L will be 4 next week, but she's still my baby. She's still nursing, though not very much. Most days she only nurses once a day for a few minutes, and some days she doesn't nurse at all. I've been feeling conflicted about weaning her. On one hand, I've been nursing babies for 6.5 years straight, I'm tandem nursing for the second time, and my boobs are flat out tired. She's nursing so infrequently now, that I know she'd be ok with stopping. On the other hand, she's nursing so infrequently that I think it wouldn't really take much of my time or energy to continue.
I told her that her 4th birthday will be her weaning party as well. She seemed a little excited about that, saying she was a big girl and didn't need nursies anymore. But she still asks to nurse, and I know she feels special when I tell Z to share nursies, because L is still my baby too.
Tonight, L nursed to sleep in my lap on the couch. She was snuggled under the blanket, and she looked so small that E even asked "Is that Z or L?" when all she could see were wisps of blond hair poking out.
Nursing toddlers and preschoolers is a funny thing sometimes. With an infant, it's easy for me to remember that I am her only or at least primary source of nourishment. Even when she bites, or wants to nurse all day, or tries to turn around and look at all the things distracting her with my nipple still in her mouth, there is a strong connection between us that makes it all ok. With a 2 or 3 or 4 year old.... well, sometimes I want to rip my boobs off and throw them across the room. The need, because it's no longer primary physical, is easier to forget.
For the child though, it's such a strong source of comfort. It's the perfect act of unconditional love. It is her safe haven.
When I can slow down and tap into that, when I can allow myself to connect with what she is feeling, it's the most powerful bond in the world. I'm not a very naturally nurturing person. I actually have to work really hard to proactively bond with my kids. But in that moment of nursing her to sleep, feeling her breath on my skin and her heartbeat, seeing her little fingers run through her soft blond hair, it's perfect unity between us. Everything is understood, everything is peaceful, everything is right. It's simultaneously an incredibly nurturing and incredibly powerful feeling. Powerful, because the feeling of protectiveness becomes so strong that heaven help the person who ever dared hurt my baby.
I will miss nursing L. As right as it is, however, for her to have nursed as long as she has, it is also right that she now a take another step into growing bigger. I pray that the bitter sweet memories of weaning her stay with me, to remind me not to ever push her to grow faster than she is ready. She might not nurse for much longer, but she will always be my baby.