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Monday, December 15, 2008

Weaning My Toddler, Weaning Myself

Today’s the day. Zeke and I are saying good-bye to amma. I think we mean it this time. I’m at my wit’s end.

Last night while he and Hattie were tandem nursing, his teeth began their usual descent into my nipple, at first irritating and then excruciating.

“Zekie, teeth!” He switched positions – but no relief. I got supremely disgruntled.

“Zekie, teeth, one more minute and then done.” I pop him off.

“Honey, this is crazy, why don’t you just stop having amma, okay? Tomorrow morning we can have a good-bye to amma party.”
“Okay” he says and seems fine with it.

“We’ll make a cake.” We fall asleep.

This morning when I refuse Zeke his transitional amma it becomes clear that he thought I was talking about an amma party last night. I can just imagine his dreams. Giant, milk-engorged breasts-fat dripping nipples just for him. An endless breast-feeding orgy with breaks for chocolate cake.

He tries to latch on anyway but makes it a joke. “Ammeenah” he says in his best baby voice. He’s not quite joking anymore but he doesn’t seem devastated when I say, “No.” I talk to him about his friends, Charlie and Riley and Derek who don’t have amma anymore. I explain how his classmates at School Around Us don’t nurse. How he is so lucky that he nursed longer than all his friends. Giving up amma makes him an even bigger boy. As I say all that, I don’t feel remotely sure that I am doing the right thing. Comparing and contrasting. Equating amma with being babyish. But of course being a Mom means always second-guessing yourself.


Making the cake is annoying. Instead of mixing the ingredients with love, I’m cranky. I want my coffee. I want more sleep. I want not to bake before 10am. And both kids insist on helping. When Michael finally sends me to the couch with my coffee, I am a mess. I try to concentrate on Sesame Street. It’s the episode where Big Bird’s nest has been destroyed by a hurricane. The metaphor is not lost on me.

I want to renege but it’s party time. Cake and candles. Michael frosts each piece with whipped cream from a can. He does beautiful little flower designs. We all keep saying “good-bye amma” while I choke back tears. Michael tells Zeke that he is glad for almost four years of amma. He says that it has made Zeke tall and strong and healthy.
I recount how Zekie latched right on in the birthing tub and never let go.

The cake is moist and chocolaty. Hattie Rose leads the bye, bye amma dance party. While I videotape them, I can’t help but notice how tall Zeke is. Another transition to the big boy. Already, I miss his almost four- year -old face becoming like that newborn as he takes my breast in his mouth. How he cups his hand around it so sweetly and looks supremely content. And I know I will miss The Power of the breast! I could lure him home from playgrounds and the children’s museum with the promise of amma and reading books on the big bed.

As bedtime approaches, I wonder if I can hold firm. I’m not sure if I can say good-bye to amma. I don’t know what else I can give him or do for him to make him that happy.

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