I'm a 32-year-old woman with an absentee husband and a toddler, and here's the thing: I never in a million years thought I would again have so much in common with the girlfriend of a hands-y 18-year-old fraternity pledge, but there you have it. The world works in mysterious ways.
So, until Odessa was 6 months old, the only thing she ate or drank was milk, and the place she got that milk was from me. It was convenient, cost effective and cuddly. Back when she was toothless and didn't have any opinions or hand-eye coordination, I would sometimes consider the day when I would stop nursing her, and a little part of the back of my brain would burst into tears and run out of the room.
In fact, back in the toothless days, I would think a lot about this movie I watched in a Women's Studies class in college called Breasts: A Documentary, wherein a bunch of topless ladies from the 1990's sit around in a studio and talk about how they feel about their boobs. I recalled a certain harried looking lady in her mid-30's with a 2 year old in a tie-dyed onesie nursing rather distractedly at her bosom. She looked so beaten down. At one point she said, "I love my baby, but I want my body back." Nine months ago I remembered that woman and thought, "what a wuss." Now, I'm all, "Amen, sister."
The difference between nursing an infant and nursing a toddler has something to do with the biting and something to do with the pulling my shirt up in public and some other thing to do with the fact that she stares at my chest all the time and chants "momomomomomomo," which I could choose to interpret as "mama," but I'm not fooled. She's saying "More more more more." I literally can't sit down with her in my lap anymore without her little chubby hand shooting up my shirt and her sweet, snaggletoothed little mouth grinning at me, droning "momomomomomo." I feel like an old timey soda machine and she's a cute little soda jerk with no personal boundaries.
A couple of weeks ago, when I went to Alaska, I knew I was going to be gone for a week, and wasn't sure the old milk supply would hold out. So before I left, I went into Odessa's room and woke her up to nurse her for what I thought might be the last time. And that was such a strange and sad feeling, because I've loved breastfeeding my little girl, and I'm so grateful that we've been able to do that for a whole year. But I came back from Alaska, and she was fine and was totally psyched to see my boobs. And somehow she had also developed the strength of a four mule team.
So, I'm not sure what to do. A friend of mine says she nursed so long that she actually remembers the sensation of breastfeeding (which means she nursed until she was at least 3). My mom cut me off on my first birthday ("Happy Birthday, Honeybunch!). My friend and I are both healthy and relatively well-adjusted people, so it's kind of up to me at this point. Odessa's going to be fine.
But boy is she going to be pissed the day I decide to close down ye olde soda shoppe.