My son is a boob man. As I suppose are most suckling babies. But this kid has it particularly bad.
My nipple is a cure for pretty much all that ails him: hurt, hunger, boredom, exhaustion, boredom. I've indulged him because I love that little boob man something fierce and frankly it works swimmingly to solve the above baby problems. And I'm also living in a place where "nyo nyo" (nursing) is used, just as I have, like a constant pacifier. (Probably where the "African babies don't cry" rumor got started) But I may have been going overboard and created a bit of a problem that the American mother in me was not ready for. And it's not just that I'm earning a reputation as "that woman with her boob constantly hanging out."
When I greet Emmet in the morning or come into the room to join him playing with his toys, my enthusiastic "come to mama" smiles are met not with a beaming smile and outstretched arms, but with a whine and a bee-line for my busom. And since he's been sick, that bee-line has been occurring literally ever 20 minutes.
Dear Emmet: I want to cuddle, to play, to interact with you. Other people get this kind of attention from you. But with me, you mainly whimper and pull my shirt down. I want smiles of adoration instead of cries to suck on my body parts. I'm probably not going to be the last woman to tell you this, but "I'm more than just a nice rack, kid."
(Actually, I'm not even a nice rack. Proof: I've been asked by more than one Kenyan if he's actually "getting anything." You know.. because they're... ahem.. so small and everything. So, I guess I should be flattered by your attention. But, still I maintain.... there's more to me than just a substandard rack!)
Truth is, I love nursing the little man. I could do with less of him picking my nose and slapping my face during breastfeeding, but those times are mostly sweet and tender and I love that I can calm him so effortlessly. But every 20 minutes is just exhausting me. Those tender moments are becoming a burdensome drag.
Well, that was the case until one day this week when I put some cows milk in a sippy cup and gave it to him. (Why did it take me so long to do this?) He freakin' loved it! He walked around for 20 minutes holding that cup, periodically slurping the milk out and stumbling around with a milkstache like a drunk on a bender.
Then he came to me. Did NOT lift up my shirt, but gave me a hug and sat on my lap. WITHOUT lifting up my shirt. Did I mention he DID NOT LIFT UP MY SHIRT!!!
A few moments later, in his milk haze stupor, he took a tumble. Now, after a fall Emmet usually just goes straight to the boob for comfort. So, I took him on my lap and started to unbutton my sh.... Do you know what he did? He sat up straight and took a sip straight from that bottle he was still clinging to like a life raft. He comforted himself instead of falling into my breasts.
You'd think I'd feel a pang of resentment for that bit of plastic. That I'd feel replaced. But I felt relieved. He'll still nurse of course, but now there are other options as well.
Yesterday morning Colin let me sleep in for an hour. But when I woke and was handed the baby, for the first time in his life, he did not go straight for my breast. He circled around the room being cute. Being one. Turning in circles and playing with a flashlight he found on the floor. Laughing and falling down. And I laid there in a comfortable position, gazing at him, wondering at his independence and thinking about the budding toddler he is becoming. It seemed like a better balance for both of us.
I'm still nursing him, and I don't expect to stop anytime soon. But I AM looking forward to a relationship with my son that is not mediated so wholly by my mammaries. And I'm looking forward to him to growing into a little person who can find other ways of comforting himself, but still knowing that his mama (and Thing 1 and Thing 2) will be there if he needs it.
|Emmet and his new BFF. Moo milk.|