Here's another little contribution to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week:
Munchkin climbed up on the bench, asking for some assistance. I helped him maneuver around until he settled down next to me with his little legs dangling over the edge of the wood. He swayed his legs back and forth.
"Na-na," he said, and made the sign for food. Na-na is a word he made up when he was less than a year old to designate food, eating, or hunger.
I pulled out some snacks. He nibbled, then climbed on and off the bench a few more times. We talked about the leaves and the California buckeyes ripening in the tree above us. Munchkin made his way through most of the snacks I'd packed, and finally resettled again next to me. He scooted up close to me so that our bodies were side by side, touching. I sighed that blissful maternal sigh of I can't believe how wonderful this is.
"I love you," I told him, putting my arm around him for a gentle hug and kiss. He smiled and finished the last bite.
"Boo?" he inquired gently.
"Really? You want the booby now?"
I'd never nursed him in our apartment's courtyard before. I felt a moment of cultural-conditioning discomfort when I remembered that the groundskeepers were about that day, mowing the lawns and trimming the hedges. Whatever, I thought, and dismissed my discomfort with a shrug. Then I felt true embarrassment, in front of myself, because I had never nursed him here before...here under the tranquil shade of a tree, here with the dreamy wind, here with the birds for a soundtrack.
"OK, come on over here," I said. He climbed into my lap and again I helped maneuver him into position. He looked me in the eye and I smiled down at him.
That was the moment I really got it. That was the moment when I truly understood extended breastfeeding. Munchkin wasn't hungry. He'd just eaten. He wasn't thirsty. I'd given him water. He wasn't seeking physical affection. We were already cuddled together. He wasn't seeking love. I had just told him. He wasn't tired or cranky, in pain, teething, uncomfortable, lonely, sad, scared, confused, none of it. He just wanted a bit more, he wanted it. In obliging him, I could also partake of this nebulous, mystical, transcendent, experience of breastfeeding beyond infancy. I could have a little bit of it, too.
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