the weaning process: more challenging than i expected

When the controversial Time magazine cover appeared last year of the 3-year-old standing on a chair nursing, he looking at the camera with his eyebrows raised, she with her hands on her hips, I had an opinion. But I didn’t share it with many people and I didn’t read the opinion pieces.

My view: To each their own. Parenting, unless abusive, is like religion. There are many “right” ways and your decisions are nobody’s business.

I was offended by the image on the cover because the mom was standing in a sexy pose. She’s in all black, arched away from the child rather than cradling him. There is nothing sexual about breast-feeding. It’s natural, biological, wonderful, sometimes painful, sometimes a chore — but not sexual. I have had moments where my back hurt or when I was tired and didn’t want to nurse, but overall, I’ve loved it.

I get why moms stick with it (though maybe not so long that the child can walk over and say, “Mom, can I have a sip?” But even then, I’m learning not to judge.) I’m already nursing longer than I expected. C. is 14 months, and I thought I’d be done by now. My goal was to get to 12 months and then assess.

What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to wean. It’s hard to say no to your crying toddler who wants comfort and to show him that he can get comfort other ways. It’s hard to create that separation when you’ve been bonded physically since he was born. It’s hard to change up a sleeping routine on a babe who’s sleeping well. And it’s hard to say goodbye to the baby chapter and embrace toddler-hood.

So, I’ve adjusted my goals and expectations around weaning. I realize now it’s going to be a long, slow and sometimes sad process. But I’m ready to have my body back and have a bit of freedom to leave C. for the night. My goal is to be completely done by June when we’re traveling east and plan to leave him with his grandparents for the night. Wish me luck.

*Addendum: C. was fully weaned by 15 1/2 months.

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