Let Him Live His Life: A Weaning Story of Loss and Separation

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I’m on the brink of weaning and it feels that I am looking over a cliff into an abyss of darkness. Every time I nurse my son and he pushes me away to go play instead, I feel a sharp sting of loss and sadness. I know it’s only a matter of time before he’s done, and I do feel that I will be glad to be done too. For some time I have thought this actually, sensing our further separation as individuals and our bodies becoming our own. I am happy for the change, happy that I will have my body back and proud that he is becoming his own self, but first I will grieve.

In our relationship over my lifetime, I will inevitably experience many many instances of loss; when he no longer wants hugs, when goes to school, when he drives off in a car and then eventually leaves the house and gets married. A long life of loss and sadness? No, a long life of my son being independent and happy. I will have to get used to this kind of loss over and over as it is my intention to let my son live his life; to let him out into the world as much as he wishes. At 7 months, he pushed away the spoon so he could grab heaps of banana mush and put it in his own mouth. At 8 months, he began squirming out of my arms to go off and crawl far away and explore. At 9 months, he started pushing away my breast so he could find more interesting and new things. Now he will even leap from my arms to his dad and not look back. I could take this personally, I could imagine that he does not want his mom and wants everything else instead, but this is not true. The fact is that he is so secure in our relationship that he feels no fear that I will leave him; I am his strong foundation that he can always come back to. This is how it will always be in our life, my son running off and making mistakes and me always standing back and letting him, only to be there sure and steady just when he needs me. I know he loves me deeply when he is 100 feet away in a field and looks at me and waves, as if to say “hello mother, I am fine here, see?” I smile back and wave and feel pride for my adventurer. This is the same pride I want to feel as he strives to nourish himself without my body, yet I still take it so personally. I must be strong for him and let him make this choice, I will grieve when it is over yet be aware of our more evolved sense of closeness. Like when he holds so still nestled in my neck when I ask for a hug; today he grabbed my face, pulling my lips to his for a kiss. He seeks affection from me and I find relief and comfort in this. Perhaps with his old soul he is helping me to be brave and giving me the comfort I need in this transition, as it is clearly harder on me than him. As I initially felt fear of the loss, I now feel strength that he will help guide me into what will come next. Perhaps I’m not actually alone looking over this cliff, but we are there together, mother and son, learning from each other and growing and changing together, ready to brave the unknown.

Update on our weaning: ON a not so particularly special Thursday morning in early August, our breastfeeding days came to their end. My son latched on and ambivalently nursed on one side before switching to the other only to push me away the next moment and crawl off . It was actually not a sad or dramatic experience in any way. It was as if he decided that he was done and ready to move on. I offered a few times after that and he clearly lacked interest, and at this point if I offer he just blows rasberries on my chest and laughs. It had been such a gradual weaning process over weeks that my milk and hormones adjusted so easily and my son did not have any weaning trauma as he initiated the whole process. I am so glad to have my body and mind back again too, something that I had lovingly shared for almost 2 years was now all mine once again. Sometimes I do wish that I could still breastfeed him from time to time, but that phase is passed and we have so many more ways of bonding; I chase him around the room while he giggles madly and falls over, he always stops in for brief cuddle intermission before running off to play again and now he will finally let me rock him and snuggle while he drifts into sleepiness. These phases will also come to pass and be replaced with new joys, but for now I will remember every single day how special and fleeting our time is together.