So I was pretty surprised to see this article on Mommyish from Erin Meyer, who says her mom nursed her for three years and she wishes she’d been weaned sooner. She says being nursed till age three left her feeling “confused” about breasts and without a “proper respect” for her mother’s body.
It’s not that I doubt Erin’s experience: it is hers, and only she is an expert on how she feels about breastfeeding and breasts. But I’m sure being nursed until into my third year of life did only good things for me. I’m proud and grateful I got to share that experience with my kids as well.
The normal age for child-led weaning tends to be around age 4, though there are outliers who want to breastfeed longer or shorter spells. In my world, nursing a three-year-old is completely normal. Many of the kids I’ve seen growing up in my social cohort have nursed for two to four years. My first daughter nursed until her fifth birthday, and only quit then because I refused to continue. All these kids are normal, healthy, well-adjusted young people.
How will they be as adults? I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t have any weird issues about breasts, mine or my mom’s. Remembering breastfeeding is just a precious memory, a touchstone of feeling safe and nurtured and held as a small kid. Kind of like the memory of my mom tenderly putting an entire box of band-aids on my legs after I fell into a cactus on my bike, or the feel of her hand on my back as she tucked me into bed at night.
There are many little pieces of childhood that created the feeling of being safe and loved, and that feeling still holds. It helps me feel good about the world and my place in it, and it also makes me closer to my mom.
In addition, remembering breastfeeding made it easier for me to nurse my own kids for years. I knew a little bit about what the experience was like for them, and I worked to make it work for us as they grew, and to keep showing up for it until they were ready to let go. I’m glad I was able to do that, in spite of breast infections, nipple pain and occasional bouts of thrush. I hope my girls, if they have kids, will be lucky enough to have great breastfeeding relationships with their kids.
Do you remember nursing with your mom? Are those memories special or creepy? What was it like for you?