Like many readers here, I’ve done my breastfeeding research. I know that the health benefits are undeniable, the physical side effects at times exhausting, but the spiritual and emotional worth like no other. When I had my son, I settled immediately into the idea that I would be breastfeeding at all hours of the day and night, that it would not always be easy or fun, that I would have to constantly alter my schedule to fit my baby’s needs, but that it would be what’s best for my child.
What I couldn’t have known was how much I would love it. I found myself always either blissfully breastfeeding, or eagerly looking forward to the next time I would get to breastfeed my precious son. I became a woman obsessed, like an anxious little kid looking forward to a trip to the toy store every day. My husband took to calling me A-teet-a. I swear I nearly lost all my single and childless friends.
But if you haven’t breastfed your own child, held him at your bosom and watched the magic of life move from one body to another, then you just don’t understand.
And do you know what I don’t understand? Why you would ever want to stop. I have always been my own woman, and when it comes to parenting, I do not believe there are any hard fast rules we need to follow. Okay, maybe one: love your child as best you can.
When my son turned 1, many friends, and even my own mother, asked if I was planning to stop breastfeeding soon. I said, “Of course not!” When he turned 2, the same questions rolled around, and my same answer still applied–of course not. He turned 3, 4, 5, 6–I still felt the magic of breastfeeding, and I still felt no impulse to put an end to that feeling.
Sixteen years after the birth of my son, I still feel the same way.
I am now the mother of a brilliant, compassionate, creative, handsome, and loving sixteen-year-old. Unlike other teenagers, he is not angsty, does not slam the door to his bedroom and blast loud metal music, does not do drugs or drink alcohol, and does not disrespect his parents or grandparents in any way. I know I have no way of proving that this has anything to do with our daily breastfeeding ritual. But my gut instinct? Of course it does.
I am closer to my son than I could ever dream of being, and I know that we have, hands-down, the most amazing mother-son relationship I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve trusted my instincts all these years, and its rewarded me with exactly what I want.
So will I stop breastfeeding my son any time soon? When he goes to college? When he moves out of our house? We’ll see. Only time can tell.
UPDATE: Yes, as some of you guessed it, April Fools! Readers of this blog know that we really are all about breastfeeding, even extended breastfeeding, whenever possible, but sometimes you just have to get into the spirit of the day.