I could never really believe that you were going to be my final baby. But I know now. I know as I wrap you up in my arms. As I make up little apple slices for your snack. As I hold your hand to cross the street.
And as I bring you to my breast.
You look so big to everyone else…they do not see how tiny you still are. They do not see how much comfort breastfeeding brings you. When you’re overwhelmed by emotion…scared or tired.
They do not see how comfort feeding is just as important as breastfeeding for hunger or thirst. You are seeking comfort the way children have been doing since the beginning of our existence as humans.
Your warmth, your comfort…it’s been your everything.
And you are almost done.
I can see it in your eyes when you look away to your book or ask for a snack instead. When you run over to be with your dad instead of snuggle to my breast. How you drift off to sleep at night all on your own…instead of at the breast.
You are growing…you are gaining independence…
You are becoming you. Without me.
When I ask you now, “Is there still milk in there?” Sometimes you shake your head “no” but that doesn’t stop you from staying on for a few minutes. Your eyes looking around, with your little hand on my shoulder and your legs draped over mine.
For that one little moment we are quiet together, no need for words or song. Just being. You are not asking me to tie your shoes or play with your Lego. You are not asking me why the sun shines or why the firetruck is so loud.
You are just simply content to be still.
To be quiet.
To be comforted.
When you hurt your foot today you cried, you started to walk away…and then you remembered.
“I want boobie” you cried to me. You had not breastfed all day, but you needed it in that moment. We cuddled on the couch while you breastfed your tears away. Your breathing slowed and your cheeks started to dry. You had found your comfort and when you were done, you happily walked away to read a book on the couch.
How can anyone say you are too old? You are so little. You are still discovering the world around you, still trying to navigate your own feelings and emotions, amongst everyone elses’.
Tonight as I looked at you while breastfeeding, as I looked at your long legs draped across mine…I remembered how I used to hold you in one arm.
I used to barely feel your weight . As I breastfeed you to sleep now I do not for even one moment question mothering you through breastfeeding.
It has brought you comfort.
It has brought you safety.
It has brought you sleep.
The next morning instead of coming into my bed for your morning breastfeed you continued to walk down the hall. You grabbed your basket, put on your sunglasses and walked out into the morning sun to “pick weeds”.
You did not even look at me while heading outside. Your independence is blossoming. Our bond through breastfeeding did not create a barrier to you going out on your own. It created a security that allowed you to feel confident in your own space when the time was right.
You are almost done. We have formed something that only a breastfeeding mother and child can understand. It is not just about “the milk”. It is about so much more.
You have been drinking out of a cup for years…but you still need the occasional breastfeed.
You can eat an entire beef and cheese burrito…but you still need the occasional breastfeed.
You can sing songs and tell stories…but you still need the occasional breastfeed.
You can dance and hop…skip and jump…but you still need the occasional breastfeed.
I can only hope that one day,
when your partner has a baby,
you will support her to mother through breastfeeding as well…
Just as you have been.