A few months ago I began to worry about my then 14 month old. His language skills didn’t seem to be on par with his brother (29 months). Yes I know that every mother worries about such things, scouring the internet, interrogating friends to figure out when their child said what. And I certainly know that its silly, if not detrimental to compare siblings. But in realty it’s sort of impossible not to. Especially when your children are as close in age as mine are. So I started to step up my one on one attention to my little man. I also had begun to get seriously antsy about our seemingly constant nursing relationship.
So I began to watch him I realized that every time he cried or whined I nursed him. Now don’t get me wrong this is a fine practice for a 3 month old, or a 10 month old. But a child who was eating as much as his 2.5 yr old brother wasn’t looking to nurse for substance. So in theory it was comfort he was looking for….ok, that’s absolutely fine, I can deal with that. But I felt strongly that his cognition was that of a capable child able to enunciate his actual needs. Perhaps if he was just encouraged to separate between comfort, hunger, and thirst we might both be less frustrated? It occurred to me that maybe this is an issue with kids his age in general. And while I absolutely believe in nursing as long and as much as needed/wanted by mama and baby, I was beginning to see that in our case, I was doing him a bit of a disservice. So I started gently directing him towards food or drink before offering to nurse him. In just a week his vocabulary tripled. He was no longer seemingly constantly frustrated with me because I wasn’t sitting and nursing him incessantly. Which, for the record, is nearly impossible if the rest of my family wants food or clean clothes. And also, he was less frustrated in general; because even though his needs were all being met by nursing, he was still not feeling like he was being heard.
After this was cleared up a few months passed and I began to see another pattern. My now 16 month old was screaming at me whenever I entered the room. He wanted nothing to do with me if I wasn’t nursing him. It seemed that the only comfort he could get from me was when he was nursing. I struggled with this nightly, because it caused me untold amounts of stress and anxiety to the point where I was avoiding my own kid. If I tried to stop nursing him to get up and see to his brother or simply because I was just done he would scream. It just wasn’t working anymore. We needed a healthy transition and a readjustment.
At that point I was going back and forth almost daily. Wean him? Don’t wean him because he doesn’t seem to be ready! Either way I was miserable and racked with guilt. I was so worried that I was about to cut off his only connection to true comfort and stability and that weaning him would forever scar him and make him insecure,. In doing so all my hard work to nurse on demand and bond with him would be shot. I am a master at guilting myself! After a few weeks of this misery I realized something important.
You can’t control how you screw your kids up, so don’t obsess about what you think you’re doing wrong. You won’t scar your kids in the ways you expect; you’ll do it in ways you hadn’t even considered. So I need to stop inflicting this superficial layer of a thick and rich fear/guilt chutney and focus on the transition I have chosen to make. Do I firmly believe that the transition is good for his development and his advancement? Yes! Do I firmly believe that weaning him is the best thing for my mental health and well being? Yes! Do I believe in my gut that this will enhance my relationship with him in the long run and we will become even more close as we find new ways to connect? Absolutely. So put down the cross and dedicate yourself to making this transition beautiful and healthy for both of you. All struggles are only about how you walk through them. Do it one last time, for strictly sentimental reasons, on your own terms, you’re the adult here. Then be done. Just like that. And nurture him through it and be calm. Ditch the guilt. There is nothing to feel guilty about except using your kids confusion because you can’t make up your mind to validate your own neurosis. Kids are traumatized because they see the adults struggle. They learn from watching our every move. So if it’s a health happy thing for you, it will be a happy healthy and freeing thing for him!
“Guilt is just your ego’s way of tricking yourself into thinking that you’re making moral progress. Don’t fall for it.” EPL
Aryeal Jackson blogs at http://wavesofsynchronicity.weebly.com/ When she isn’t chasing her two boys or writing she can be found at Mamas Comfort Camp on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mamas.comfort.camp
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