It’s not exactly veni, vidi, vici, but it will have to do.
My daughter “Pringles” is two. I let her have “nummies” on demand for the first 17 months, then preschool happened. I went back to work. I let her attack me as soon as we got home, ripping at my shirt and intoning “Take off, Mommy. Take off.” Last year, my teaching life was so thankless and miserable, I don’t know how I got through it. Seeing my kids at the end of my day was a relief, but nursing ceased to be.
Lately, Pringles is happy to climb in my bed, latch onto me like I’m a pacifier, and do “Boobie Gymnastics” all night long. She bends, she flips, she twiddles. She latches off to talk, back on, off again. The result has been terrible sleep for me. It was one thing when I had the summer off, but now that I’m back at work (with only one period out of five giving me nightmares) I cannot deal. I’m the walking dead. I resent her. I’m pretty sure extended breastfeeding activists Dr. Sears and Dr. Gordon would put “I resent her” at the top of the “How to know when to stop nursing” list.
Weaning has been postponed twice due to illness. Also on the “how to know when to stop weaning list” is “don’t start when the child is ill.” I’m in it full-swing now. No going back. When Pringles stops nursing, I will be done breastfeeding for the rest of my life. Mixed feelings. My breasts can go back to being entertainment for Odie instead of the kids. He is certainly looking forward to that. He’s patiently endured four years of smacked-away hands and “Like I really need another person grabbing my tits right now” admonishments.
Even though I was promised by numerous women’s magazines that breastfeeding would make the baby weight “melt off,” it did no such thing. In fact the opposite. When I gave up nursing Viva, she was 22 months. I was five months pregnant with Pringles and I still dropped ten pounds practically overnight when I gave up nursing. My body holds on to that extra weight as Nature intended. I consider myself an evolutionary champion in this way.
Pringles is 26 months. The same age Viva was when her little sister was born. Hard to imagine having a newborn with my youngest at this age. It makes me realize how much of Viva’s twosomeness I missed caring for my newborn. It’s hard to feel regret when I see the bond Viva and Odie formed out of necessity. The first time she called for daddy instead of me, I admit it stung a little. The relief of knowing Viva had a loving parent there for her at all times more than made up for a pang of mommy guilt.
I never thought I’d breastfeed 26 months (and counting). Sometimes people make tight faces when I mention I’m weaning Pringles. They are in the “if she’s old enough to ask for it, she’s too old” camp. Not only does she ask, she’ll tell anyone who listens, “I can have nummies at bedtime, and in Mommy’s chair when the sun comes up.” She will also tell you, with a grin, “Nummy milk is yummy milk!” Twenty-three year-old me would be so disgusted. But she was a judgmental, know-it-all bitch.
Not that I dislike young people. I adore them. I have 172 new ones in my life in the form of five periods of 11th grade English. It is exhausting and today I am on my 3rd sick day in three weeks. Between the kids I teach and the kids I live with, I’ve been fighting viruses since early August. Still, this year’s 11th grade class looks promising. Too promising.
Some fellow 11th grade teachers greeted me at Nutrition Break the second day of school with nervous smiles.
“How are your classes?” Mrs. B asked with forced casualness. I squinted my eyes suspiciously.
“Fine… Yours?” Her voice dropped conspiratorially.
“Amazing. I love them!”
“Me too!” I squealed. And I rarely squeal. We were both terrified to say it out loud for fear of angering the gods, but there you have it. Since 2008, I haven’t encountered a group of students so well-behaved and hard-working. After what I dealt with last year, it feels downright creepy. I keep thinking they’re playing a practical joke on me. On all of us.
One of my favorite coworkers stopped me in the hallway as I was leaving yesterday. “Something’s fishy with the juniors this year,” he said with a deep frown.
“Oh?” I replied innocently.
“Yeah.” He paused. Looking at me hard. Trying to read my face. Wondering how much to reveal. Guessing at what I may already know.
“They’re too nice. It’s freaking me the fuck out.”