Our mattress hit the floor when my first son, Jack, was about 9 months old. Our journey toward bedsharing mirrored our overall journey as parents toward what is popularly referred to as Attachment Parenting. We struggled with just about every decision during those early months. We were fed misinformation from supposed trusted sources, we were confused and felt alone.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but that turned out to be the biggest struggle of my life. I fought tooth and nail every moment of every day and was able to be successful. So once Jack and I had an established breastfeeding relationship I just couldn’t see how I would wean him because of some arbitrary date. I wanted breastfeeding to continue to be a source of safety, security and attachment for him for as long as he needed it.
And yet again, we found ourselves parenting against the grain.
After going through countless variations of co-sleeping we finally decided that we would put our bedframe in storage and place the mattress on the floor so that we could share a sleep space with our child without having to worry about him falling out of the bed. When my second son, Exley, arrived we were a full on proud bedsharing family. So a twin mattress was pushed up against the queen and we had a massively beautiful family bed.
Now Jack is 5 years old and Exley is 2 years old. I recently told my husband that I thought we were ready to put our beds back on their frames. I felt excited. It felt like a new phase was starting where our kids were becoming a less fragile. It seemed to symbolize that we were starting to come out of that Baby Blur. I started to imagine nightstands with little reading lamps, a fancy comforter and someday a bed for just my husband and me.
And then I felt sad too. How did this happen? Just one day things are different now? I have no babies anymore? What would this next phase bring? What other changes are coming? Am I ready? Are my kids ready?
I don’t believe that my kids are anywhere near sleeping in their own beds. (They don’t even have their own beds yet!) But it made me stop and reflect on my current life. I noticed that the cloth diaper drawer hardly ever gets used anymore. The baby swing was put in storage. The carriers get used less and less. I gave away my Moby, the bassinette and the baby clothes. I have parted with just about everything that would signal there is a small baby here. Because there is no small baby here.
But do you know what struck me the most? The kicker of this whole story?
Both of my kids still breastfeed.
We have gone through endless transitions in this family. We have barely had 1 whole month of consistency in 5 years. But breastfeeding goes on. Breastfeeding itself has evolved in more ways than mammals themselves, but it is still a major part of our lives.
Breastfeeding is not contingent upon any life circumstance, any date or developmental milestone. Breastfeeding is a relationship, a coping skill, a part of the very fabric of a human’s life experience. It does not end just because a child learns to walk or talk. It does not end just because mom or child celebrated a certain birthday. It does not end when the beds get put back on the frames. It’s a normal part of our children’s experience as young people and it will end when they are ready for it to end.
We do not need to stop our children from breastfeeding. We will not have a 14-year-old suckling from our teet if we don’t put a stop to this madness. Our 18-year-olds will not be sleeping in our beds if we don’t kick them out soon. If you want to end any of these things at any time that’s totally cool, but don’t ever believe any bullshit that what you are doing is not natural, weird, gross or leading to some future problem. It’s normal and you are doing great.
Things change fast when you have tiny ones. For every moment of torture that seems to last an eternity there are a million others that zip by without is even noticing. Until one day you put your bed on a bedframe and your 5-year-old in jeans walks into the room and asks how the planets were formed. But then later he snuggles in next to you to nurse to sleep just as he always has. And you realize all the changes aren’t that big after all.