The past couple of weeks have been hectic for my family. We had a family vacation in Nashville with my husband's parents, his brother, and his brother's family. Four kids 4 years old and under, with another on the way! That family is expanding rapidly. We got back on Monday, then I had to turn around immediately on Wednesday and leave for Savannah to be Matron of Honor at a friend's wedding.
That means I was gone for 5 days. By myself.
I haven't been anywhere by myself for five days in over 4.5 years. I'm sure all of you know just how much of a luxury it was to be able to travel in a car by myself, to stay in a hotel by myself, to eat by myself, to sleep by myself, to do all the necessary MoH functions by myself, to hang out with friends by myself.
I almost didn't know what to do with myself!
As nice as it was, though, there was a little bit of nervousness tucked into the back of my mind. My daughter has always been an independent little thing, so I had no qualms about her. My son, at just over 2.5 years old, is a somewhat different story. He's still pretty independent; he's not a clingy child. However, he's also still nursing.
So this trip was a jaunt into the unknown. I've been away from him for 2 nights before, but I've never been away from him for 4 nights. I don't own a breast pump and knew I would have no real time to pump while I was gone anyway, nor any real way to store any pumped breast milk. I had no idea if he would fully wean himself while I was gone, or if he'd go back to nursing when I got back. He's been fine on the couple of trips I've taken previously, but this was double the amount of time, and I had no real way of knowing how he'd hold up emotionally.
Despite these worries ruminating in the back of my head, I decided to take the perspective of "what will be, will be." After all, we're rapidly approaching 3 years of nursing. It's not like he's been deprived of my milk. It's not like it'd be an early weaning if he did wean. And it was entirely probable that he'd go back to nursing when I came back, and all would be well.
So I resolved not to think about it while I was gone. I think my son took the same attitude as well. Every time I called and his father asked if he wanted to talk to me, he'd laugh and say no. Apparently the first night I was gone, he asked for me and said he wanted to nurse, but he wasn't upset when Daddy told him that I was gone and he couldn't nurse. He was very happy while I was gone and didn't throw any tantrums or get upset. He went to sleep easily, woke up easily, and was just the happy-go-lucky little guy that I've come to know and love.
I got back early evening on Sunday and was exhausted. Late nights, early mornings, and an 8 hour drive were not sitting well with me. My son ran up to me and hugged me and started talking my ear off about everything he could think of, but he didn't ask to nurse. We wandered into the backyard so that he and my daughter could show me the greenhouse Daddy had built while I was gone. We played with the soccer balls. We discussed what they had done while I was gone.
An hour passed, and I started thinking, "Well, maybe he really has weaned." Then he asked me to pick him up. I hiked him up and snuggled him, then he looked down with a grin on his face and said, "I want to nurse!"
And so here we are, back where we started. We're nursing like we were previously. He seems quite content with how things are, and my absence seems to have had no ill effects. At one point when we first started nursing again, he incredulously said, "Mommy, all gone!", but he hasn't let that deter him from nursing. My supply seems to be back up to what it was.
And so we continue on in our nursing journey. Now that I know I can leave him and come back, I'm much more settled about extended nursing. I value my physical independence, and it's been a struggle off and on to keep nursing for long periods of time. Now, however, I'm pretty content with how things are, with the fact that it's our special bonding time but it's not something that he absolutely has to have. I don't feel the need to push weaning, like I did before (with frustrating results). I'm content to let him have more of a say in when this part of our lives is over.
Life is good.