Armed with information.

“There’s no room for vacuum in life,

the minute it’s created, something regardless of how minute or ill fitting gravitates to occupy it.”

On the 15th of May 2018, the following question was discussed on the Wright Stuff; ‘Should breastfeeding be taught in schools’. According to the programme, the Royal college of Paediatrics has advocated for this line of action in response to the United Kingdoms low breastfeeding rates. My first reaction was to give this topic  a wide berth, however, certain events led to a rethink.

 One, I looked back at my first breastfeeding journey; to the reactions, advice and support I received from both family and friends. I remember my mother’s advice to feed  baby L1 some ‘pap’, a local pudding similar to custard. I recall her enthusiasm to support my desire to exclusively breastfeed for six months. I do not believe my mother breastfed any of her children for six months. However, she witnessed my sister and sister-in-law go through the process (EBF) and decided it was the best for babies. I also remember the text and Facebook  messages from BAMBIS in those first crucial six weeks post delivery. These varied inputs inoculated my senses against the need to abruptly switch to alternate baby foods. They formed the foundation for my second breastfeeding journey to thrive, which unlike my first has proved slightly challenging.

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Secondly, I recall a chat with a friend who just had a baby, and as we talked I realised the growing possibility of breastfeeding rates slipping down the slope in Nigeria. Should this occur it would partly be attributed to these factors:

  1. An increase in the number of working mothers especially first time mothers.
  2. A poor/ non-existent maternity leave policy.
  3. An influence from African/Nigerian women living abroad.
  4. A changing climate from a previous existing community lifestyle, where mothers often had an overflow of relatives at hand to help, to isolated lifestyles, where every helping hand is paid for and often not very reliable.
  5. A lack of information to help the modern day woman understand her body and baby in the changing social and economic climate.

The final push came by way of comments made in response to the question: ‘should breastfeeding be taught in schools?’. Many people were of the opinion that teaching breastfeeding at school would/could lead to the following: 

  • Deeply embarrassing moments for students.
  • Information overload.
  • Oversexualization of the students.
  • Pressurising of students to choose one method of feeding over another.

Under certain circumstances these opinions might be valid, however, I find them lacking authenticity based on the following:

  • Children are said to learn through play; every child  including those living in third world countries plays with a doll and feeding bottle at some point during  their childhood. This is slowly assimilated. Most children grow up without seeing anyone breastfeed, if they’re fortunate they would only ever encounter the topic for 10- 15 minutes at an antenatal class. At this point, the idea of the breast as an asexual organ with biologic function seems antiquated, like dinosaurs, a reminder of past barbaric practices. 
  • According to the government children will be taught safe and healthy relationship from the age of four. At this point I imagine it would be safe to let children know that as higher mammals we are also equipped to feed our young ones just like whales, dolphins and other animals do. From the age of 11, students will be taught sex and relationship education; which covers sexuality, sexual health and reproduction. The breasts I believe would be mentioned in these classes, I see no reason why one of it’s functions should not be discussed. 
  • We live in the era of patient centred care. A major aspect of PCC is arming patients with adequate information. Thus, teaching students about breastfeeding, making it an open discussion, should be considered an advantage and not pressure.

The only pressure an informed individual faces, is the courage to standby their choice.

To acknowledge the possibility that their options might not be the next persons ideal.

In my opinion, the drive to increase breastfeeding rates across the world, isn’t a drive to shame certain mothers, neither is it a drive to run businesses to a halt. It’s a drive to sustain our planet. We hope to reduce waste production, energy depletion etc, as a popular slogan says, ‘every little helps’, breastfeeding is one of such ‘little’ that would help achieve those goals in the long run. Arm yourself with the right information long before baby comes, seek help and support, drown out the noise and keep your babies health at the centre of all your choices.

 

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Start at the alphabets

Care to join me on a little stroll? Take a look at my garden, feast your eyes on my tree, what pray ye lays siege to your mind?

Birth,

Toddler, Teenager, 

Self-image, Self-awareness, Self-acceptance

Love, Hope, Faith, Relationships, Career, Religion, Family

Marriage, Parenting, Motherhood, Fatherhood, Breastfeeding,  Social class,

Formula feeding, Mortgage, Rent, Passion, Hobbies, Diet, Health

Conventional, Death, After-life, Assets, Liability

Unorthodox, Friendship, Community,

Intellect,

Fashion,

Beauty,

Alp ha bets ma keup wo rds, ne ver for get y our ro ots; they are valuable, the y are par tof whoy ou are, no matter how bitter.

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Take another step my darling, sit by me, let’s take a look at some other words:

  • Construe:

to understand the meaning, especially of other people’s actions and statements, in a particular way.

to understand the meaning of something in a particular way.

  • Abrupt:

sudden and unexpected, and often unpleasant.

using too few words when talking, in a way that seems rude and unfriendly.

  • Grandiloquent:

A grandiloquent style or way of using language is complicated in order to attract admiration and attention, especially in order to make someone or something seem important.

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Now pick a word from the tree, a word that makes you  either very comfortable or very uncomfortable. Why does the word make you feel that way? When you see people acting out that word, how do you feel? Does your interpretation of the word affect how you perceive another’s behaviour?

When you engage in a discussion about the word does it end abruptly, do you find your self acting abrupt? Or is the reverse the case? Do you feel the need to bedazzle or confuse your audience by using highfaluting words?

Life is simple, we complicate it when we refuse to pull away the layers over an issue. For example, motherhood, this is one word with multiple offspring, often individuals tend to judge the entire topic by looking at one of her offspring. While it is possible for several issues to serve as an indication of the overall picture, it is still better to stick to one topic/issue/offspring at a time and then taking an average estimate.

If it cannot be simplified then perhaps it is not a basic need for living a content life. Even quadratic equations can be simplified, and when it seems impossible, it is often due to a faulty premise.

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Finally turn left and exit the garden: 

Don’t forget where we started, at the alphabets. Everyone has an opinion and like the slabs on the footpath through the garden, we must learn to see those opinions as man made boundaries hedging off wandering roots. Keeping tentacle plants from over growing the garden. For whilst the plants might be beautiful in themselves, but when left unmanaged have a way of looking less appealing with every struggle to walk though them.

It’s important to remember that if we do not like the path created by the slabs we can always push them aside by growing strong roots. Don’t forget even bitter roots can still be beneficial.

Stick to one issue at every given time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cry me a river

Act one, Scene one:

This scene begins at the arts and craft shop which we shall refer to as the Hob.

Toddler: mummy can I have the bunny rabbit hat?

Mother: hmmm, let me see how …

Toddler: it’s pink mummy, I like pink. Pink is my favourite colour.

Examining the said hat for worthiness of purchase, mother concedes the purchase.

Mother: I know love, well I guess you can have it, it’s not expensive.

Toddler: Thank you mummy, can I hold it?

Mother: sure.

Walking round the shop with toddler, said hat and baby pram. Mother and crew approach an aisle filled with an array of crafts material designed to keep mother and child busy. 

Toddler: mummy can I have these stickers?

Mummy: no love, you have some at home already.

Toddler: but it has lots of pink.

Mother: silently wishes for a wand to obliterate the colour pink. “Does it?”

Toddler: Yes mummy.

Mother: hmmm, how about this colouring kit? Look it has pink and purple!

Toddler: I don’t like that one, I want the sticker mummy.

Mother: I can’t get the sticker you won’t do much with it, come on chose one of these, I promise it will be fun.

Toddler accepts the offer because her favourite colours are there.

This scene ends on a positive note as mother and crew leave the shop after having spotted another sticker for half the price of the previously spotted one. Toddler is also very happy as people compliment her on her new bunny hat.

Act one scene two:

This scene takes place in a new shop, we shall refer to this shop as Ten-x.

Toddler: mummy can I have the pink top

Mummy: let me see…. hmmm it’s nice love but it’s not your size.

Toddler strolls away towards another rack.

Toddler: mummy! squealing with excitement. Mummy come, come and see this one.

Mother approaches toddler with a wary smile, knowing it would be another pink item.

Toddler: it’s a flutter shine top and it’s PINK!!

Mother smiles, looks at the price tag.

Mummy: sweetheart we can’t get this today, mummy will get it later for you when it’s on sales.

Toddler: no mummy I want this  one, let’s buy it now.

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And thus, the bright warlord known to you and I as the colour pink sets the stage for a good meltdown. Riding on  its noble pony Flutter shine, pink sets to war, tuning up the toddler’s emotions, making the mothers effort to soothe or correct the toddler futile. Toddler cries till they leave the shop, mother works hard to stay cool and collected while wiping nasal gulp intermittently. Baby wakes up stirring up with confused eyes at his big sister. Passers-by send pitying looks at the half wailing, half distressed crew of three. 

Mother and crew approach the bus stop

Toddler: mummy I have finished crying now.

Mummy: totally surprised by toddlers calm declaration, pauses mid-stride. She is surprised by the following:

  1. the realisation, that perhaps on some level the toddler was aware that they were crying for the wrong reasons.
  2. her ability to stay calm and watch the vibrant display by the pink warrior and her noble steed .
  3. her ability and that of the toddler to push the sudden disaster into the recess of their mind, going on to enjoy a nice day in the sun.

Moral of the story: sometimes a good cry is all we need to rid our hearts and minds of life’s disappoint. Even when we know that our desires aren’t realistic, it’s still okay to mourn the loss of that dream/ that expectation/that hope. However, it’s not okay to live in the land of lost dreams.

Act two, scene one

Mother and toddler walk past said top in the shop again.

Toddler: mummy see! It’s the flutter shine top

Mother, slightly apprehensive.

Toddler: you’ll buy it for me later. 

Walks on. Mother breathes out slowly.

Mother prays for the toddler, that her hopes and dreams in life never suffer death. That she will never regret the act of delayed gratification. That toddler will never doubt her love for her.

The end.

 

Woman where art thou?

I remember lying down flat on the red dusty gravel filled soil in front of my secondary school dormitory, I remember wondering what did I ever do to deserve this?

I remember the demands of a ‘senior girl’ that I fill her cup with beverages from my provision; I remember being sent to kneel down for an hour under the scorching sun for not obliging the request.

I remember feeling out of place for being a girl, sometimes enjoying its benefits, other times absolutely abhorring its natural calls.

I remember crying my eyes out as they teased me for having a boyfriend in junior secondary school, I remember smiling as an undergraduate after a date.

I remember smiling at my aunt’s kids, thinking how much fun it would be to have a baby, I remember looking at my daughter at four months and wondering if I could ship her to my mum for a while.

I remember sitting at home pregnant with my daughter wishing the four walls each played one of my favourite movies or served as portals to my favourite places. I remember catching a forty-five-minute bus each way to school and back, going to work when I could while logging around my ever growing tummy.

I remember feeling content with speaking to dear ones through social media thankful the drama of sharing personal space was cut out, I remember wishing I had my mom with me in the labour room.

I remember that through all these times I have always felt that I had no choice but to be strong.

I remember feeling the need to make sure my burden hung squarely on my shoulder and on no other. I remember wishing I could become a child again.

This is my personal journey and most of it has been my choice, while others have been thrust on me my circumstances. It’s interesting to see a come thread running through my journey, a myth that I have come to believe at an early age; the myth that every real woman is strong, able to shoulder every challenge. I absolutely scoffed at women/girls who cried so easily, women/girls who worked their wiles on others to get their way. I especially find it hard to cajole people, a trait that makes me a poor salesperson except when on a mission. And after many years of being me ‘the way I wanted’, motherhood has shaped me into someone who has to embrace every facet of herself.

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I have learned to cry simply to relieve my tension, to not feeling worried that others might see me as weak or manipulative, because if they feel that way perhaps they feel guilty for not doing enough.
I am learning how to make both impromptu and well thought out decision through checklists.
I am learning to refine my communication skills, realising that patience is very important to the process.
I am adapting to the possibility that living day by day does not make my life less impactful than having high powered dreams/goals. I am accepting that it might be slow but it is not meaningless.

As I read the three waves of the feminist movement I can’t help wondering what the main goal of each wave was, I find myself coming back to the word choice. Without choices, life would probably be crippling, both mentally and physically. Everyone wants the right of way on the narrow streets of life. Sadly this is not possible, thus the need for rules and laws, but if the law gives right of way to Mercedes or Nissan brands only hasn’t it failed in being equitable? This is perhaps why road signs/instructions address car dimensions and potential and not brands.

Humans much like cars come in different dimensions, and varying horse powers regardless of similar dimensions. I don’t know much about cars but I assume it would be unrealistic to expect all cars with a 2.0 engine to perform exactly the same way. There are several factors which would impact on its performance including brand, model, driver, country of use, other components etc. All these factors determine the pricing of these cars. Women(men) are in the same way similar and it’s my belief that what most women want is to be treated in ways that respect their individuality, giving them room to accomplish their dreams.

Whether in their personal or professional lives women want to have the right to progress in any direction. They don’t expect rules to favour Mercedes above Nissan, rather they want rules that keep everyone safe on the road. Choice …. choice. Sadly this idea offends many, for a choice in the corporate world might ultimately cement the place of choices in the community. It is as though the world prefers to confer rights on a maladjusted man rather than any woman. Sometimes a Childs’ choice seems more valued than a woman, we rather prefer that which might be seen as frivolous than one which requires thoughtful and considerate engagement.

Man(woman) goes to work and has his(her) thoughts, ideas, dreams, confidence, and person evaluated, probed; he(she) has his choices weighed and placed before him(her) on a daily bases. They return home hoping to have those choices affirmed and supported on a daily bases. This expectation is the bane of many modern homes, the somewhat unrealistic expectation that every choice we make will be the same with our partners.

We have taught our sons the act of having the final say, of laying down the rules, of taking charge without knowing what they are actually in charge of. We have taught our daughters the perfect timing for the first word, the perfect sequence for following instructions, the act of supporting missions without teaching them how to spot impossible missions. 20180106_174851

We failed to teach both how to construct the middle bit of the conversation, how to get to build up to an amicable conclusion. We have taught them to imagine a beautiful end but equipped them for a bloody battle of wits, choices, manipulative skills and little about integrity in the confines of a small room with an audience of one. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Where are your choices taking you? What sort of woman are you becoming?

Your tears are not your shame
Your scars are no regrets
Your strength is not in words
Your weakness is not in silence
defined by a moment you are not
shaped by moments you will be
live those moments truly and wholly.

Choices come at a price but certainly not the price of being superhuman. Society has equated a woman who wants the same privilege for the same role/responsibility as a woman who wants to be a man. Should choices take away from our masculinity or femininity? If my husband asks for help lifting heavy items does that make him less masculine or me less feminine? Earning more or less, exploring my potential doesn’t change my gender or does it? Or should it.? How I chose to display my feminine side is subject to me, some people will earn more income and undergo personality changes, others won’t, should this be the bases for rules?

In my opinion, the only feminine movement that counts is that which protects the individual woman, giving her room to grow and blossom. To explore her choices, curbing them only when they mitigate harmfully against another. They say we are our own worst enemies and it is true. When last did you complement, support or encourage another woman?

There is a universal truth: we can’t have it all, however, there is another truth: we always have something to add, to own.

What’s your choice worth?

Twice beaten, twice shy.

As a mom, there are moments that take your breathe away, moments that leave you feeling vulnerable, moments when you dread the steps you have to take. Last Saturday I faced one of those ‘moments’, there wasn’t anything exceptional about my circumstances, however, it was:

  1. My first major outing with the little people without my husband to entertain the toddler.
  2. First time out and about on the bus since the baby.
  3. Our first feed in public without the car for privacy.
  4. My first time shouldering a sleeping toddler while feeding a baby in public.

I guess you’re wondering why this is even worth mentioning, I will try to explain. Getting myself ready isn’t much of a problem on a good day, but now I have to remember to put breast pads on to avoid a breastmilk map soaking through my outfit. And believe me, I have come close to forgetting them several times. Secondly I have to get my little girl ready, again this is not a huge task. I have to ensure she goes to the bathroom at least five or ten minutes to leaving the door, to avoid a ‘wee’ dance on the bus. Then I have to pack snack and drink options, for the journey back home when she’s bored and exhausted, but fighting sleep or relaxation with a scary determination. This all pales in the light of getting baby ready and convincing myself it’s safe to go out.

Our checklist for him looks something like this;

  • pack baby bag
  • feed and burp baby (this  can take an unimaginable turn at any point)
  • change nappy
  • dress baby
  • set pram up ready to go ‘cos if he starts feeling too warm in there his alarm bells go off … leaving everyone feeling slightly frazzled. This actually happened a week before, he protested so loudly, his sister and I had to abandon our usual weekend stroll. We were both disappointed, thankfully though the day was rescued by a game of bubbles in the garden. It was freezing and the bubbles nestled in the grass l rather than sailing off in the wind. Regardless, we had some outdoor fun during the frigid December weather. Back to the checklist…
  • Finally run out of the house, hoping toddler does not need another visit to the loo.

Yipppeeeee! Out and about we goooooooooo!

Amazingly we had a lovely time in town, baby didn’t cry and toddler L was happy to have a day out on the bus again. I did forget to take drinks and snacks so I had to make it up to her by getting this 

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Now about that dreaded moment; having been out for two hours I knew the baby would need a feed soon. Faced with dropping temperatures and dark clouds, I had two options one, sit in a shop and feed him while my toddler gets bored and night time draws closer. Or two, get on the bus, feed him whenever he wakes up while getting closer to home. I decided to go with the second option, we made it through the first ten minutes before baby L woke up demanding a feed at the top of his lungs. For some unknown reason, I got nervous. 

You would think that having fed my daughter for fourteen months this won’t be an issue. I had fed her on the bus, in the park, in town, on a flight, at playgroups etc All that experience didn’t make any difference in that moment. Having her asleep on my shoulder added to my state of unrest, but it also reassured me that I had made the right choice to get on the bus. More importantly, it served to remind me that my children’s comfort always comes first before anything else. I fed baby, pillowed my daughters head on my shoulder, managed a chat with family friends (who we bumped into on the bus)and a lady on the opposite aisle who dropped her glasses, all the while maintaining my composure.

Yes, this girl can!

I did take a picture, but sadly it wasn’t a good angle. 

I almost didn’t take them out, there were so many excuses; the weather, baby’s age, managing both kids without the car, etc. I did it though and I learned something from it, take a risk, but always weigh the factors. For example, I made sure to pick a day with the best weather outlook, I also set out with an objective(s) no matter how small or simple. I wanted to break the mold, to take the children out even when the conditions weren’t stellar. I also wanted to get back to taking my toodler out and also return items to the store. Sometimes comfort zones prevent us from appreciating our basic strengths and ability to make good judgement calls.

Trust yourself, trust God in 2018.

 

 

So this happened …..

I have been off my blog for a while now and have sorely missed my blogging family and friends. I hope the poems and photo explain why i have been off for a while.

Poems for my babies reflecting our breastfeeding journey:

May:
I’ve a riddle
A riddle indeed,
I am a place, a source
A season, a platform
for nature’s new forage.
What am I?
I stretch, I wiggle
bouncing off the board,
in leaps with a giggle.
What keeps you so, pray tell?
You ask,
I will tell you,
It’s neither boiled nor cooled
Neither filtered nor bottled
Perfectly fresh
On time each time
Mama’s liquid gold
All for me
Fresh as due on springs first morn.

October:
The halo is here
There’s nowhere to hide
Racing orbs of orange
Course through the streets,
Chasing fallen leaves and pumpkin shrines.
What’s this I see?
Tiny feet trailing
down the trick or treat path
I pray the heavens guide
them far from the headless horseman.
The halo’s here
But it won’t find me alone
I snuggle deeper into mama’s bosom
Safe from harm
Phantom or Hyde.

November:
A splash of colours
Green for the elf
Orange for the gnome
Brown for Rudolf’s calf,
And red for the squires home.
Something reminiscent of seasons gone,
A shiny memento for winters gloom.
And what pray ye shall a wee lad have
Something warm,
Something steadfast
A gourmet of nature’s finest
Mama’s milky cuddles
Ample burping shoulders
To shield me through the cold.

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Pride of breastfeeding

A certain pride beats beneath my chest,

like a child riding her bike through the fields

I feel a surge of accomplishment.

As the sound of cheering from family/friend or observers spurs the child on, so is the silence of a suckling babe and the swelling of rosy cheeks against my bosom.

It’s not a contentious pride that comes from outsmarting an opponent, nor the sort that comes from defying a bully.

No.

It’s a pride seated in overcoming one’s own fears, of attaining something we desired, but also feared we couldn’t reach.

Like a child playing my keyboard at the school recital, I have no desire to mock others who can’t play, or choose not to play the keyboard, nor those who play a different tune. I am simply lost in the symphony of my artistry.

Please forgive me if I play out of synch or sing a little too loud; I do not mean to cause offense. I am simply excited to have attained my breastfeeding goals.

Happy breastfeeding week!

One placenta – two people.

One bosom – two people.

Initiated by nature – sustained by a triangle (mother, child, and life).

 

 

Happy new month.

HAPPY NEW MONTHS FOLKS.

I know I havn’t been around a lot, life happened and that’s all I can say.

I have missed you guys but will do my best to read your blogs as often as possible.

Below are a couple of quotes that I hope to draw inspiration from through this month.

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This one isn’t optional, I love my rest.

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Same thoughts as above, if Rome wasn’t built in a day then ….

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Every dog will have it’s day and that’s for certain. The only problem is making sure the dog hasn’t lost hope of that day ever happening.

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One step at time, one step at a time…. am climbing my mountains with Jesus by my side.(who watched kids praise?)

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And this is to remind me that my little girl is the most precious person I will ever be privileged to impact any ‘life lessons’ to too.

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Failure to launch; independent children

Failure to launch is a funny movie; Matthew McConaughey plays the lead role of a thirty-five-year-old bachelor who still lives at home with his parents and has no plans of moving out. On the surface the story seems rather straightforward, he’s simply grown cold feet to the idea of living by himself. His friends Ace and Demo are no help either as they both live with their parents at home or so it seems on the surface. Present society frowns a lot at such activities, i.e the idea of a grown adult still ‘living off his parents’. It is seen as the movie is aptly titled a ‘failure of the individual to launch’, a failure of his/her parents to nudge them in the right direction. To snip the apron strings.

We are a very independent generation, we want to spread our wings as far as possible, we want to mount the highest peaks without any aid. Parents are coerced to encourage their offspring to stand on their own two feet as soon as possible literally and figuratively. Teachers, health workers, doctors are encouraged to ask children questions that encourage independence, questions which often lead to a certain desired answer. Parents are encouraged to have sleep routines, codes of behavior and learning objectives for each child. It’s no wonder extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping are frowned upon by a lot of people.

Being independent isn’t the absence of weakness or a presence of stable strength.  Being independent is having the ability to shoulder the level of responsibility appropriate for an individual’s mental and physical state per time. Individuals often aren’t aware of what they can handle which is why life steps in to throw challenges at us. For children, parents are often the tools used to point out these milestones, however, learning or surmounting these milestones must be done by the child with or without the assistance of the parent. How does this relate to extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping?

Let’s go back to the movie, Tripp (the character played by Matthew McConaughey) lives at home with his parents as a result of his fiancees’ death.  He sought solace in the one place he knew he would find it, a move born out of a need. Living at home with his parents was not a problem of any sort at first. Going by his mother’s account, his presence pushed the fear of facing an empty nest with her husband into the distance future. However, at some point his presence did become a strain for them not a bad unbearable strain, rather a strain they could do without if it could be managed in a loving way that left everyone feeling happy. Sadly, in real life we have limited options either to let the process run its cause or we rudely interrupt or we intervene in the most gentle manner we can, ready to soothe ruffled feathers through the process.

This is the same with the case of extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping, no one except mother and child should decide when the process has run its due cause. It is not about nutrition as breast milk regardless of age maintains its nutritional value. It is not about independence as no child is self-sufficient at the age in question. Taking into consideration the definition of independence given in the previous paragraph one might be tempted to conclude that extended breastfeeding might hinder a child’s growth. This ideology, however, would be considered unfounded by several studies which have associated high levels of independence in children who experience constant loving and appropriate physical contact with their care givers/ parents.

There are no universal rules or manuals about parenting that fits every situation and life divide. Being independent is very important, a vital component for a balanced adult but we must be careful to help our little ones attain that height without feeling smothered or abandoned. As with everything in the life of your child, you only learn what they need or don’t need by paying attention to them and to your intuition. There is no shame in extended breastfeeding or in stopping at any point, there is, however, a sense of betrayal when your needs or your child’s need are buried under society’s acceptance or any other obligation. Don’t aggressively start the nudge for independence (fashion,mental, diet, health) or ignore the cues of independence either.  

Parenting is the toughest job in the world, but your children will teach you the skills you need provided you don’t juxtapose your desires over them or interpret their needs subjective to your feelings.

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