I met her son for the first time, a sweet little boy with gorgeously curly hair, bright chubby cheeks, and a complexion the color of coffee milk. He spent the afternoon being a toddler – building blocks and knocking them down, taking Thalia’s little ride-on train for a spin, climbing on the coffee table, hurling golf balls that Nate brilliantly leaves around the living room, and then crawling into my friend’s lap with a simple request:
At which point she hoisted up her shirt and stuck one in his mouth.
“Oh…” I stammered. “Um, wow. I mean…forgive me. I just don’t really know anyone who’s still nursing a two year old.”
“Oh sure,” she replied proudly. “In fact he’s still 95% breast fed!”
I wasn’t sure what the other 5% could have been. Cow’s milk? Formula? Hi-C? And so I asked.
“Food,” she answered matter-of-factly. “Yep. He’s not too interested in food. He’s my little boobie baby. Aren’t you, Sweetie…”
[suck suck suck]
I’m not sure how I responded at this point. For I was entirely freaked out.
When I hear about extended breastfeeding, it sounds reasonable. Beautiful even. But to witness it first hand…
freaked out. Entirely.
Now before you go and flame my comments, calling me Barbara Walters and suggesting I go take a flying leap off a Delta Airline 727 mid-flight, save it. I’m writing a good deal of this post with one hand as I nurse my baby (so please forgive any typos). And to do so, I just survived 10 days of fierce pain, the likes of which would have had even POW survivors pleading for mercy and switching to Enfamil. Think a slow, anesthetic-free nipple piercing performed by a crackhead with a rusty needle and you’ve pretty much got a sense of what I went through in order to give my daughter the first hundred and fifty or so meals of her life.
In other words, I’m all for breastfeeding. Or at least for those who care to do so. And I’m all for not breastfeeding for those who, for whatever reason, can’t. This is not a breast versus formula debate; and may I add that anyone who tries to make it one is an ass. This is just me, trying to figure out why I was so freaked out (entirely) by a two year-old running up to his mom at snack time and ordering a boobie with a side of absolutely nothing.
Thalia, if you’re curious, just had the Pirate’s Booty. She was okay with that.
Maybe my issues stem from the degree to which my friend was dedicated (dedicated? devoted? insane?) to it – 95% breastfed isn’t the same as oh he still nurses to sleep at night while we share a quiet moment. I mean, I watched as that boy flung himself onto her breasts in the broad daylight of my living room. That’s pretty darn committed.
Or maybe it’s just some 21st century American notion that’s inextricably bored into my being, that says that nursing is something we do for babies. You know…because they can’t eat food yet.
In any case, it shouldn’t matter. My friend’s son is healthy, strong and smart. He’s bilingual. He’s musical. He’s athletic. And he’s clearly doted on by both parents. In other words, her choices don’t seem to be hurting him. Isn’t that really what’s important? Yes, says my head. But ew, still says my gut.
I didn’t engage her on the vaccination question, but something tells me we differ there too. Especially when she waved off an aside I made about going the pediatrician’s office.
“Oh no no no,” she said. “Pediatricians…we don’t do that.”
Mea culpa, my old friend. I know we’re different kinds of parents. Really different. So I’m working through this. Because I want that to be okay.