Yesterday I met with a childless male friend to chat about books and as we sat by a playscape, so Annika could play, she asked to nurse. I told her no. Mostly because I simply didn’t want to flop my breast out in front of him. I stopped wearing nursing bras a while back. It’s not convenient. And plus, there’s the added discomfort of nursing a huge child who can’t even really be considered a toddler anymore, in front of a person who just doesn’t “get it.” During this exchange, I realized that I was finally feeling pretty okay about telling her no sometimes when she asks to nurse.
I’m sort of surprised that I’ve gotten to this point and haven’t turned into a lactivist. I am not opposed to women who want to make a dramatic statement by flaunting their nursing in public. I just don’t care enough to be all political about it. The truth is, I don’t give a shit about “normalizing” nursing. Okay, sure. Do I wish it was more normal? Yes. Do I pretty much hate the over sexualization of breasts in our culture? Damn straight I do.
I just don’t want to fight that fight. I have other shit to think about. Women have been nursing for all of eternity. If it ain’t normalized yet, it never will be.
I don’t look at breasts the same anymore. I can sit in front of a mom with both tits out, nursing her kid, and it doesn’t phase me one bit. I don’t see nipples as titillating objects. They are like a spoon, or fork. Utilitarian. In fact, when I do see breasts in a sexual manner, I sort of laugh, and think, “Hey, who put the nipple twisties on the milk jugs?” It’s a statement on our society about childhood loneliness. That’s what I think anyway.
But anyway, for a while now, when Annika asks to nurse in public, I’ve been telling her no sometimes, or, “not right now,” and then giving her a time when we can. But I’ve always felt vaguely worried that somehow I was damaging her by not giving her access to her main source of comfort.
She’s going to be 3 in a few weeks. I always thought that I’d nurse for up to three years. Then this past year, when I realized that I have one of those kids who adores nursing, I wondered if maybe I’d let her continue past the age of 3. After all, I’m not having any more kids. Once she’s done, my nursing days will be over for good.
But I think I’m finally ready to put the milk jugs away. She has learned other sources of comfort. She’s getting better about eating regular food. She even told me once recently that she just likes to nurse. And she also told me that most of the time when she asks, it’s just because she’s thirsty. It’s her favorite drink.