Dear Vito –
As I write this, you’re playing in the living room, just beside my work area. Listening to you sing “Old MacDonald” for the hundredth time in the last three days is driving me crazy, to be honest. The fact that you also were extremely challenging to take care of today is an understatement. It’s been a particularly rough week for me, in terms of work and doing the housework. But nothing comes close to the strange pain of wrenching emotions inside of me when I think of how it’s been 13 days since you last nursed from me.
I never imagined I’d be nursing a 2 and a half year old. When you were six months, I remember sighing out of relief that I’d not be at your beck and call every two hours. Don’t get me wrong: I loved nursing you. I loved that I was able to rearrange my career so that I could work from home, just so that I could nurse you on demand. I loved that I could always be with you when you were at your neediest stage in life. I sometimes miss those early days.
But then, you changed. Slowly, you started to nurse less. After your first year, you shot up in height; you began walking faster than I could keep up with you. You began counting to ten and saying the alphabet, and spelling out words on billboards whenever we’d take a car ride. Of course, in many ways, you still knew you were a baby. Yes, you’d ask for “mami’s miwk” (mommy’s milk) when you knew you needed it, or when you were lonely, frustrated, in need of cuddles, or simply tired. But not as often.
You asked for my milk less and less.
In these past two weeks, you’ve not asked for my milk at all.
You’ve been rather independent. You’ve not been waking up at night.
You’ve not been looking for me to nurse you.
I never thought I’d admit it… but I don’t like this feeling now. Not the feeling of not being needed by you, but the feeling that, hey… you’ve changed, baby. You’ve changed, and you don’t know how it’s changing me.
The look on your face every time you’d ask to be breastfed has haunted me each night of the past week. Strangely, I miss seeing it. Tonight, I know you’ll be content to just lie beside me, with your hand down the front of my shirt and cuddled against me. You seem to have forgotten to turn up that shirt; you’re content to just cuddle. Gosh, I have been waiting for this. And yet, I wonder why I am not celebrating.
Letting you nurse for as long as you did, and being around you almost 24/7, they say, will be good for you. I’ve read parenting books and baby websites that have said breastfeeding you for as long as I did would be great for your health, your development, our relationship as mom and child, and whatnot.
But you know what I do know? Nursing you for as long as I did has turned out to be good for me.
I will always be grateful to you for teaching me that I could be a mom, and that no matter how many times I’ve failed you, I have always been enough for you.
I love you, Vito.