For mine, it was more like giving them crack. Wait, let me back up a bit. I love looking back through my online archives for small, unremembered nuggets of family life and recently came across one from 2004, when I was still nursing my children and feeling a bit defensive about what others might have to say about extended breastfeeding.
At the time, I was desperately trying to wean my daughter, but I seem to put out crack-laced milk and she had the same extreme reluctance to wean as my first two children did. Along those lines, I had a very interesting conversation with my two youngest one morning.
We were all having the morning puppy-pile in my bed before we got up to greet the day, and as usual Daphne was clamoring for “mama.” Sigh. I thought, “When is this going to end?” I don’t mind extended breastfeeding, I really don’t. I support it, and practiced it. It was the emotional pain of weaning and taking away something familiar and comforting to my own flesh and blood that I couldn’t stand.
So, as I was telling my daughter that she may not have mama, but that I would happily give her a cup of milk or juice, I noticed that my son had become very thoughtful. “Mommy, she wants mama.”
“I know sweetie, but we’re trying to only have that at bedtime.”
I turned to my daughter. “Can you tell me why you like mama better than milk? Isn’t milk yummy?”
She went into a massive pout.
“OK,” I said, turning back to her brother, “why do you think she wants it more than milk or juice? Do you remember what it’s like?”
His face lit up. “Yes! It tastes like white milk, and it’s sweet, like candy. It’s like candy milk, and it’s very yummy. But I don’t like mama any more. I’m too big.”
Well, there you have it folks. The reasoning behind why some children just refuse to wean. Because it tastes like sweet candy milk. If someone tried to get me to stop having a raspberry-filled chocolate with my morning coffee after having it every day of my life, I’d get defensive too.
Just think of this, though: even more than a year after his last taste, a little boy still gets all warm and happy and cuddly and smiley when he remembers. How many children have this sort of memory, this visceral connection that stretches from nourishment as an infant, to comfort as a toddler, to warm memory during snuggles as a child and beyond?
What do you think? It there a hard-and-fast upper limit to how long one should breastfeed (assuming of course that she can)? Is there a lower limit, one mothers should try to reach, if possible, before turning to formula?
Do you think that moms like me are just a little crazy, or perhaps are there others out there who don’t feel quite so free to talk about their own experiences with extended breastfeeding?