We had a terrific group of moms at A Nurturing Moment today for our Mommy Milk Meet-up. One mom was a little concerned because her one year old seemed to be loosing interest in day time nursings. This mom really hoped to nurse for a couple of years before allowing her baby to self-wean. Of course, bedtime nursings are a different story! Baby is still eager for that before bed cuddle time with Mom!
Usually a baby won't self-wean this early as long as Mom is still offering nursing opportunities. But every baby is different! One mom in the group explained how her very strong-willed little girl just decided she didn't want to have anything to do with nursing right around her first birthday. Mom kept trying, but baby wanted no part of it! This was more than just a nursing strike...it was an emerging toddler eager to get on with the next stage of life, much to her mom's dismay!
If we can view the weaning process as a continuum that begins with breastfeeding and lasts for the next 18 years or so, it might help lend perspective. Weaning, in this paradigm, doesn't simply refer to the separation of the baby from the breast. That is merely the first weaning. Other weanings will occur throughout childhood. Parents who co-sleep will eventually wean their child from their bed. Those who send their children to school will wean their children from the nest that is home. As children grow and become involved in scouts, sports, music lessons, ballet, horseback riding, church youth group and a myriad of other activities, the weaning process will continue.
Weaning, in its simplest form, is simply the process of your child becoming less dependent upon you. As moms, our most important job is to raise our children to become self-sufficient, confident, well-balanced adults. I suspect that most readers of this blog would agree that attachment parenting is the best way to accomplish this goal. After all, research clearly demonstrates that children who are attachment-parented demonstrate greater independence and self-assured confidence as they grow older. They also tend to be more responsive to their parents' correction and discipline.
Last night at 11:30 I had the bittersweet privilege of taking my 17 year old son to school where he and his classmates boarded a bus headed for Jacksonville, Florida, and their senior trip - a cruise to the Bahamas. As I write this, I know the ship has sailed. Although he texted me to let me know they were about to board, I know I won't hear from him again until next Saturday. The same tears that sprang to the eyes of the mom who thought her baby might be weaning are hiding just behind my eyelids now. But my son has grown up to be a remarkable young man, the product of attachment parenting. All too soon I'll take him to Tuscaloosa and leave him there...the weaning will continue! Aftre all, that's why I became a mom - to work myself out of a job!