(Subtitle: See what happens when I get positive feedback from my lovely friends? I write for HOURS!)
I think it's probably official now. Grouper is no longer nursing. I would like to say that he completely self-weaned, but that wouldn't be completely honest. My screaming "OW! OW! OW! What are you DOING to me?!" every time he latched on during the fourth month of this pregnancy probably had some effect on his desire to be near my breasts.
We were already down to four times a day -- before and after each sleep. Soon bedtime was out, because that was when I was grouchiest and least able to tolerate being touched. He tried to adjust his suckle so as not to hurt me, but that just made it tickle, which was even more irritating. Early morning, when I was still half-asleep and well-rested, became the only safe time for him to curl up next to me and quietly ask to nurse. Even then, we were down to two seconds at a time with me gritting my teeth.
We had what will probably be our last positive nursing experience together one morning last week. He hadn't nursed in a few days, and he took a chance. I stayed relaxed for a whole five minutes. He hasn't asked since then. I think he decided to savor the memory.
I always admired -- even romanticized -- moms who managed to nurse straight through their pregnancies, and then tandem-nurse their toddler and newborn, keeping sibling jealousy to a minimum. I think it would have made Grouper's first year a lot easier on Puffer. But by month four of both pregnancies my pain tolerance and my milk supply dipped low enough to significantly reduce the attractiveness of my breasts to my babies. Puffer was 13 months old when I last offered to nurse him. He just looked up at me and laughed. Apparently the increase in cup-size is only a turn-on to their father.
I'm pretty sure that Grouper's loss of interest in his afternoon nap was at least partially influenced by the loss of nursing incentive. Lots of children outgrow naps at age 3, and he'd already pushed it back an hour in the last six months. But he still needs more sleep than his brother, and would probably be getting that sleep in the afternoon if I were still nursing him.
Tonight he fell asleep on my shoulder at 6:30. He'd gotten one of his beautiful long lashes stuck in his eye and it wouldn't stop hurting even after I got it out. He usually has a very high pain tolerance, but this really upset him, so it was clear he was tired. But he didn't sleep through. He woke at 8, in time for a snack, teeth brushing and jammies, and then went back down at 9 or so.
The last two weeks have definitely been challenging. I still need MY nap or I get awfully cranky by 3 p.m. And Puffer was used to having Mommy and the rest of the house to himself every afternoon. It's been an adjustment to have to work his cranky little brother into his activities. Another part of Grouper's interest in staying up is that he wants to participate in the big boy stuff. He wants to play computer games, and play with our 7-year-old neighbor, and he wants mine and his brother's ATTENTION. And if he's not getting it, someone's going to get hurt.
I've been trying to squeeze in some yoga, even just 15 minutes, to keep myself breathing instead of reacting. But I shouldn't have eaten half a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels on Friday. My blood sugar was all over the place until Monday.
We did a little better today. I'm re-reading Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training to remind myself of the kind of parent I want to be. I highly recommend it. And I just ordered You Can Have a Family Where Everybody Wins: Christian Perspectives on Parent Effectiveness Training
by Earle H. Gaulke, which was recommended by someone on the Christian unschooling list I haunt.
I think I've been giving (and following) too many orders instead of helping the boys solve their own problems. At the same time, I overreact when they make simple, childish mistakes just because it causes more work for me. This became apparent when I found myself sobbing in the laundry room for the first time in a month after Grouper annoyed his brother by touching him with his foot, and Puffer wiped peanut butter off his fingers onto the carpet while engrossed in a TV show.
"WHY? WHY can't you get along? WHY? WHY do you do things that make more work for Mommy? You should KNOW better!" I cried. As though somehow now that they're three and four-and-half they should always be well-behaved and never forget to use a napkin.
*Sigh* And now that I'm nearly a full year into my fourth decade, I should know that nobody's perfect. Not me. Not my children.