives up sleeping in our bed altogether or I am completely ostracized from all polite society. And I'd like it to come while there is still some chance that I can regain my pre-nursing body.... but that doesn't mean I'm not going to mourn this loss of my "baby", and it doesn't mean it's going to happen overnight; but it will happen, I'm sure of it. At the very least, by the time Micah decides to run for political office, she'll know that she'll either need to quit on her own or do a darn good job of hiding it from the media.