At the beginning of October, I read a fellow mom writing about her last days nursing her daughter. Wood described herself as "a closet extended breastfeeder." I remember reading the post and really relating; at nearly 29 months, you were still breastfeeding before bed, and sometimes for a nap in the afternoon. The sessions rarely lasted longer than 2 minutes, and of course you were able to forgo any substitute when I wasn't there. You didn't even want a small cup of rice milk. Not many people knew I still breastfed, but I wasn't totally closed about it either. I had decided that, as long as we were both happy, our nighttime ritual was okay with me -- I did hope that, by 3, you'd be finished. We had our little dialog about nursing, though. You'd sit in your chair and we'd "talk about nursing." We discussed how tiny babies needed milk from their mothers, but that you are a big girl and were therefore ready to be finished. For many weeks we'd end the conversation and you'd still ask me to nurse.
Then, last Wednesday night, it just felt right to hold you on the floor and to really mean it -- to really be finished nursing. I held you while you cried, "momma nurse you" until you fell asleep. I didn't cry then, but after you were limp and gentle in my arms, we put you into your bed. I immediately went to the couch and fell asleep; it wasn't yet 9 p.m. Then next day, you did announce you were all done nursing when I picked you up from Montessori. My heart broke there, in the car, as I asked you, "are you sure?" In that moment, I realized the extent to which...I was breastfeeding for myself. I mean, I didn't want to be the mother that breastfed because of my own inability to recognize that my daughter is growing up and needing me less. You did nurse before your nap on Thursday, but I could tell you just weren't into it. At bedtime, you were really done; you kissed and hugged and giggled your way into bed.
I don't know why, but I thought it would be more difficult for you. Did I want it to be? This transition is like many others have been -- when you've been ready to do something, whether it be walking or starting your first day of school -- you've done it with confidence, with a sureness of yourself and those around you.
So, on Thursday night I wept at the table as you happily drifted off to sleep, comforted by your cadre of dolls. I cried because this growing up is bittersweet -- inevitable -- beautiful. You are becoming the person I want you to be: independent and loving. I hope you never misunderstand my sadness at these moments. May there always be enough between us that you'll confidently walk away, yet know I am here for you when you look over your shoulder.