As I began weaning my eldest, I began to reflect on the concept of response and the importance it may play in parenting. Being a mother is a wonderful gift and I think that response plays an important role in nursing, feeding, and parenting children.
Weaning can be challenging—both the mother and the child realize how response plays a role in their relationship. I’ve found that reflecting on response as a concept was a beautiful strategy to help me wean my oldest during my pregnancy. I found that around the age my daughter was two years old, there are many other ways that you can respond to a child than by simply nursing them. Although common, it is known that toddlers may benefit from nursing dry, milk, or colostrum response can be a powerful tool in helping a child feel secure, loved, and can learn many new things in a baby-led way. There were times during weaning when I took some time to do different things on my own that had to do with recognizing an internal need I owned going for a walk or simply noticing with love, my daughter play with independence for longer and more engaging sessions that usual.
Were the responses always honest? And, how mothers and fathers respond with very unique qualities having to do with attention and care. What does honest really mean? And, if you think it about how we do not know yet, humans may have likely breastfed before they were able to communicate with words and the fact that a child does not yet know how to speak. There is a sense of sacredness in breastfeeding and also in honesty and possibly commitment. A mother and father do care, in different ways. A mother cares a bit with her body and perhaps and bit more with her heightened instinct by transferring her sense of security to her child through holding, loving and yearning. Fathers are very loyal to their children but keep their yearning for something else higher than perhaps the child. It is this lack of knowing that keeps the father’s response honest in the middle of the night or also when a child is fearful or perhaps even hurt or maybe sick.
I think when you as a mom notice that your child does need more responsive qualities in their caregivers in ways that are seperate than weaning this can become especially challenging and also lead to somewhat of a powerless feeling, almost a mild sense of hopelessness tied to a bit of faith in eternity.
Nursing changes me, and most other moms, physically. Also, I was extremely grateful that it gave me a growing sense of confidence, especially when my child was very young, very small and needed food and also immunity protection
I think needs become a sense of connection to yourself along with sometimes your relationship to others later on in life, for example how you feel loss or maybe a bit of grief. There are moments in your life when you can, amazingly easily put something on hold in order to delay gratification until you receive what you may really need later on. To me, this sense of connection to secureness may be related to how you nursed as a child, or maybe weaned. I believe as an IBCLC and also a mom, that how a mother weans can compensate for a the beauty but also the immense challenges a mother may initiates and maintains her nursing.
Blind faith was what it took me to wean and also at other pivotal moments in my life, if it is good or bad it doesn’t matter as long as you accept that maybe it is something that maybe you could just not do without. I think that essentially unattachment may begin at the beginning of the lifecycle but it is also something you can be in touch with throughout your life kind of like a little flickering candle in the wind. Sometimes you smell the smoke, sometimes you see the flame flicker and other times you just close your eyes and see the flame with a sense of grief that it will always be there. I hope that my daughter got what she needed from her mama milk or nursing experience.
It is every mother’s hope to hear the answer “yes, mama, I did,” when mothers ask that question of themselves. Yet when a child is too young to communicate in that manner, mothers and fathers and grandmothers and aunts may begin to answer that question for themselves instead of letting a child speak for themselves. With awareness, around this time, a voice popped into my head. Where did it come from? Was it wise? I did not truly know. To me it was my own voice in a future generation stating a mantra over and over again calling to me, whispering “just a reflex, just a reflex, just a reflex…” I began to think of reflexes, and wondered what are they there for? They are there to keep us safe, to keep us from choking, to keep our eyes from drying up, to prevent us from not being able to conceive of another child, to keep our heart pumping even as we approach starvation, and to show us how to eat and nurture another. Unattachment to our reflexes does facilitate any example of something that does relieve suffering because it is perhaps a bit of give and take with realizing their presence and also yet not needing them. I hoped to give my daughter unattachment by remembering the rooting reflex. The root seems to have a different quality associated with love more than all the other reflexes, yet it also teaches us our first lesson in unattachment through a pattern of remembering and forgetting. Eventually babies, children, adults and even older adults lessen their connection to the rooting reflex, yet at the same time remembering it helps us to feel safe, nurtured and loved. It is this memory that lasts a lifetime. The perhaps Buddhist concept that we can symbolically nurse for a lifetime is challenging to master and even understand. Yet the concept of honoring the mother through compassion affects us all, it affects humanity, and may be carried throughout future generations to come.