Last night, I ended one of the most beautiful relationships I will ever have in my life as a mother. It was time for RockStar to say goodbye to the boo.
He hadn’t asked to nurse for 5 days. Prior to that, he skipped a few days. My body has already begun the process of shutting down its milk production. I’m familiar with the discomfort, having gone through it with L at 26 months and K at 16 months. My breasts ache. My emotions are a mess. My body and heart plainly telling me “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want this time to end.”
And yet I do.
I want to move on to more sophisticated ways of handling his tantrums and calming his overwhelm. I look forward to getting my body back, to taking back that territory I’ve so freely given for so long, since 5 minutes after pushing him out of my body.
And this is the last baby I will have, so this is really the end.
I boxed up my emotions and sat with him, and we talked about this big step, to end our nursing time. And he said that he is ready, even though I can see a sadness in his eyes. I remind him that when he wants to be close to me, we can snuggle and tickle. That we have other ways of being close. I tell him he can have a sippy cup of milk while I hold him in my arms, and he thinks about this. He is quiet. He says OK, and then he goes back to his toys.
It’s over. I spend the next hour trying not to cry. I try, and fail, to make dinner. I talk about weaning RockStar with my neighbor, who came downstairs to visit for a few minutes. And as I’m trying not to cry into the sweet potatoes, she hugs me and reminds me that my own feelings are also important. That maybe I need some closure, some ceremony around this. That just … stopping doesn’t seem like it’s going to be enough for me.
And she’s right. She is so right.
After she leaves, I sob into Allen’s shoulder and relay our conversation. And he agrees. We decide to do this right. Weaning is a big step for all of us, not just for RockStar. So Allen runs to the store with the oldest daughter for some supplies. And when he returns, I take my little boy into my arms and ask him if he’d like to spend some close time with just me, having some last time with the boo. He agrees happily.
We go quietly into my room, and all noise, all distractions melt away. I know it’s because Allen is talking to the girls. That they are shutting down the distractions, turning off My Little Pony, being thoughtful, and I feel so lucky to be a part of this family.
RockStar climbs onto my lap as I get comfortable on the bed, propped up by a half-dozen pillows. The lights are off, only the holiday lights around the window softly light the room. And as he nurses, he is petting my breast, and looking into my eyes. He changes sides, and I talk about what a beautiful time this has been. I thank him for being born, for nursing with me for so long. And we finish, and he kisses the boo, and he says “Goodbye, boo!”
My tears are still there, but it’s OK. This is the ritual I needed. I needed to do this once more, to make it matter, to make this memory.
I carry him out of the room, and our family greets us with “Hooray!” in the dining room. And my 3 kids and wonderful husband sit down to a delicious dinner of ice cream sundaes, and talk about this big step we’ve all taken in the life of our family. I get extra whipped cream and chocolate syrup on my mocha ice cream, and K gives me 2 cherries on top!
The celebration goes on for too long, and we finally get all 3 sugar-crazed kids to bed. I decide to put myself to bed too, because I’m exhausted from the emotion, from the boundless happiness and the aching sadness, worn down to a nub. I fall asleep with tears in my eyes and on my pillow. I know I will always miss that closeness I enjoyed with my babies. I will miss it to my dying day.
Thank you, RockStar. For almost 4 years of nursing. And thank you to all my amazing family and friends, who cheered me on and supported me along the way.