I have started the gradual process of weaning Norah; for now we are down to nursing only at night before bed.
It might seem a bit early -- she is only eight months -- but I have an experience with nursing that I have never heard anyone else express. I don't know if that is because there are few people who have my experience, or because mothers don't feel free to express these things, but in my experience, when I am BFing, there is a certain part of my mental function that is just gone. Parts of my brain that I just can't access. And it drains me emotionally so that if the baby wants to nurse all day, I can't stand to talk to or touch anyone else all day. Night weaning and decreasing the number of feedings seems to really be helping this -- now, I really enjoy the nursing as a sweet, mama + baby experience, and I can relax in the moment a bit more.
I feel like this is an unusual experience, at best, and I have to admit that I am jealous of moms who can stand to breastfeed their kids until they are 2, and who can successfully handle that much giving on a daily basis. I sometimes feel like there is something missing in me so that I just have less to give. Cutting back on nursing N makes me feel somewhat ungenerous from a certain perspective. It is hard to avoid the "if only" disease -- if only I could conjure more patience out of somewhere. If only I weren't so selfish. If only my brain didn't slow down a little bit more with every ounce of milk.
But then, I consider the changes in me since I began cutting back the nursing on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, I caught myself singing and dancing with N in the living room, for no particular reason. I held her up in the air and she stuck out her fat little arms and smiled a big, drooly grin with her two bottom teeth peeking out. I realized in that moment that I had not been doing much singing or dancing for several months before.
And I know with both my logic-brain and my emotion-brain that C has been getting the short end of the stick when I have been so worn out. All my energy goes into the baby and he gets what is left over, which is not much sometimes. And it seems like a three-year-old needs interaction even more than he needs food. So giving up a bit of my mother-earth fantasy in relation to N seems worth it for being able to rebuild a good interaction with C, whom I have sorely missed in these weeks/months that I have been exhausted and "away." Feeling the divide between my beautiful boy and myself has kept me up at night more than once; okay, more than a dozen times, and having more energy to give to him is a very exciting idea for me after so much worn-out parenting.
It has been hard coming face-to-face with my limits as a person and as a mother. I wish I could do it all. I can't do it all.
But I keep catching myself in unexpected joy. After B left for music practice on Sunday I was lying on the living room floor playing with the kids, my feet resting on a pile of books that C and I had read our way through a half hour before -- which I finally had the energy and patience to do. N was scooting across the floor in her way, like a tiny fat soldier, and C set his truck down on the couch and leapt on me like a lion cub. "Mama," he said, planting a kiss on my cheek. "You're my friend."