I’ve always said that I would let Gavin wean himself off the breast when he is ready. He is three years plus and still nursing so strong on some days that I often wonder when and if the day for self-weaning will ever come. They say it’ll happen but I can’t help but wonder when sometimes because I fear he’ll end up being one of those children we hear about who is nearly 10 years old and still drinking breast milk.
Well, it appears my fears are unfounded. My boy is growing up…
A couple of nights ago, Gavin had a nightmare. I think it was the first nightmare that he was able to articulate. He woke up fussing and when I tried to get him back to sleep, he said, “I need to tell the story…” Then he kept pointing to his head. It took me a while to realise he was talking about the story he saw in his head. Even though he wanted to tell me about it, he could not find the words to explain what he dreamed about. He wasn’t hysterical so I presume it wasn’t a very bad nightmare, but it was sufficiently upsetting as to rouse him from his sleep.
Then I did what I usually do to help him get back to sleep after waking fretfully – I offered him the breast. To my surprise, he asked for milk. Nope, not breast milk – cow’s milk. Gavin distinguishes between the two by referring breast milk as “nen” and cow’s milk as “milk”. After drinking the bulk of the milk – we usually offer him the 250ml Dutch Lady milk packets – he settled back into the cot to sleep. He didn’t insist on getting back into bed with Gareth and me, and he didn’t ask to nurse.
I was utterly gobsmacked. Admittedly, I was also feeling a tad unwanted. After three years of being the center of his life and the keeper of the sacred milk, I had been relegated and was no longer needed. I was surprisingly more heart broken over it than he was.
After that one incident, he’s back on the breast again. However, I think I have just witnessed the beginning of the end of our nursing relationship.
If you’re still nursing your toddler and wondering when he or she is ever going to self-wean – stop. Just enjoy the moment because the day when your toddler no longer wants the breast any more is closer than you realise. And when it arrives, you’ll wish it didn’t.
Times like these – amidst all the howling, tantrums and difficult behaviours – I remember to cherish these precious moments with my son and I am glad that I chose to take the path that allowed me to spend as much time with his as possible. Times like these, I remember that I should also try to relish every moment I have with Gareth because he, too, will grow up all too quickly.
Once upon a time, he needed me to build his railway tracks for him. Now, he can do it all by himself…