My home is almost never quiet. Except for the very late and extremely early hours of the day, there is always activity and noise and voices. With five kids, that is pretty much a given.
So, when it was time to nurse the baby, I welcomed the respite. The chance to go into a quiet, darkened room with just her, sit down, and do nothing (or at least, nothing that required thought). It was relaxing and a good excuse to just take a break from all of the things that crowd my head and my day.
But that’s not what I’m going to miss most now that I’ve weaned my daughter.
From the moment she first learned to latch, she would go from a squirmy, crying, frantic bundle to one of utter stillness. The moment she latched on and knew she was getting what she needed, she calmed down and settled in for a feeding.
In that moment, I felt most like a mother, a provider and protector. Her limp, little body told me that I was taking care of her and she trusted me to do it. I was providing for her most basic need in a way that only I could (sorry, dads).
But, that’s not what I’m going to miss most now that she’s weaned either.
What I am going to miss is that those feelings, that closeness, those moments will cease to exist. Except in my own memory.
I look at my other children, all of whom only nursed until about 10 months, and I know that they don’t remember being breastfed. When they’ve seen me feeding their younger siblings over the years, they ask questions and are mildly curious, but they have no recollection of doing it themselves.
In a flurry of sippy cups, solid “real person” food, and new bedtime routines, the moments that I cherish will become nothing but a foggy memory, until they are forgotten altogether. Maybe that isn’t the case for children that are nursed longer, until they are two or three years old. But, 14 months is the longest that I have ever gone.
It makes me sad to think that she won’t remember those hours that we spent cuddled together, in our own little world, full of trust and love and companionship. But even though I know that the specifics of this last year will be forgotten, there are things that came out of it that will never be lost.
Those hours and hours of feedings, of answered cries, of hunger assuaged; the hundreds of hand-holds, the thousands of hair-strokes, the millions of rockings in our chair; they all built the foundation of our love for each other, mother to daughter.
As she grows, it will be the reason that she will miss me when I leave. Why she’ll come to me when she’s hurt. Why she’ll know that I will always be there to take care of her. In my arms and with my hugs, she’ll instinctively feel herself calm, just as she did as a baby, because what is quintessentially me will speak to her on the most basic level.
And it works the same for me. Holding my children, smelling their hair, and holding their hands lowers my heart rate and my stress better than anything else in the world. Everything recedes for a few moments and my heart tells me that I am just where I need to be, where I was meant to be.
So while I mourn the loss of that special time that we spent together, that it will be more of a memory for me than it will be for her (for all of them), I know that we must move forward. And what is ahead is just as precious, but in a different way.
How did you feel when you stopped breastfeeding? Was it hard, or were you ready for it to happen? Let me know in the comments.