Motherhood is uniquely hard, but it’s made so much harder by the pressures of others who disagree with your methods, or who push their ideas on you.
Sure, we ought to seek advice, and learn from the mistakes of others. We ought to know what to expect, so that we’re prepared to deal with the various challenges that will arise from this new vocation. But, most of all, we need to enjoy it! We need to be actively involved in the decisions we make, rather than following a herd to an unknown destination.
I’ve been pretty unhappy lately. My 16-month old is still breastfeeding, and seems to be more demanding than ever. I’d initially targeted 12 months to start weaning him, but he resisted profusely, and so I set the new deadline at 18 months. It doesn’t look like we’re going to make that either. It may be that he can tell that I’m wanting to cut him off, because his cries for breastfeeding have become more hysterically and scary, like a addict suffering from withdrawal symptoms!
I’m open minded about breastfeeding longer, and trying to wean him off after two years. However, it seems everyone else thinks I’m some sort of second grade mother because I’m still breastfeeding a toddler! Though the ‘experts’ recommend breastfeeding up to two years, many experienced mothers, who are supposed to be the real ‘experts’, seem to look down on breastfeeding after the first year. So, the pressure to get my baby weaned is making me feel like I’m failing, and making my baby more clingy, and us more miserable, in a time that we ought to be enjoying our bond and savouring our relationship!
It’s easy to say “don’t listen to the pressure”, “do what’s best for you”, “trust your instincts”, which I read a lot, when I’m trying to get answers online, but it’s hard not to feel like you’re getting it all wrong! That your baby should be doing this and that by now. I know that it is different for everyone, but I wish I didn’t feel like I have to fight for our right to be different. I wish people were not so judgmental and opinionated about motherhood. I wish more people respect the basic instincts of a mother. I wish I didn’t care so much about what other people think about my mothering!
So, I’ve decided to take the pressure off weaning. I know some who have nursed until their child was three, and others, who worried about weaning, only to have their baby quit on them, leaving them with the longing to nurse! It will happen because my baby is a healthy child, who is growing into a young boy, soon to be a gentleman. I like knowing that breastfeeding has helped to keep him from getting ill often. He will stop breastfeeding eventually, just like he stopped crawling, with no pressure from me. It’s time I got back to enjoying our nursing relationship, rather than watching the clock! I just have to be content that my approval is all I need.
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