Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fussing Like an Unweaned Child

Psalm 131:
LORD, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother's lap, so is my soul within me.
Israel, hope in the LORD, now and forever.
Maybe it's just that my orbit passes a little to close to some mommy-blog type elements of the Catholic blogsphere, but it seems sometimes that there's an awful lot of goo-iness spent over nursing. Nor is it strictly a Catholic thing. I once had a fellow new-father ask me at work, "Doesn't it kind of seem unfair that your wife gets to have all that closeness to the baby when she's nursing, and there's nothing you can do like that?" (Me: "Maybe, but I get over it fast by rolling over and going back to sleep.")

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that women shouldn't nurse in public, that babies should be given bottles only or anything like this. Clearly, breastfeeding is the most efficient and healthy way to keep a baby fed for the first 9-12 months of its existence.

But then comes the stage where baby is eating solid food just fine (in some cases more than her older sisters) but has got hooked on the nursing fix.

This comes especially into play at mass. First of all, I hold baby -- because otherwise she gets ideas right off. She looks around and burbles quietly and scrambles on the floor a bit if given the chance and all goes well till about the Psalm. Then she looks over at mommy, decides she'd like a fix, and starts fussing.

Daddy makes all efforts to silence the baby and eventually beats a swift retreat to the vestibule. (Mind you, this child is not hungry. She just ate five pancakes and drank a full cup of milk for breakfast.)

Silence. Silence as when the whale swallowed Jonah. I'm such a happy baby, daddy. I'm sucking my fingers. I'd never fuss at all in church. I'll just sit hang quietly on your shoulder till you realize that I'm never bad in church and take me back to the pew.

When everyone stands for the gospel, Daddy does just this. Now baby sees Mommy. The arms go out, the face crumples, and we fuss louder than before. Daddy and baby head out before the gospel is over.

Silence. I'm such a good baby, daddy, that I hardly know the meaning of fuss. I don't know why you keep dragging me out of the church.

Daddy has wised up by this point. He stays in the back and the silence continues. But even a long distance view works. When Mommy stands up to go up to communion, baby's nursing radar start bleeping like crazy and The Fuss begins again.

Until Mommy sits down again, at which point there is contented silence.

So I'm all with the psalm writer about this. Once you get past 12mo. or so, an unweaned child is like an alcoholic and mommy is the bottle. Just about time for someone to get on the wagon.


Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

You are a bold man to state publicly that you think it's OK to wean before high school. Let's hope you don't have a lot of rabid AP devotees reading. :)

Rick Lugari said...

LOL beat me to it.

I was going to say that not only did Darwin commit the sin of advocating weaning before puberty sets in, he mentioned that he "just rolls over" which indicates that he has room in his bed to move - which means he doesn't have a herd of kids sleeping with him - which means he's a bad parent - which means if word gets out around the blogosphere the parenting police will soon be here to set him straight.


Literacy-chic said...

I laughed. Especially at baby's perspective!

There was a stretch like that for us, but it passed and she decided that she only needed to nurse twice a day, at home--but that was well after she turned a year. She still decides she needs a fix--every couple of days, now. At 18 months. But we're almost there! (I figure, she better learn to forget about it before the new one comes!!)

MomLady said...

There is a non-nutritional element to nursing that some babies really like. My eldest child was a recreational nurser who wasn't weaned until well past the age of two, though by the end of that period he was down to just the bedtime nursing. Child number two was strictly a utilitarian nurser. From infancy, the moment the hunger pangs were allayed, he was outta there.

But yeah, it is no cruelty to deny a church-time nursing to a baby who is capable of eating a such a hearty breakfast.

Kate said...

We stopped nursing-on-demand soon after a year, for just this reason. My son was old enough to learn that everything has its time and its place. Soon we wre down to comfort-nursing at naps and bedtime, and when he was hurt or particularily upset....and once in a while, just cause we both wanted to. He never stopped asking, he just learned to accept 'no' pretty calmly. He weaned entirely, and pretty easily, at 22 months.

Foxfier said...

*blink* The grand total number of bottles all three children in my family had was... one. A juice bottle. None the less, I was on solid foods only in under a year.

I totally support moms being able to nurse with proper politeness (like a blanket or something) but... it's a little creepy when the kid comes up and said "Mom, suck!"

bearing said...

"Suck?" Ergh.

I have yet to figure out why people choose to teach their children to refer to nursing with such cringeworthy phrases. I think my personal favorite is "titty." :P

What's wrong with "milk?"

CMinor said...

You know, a well-made nursing shirt is a real boon in these cases...

Oh, and they do eventually get tired of it.

mrsdarwin said...

Our all-purpose term for nursing is "nosh". This is verb, noun, adjective, anything. But to my mind when the child is old enough to ask to nurse in words, she's too old to be nursing.

It's not that I feel I can't nurse her in church -- I don't want to. She isn't hungry and since she's so easily pacified by being carried back she obviously doesn't need to be calmed down. I don't really enjoy nursing a child who is old enough to squirm and wiggle and try to dance while she eats. Once they start trying to stand up, their days at the breast are numbered.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Time to horrify the Darwins ... My first was a late weaner (by my standards--she was still nursing for comfort once or twice a day close to age 3), and an astonishingly early reader (reading fluently by age 3).

I had my "time to wean" epiphany when she was nursing one evening and asked me to hold her book up so she could read it while she nursed. I was supposed to turn the pages, too. Cold turkey time, kid.

mrsdarwin said...

How late anyone chooses to nurse their child is really their own business, as long as I don't have to see it. And I do mean that -- seeing a child run over to his mother, pull up her shirt, and nurse while standing is off-putting for the casual witness.

Perhaps I'm scarred by early memories -- one of my sisters nursed until she was almost four, and at 10, I was embarrassed and disgusted. The nursing relationship may be primarily about the mother and child, but I think the mother ought to be aware of the image she's sending to her other children and to the populace in general.

I weaned my first at 14 months because I was 7 months pregnant and kept falling asleep while I nursed. (It was a fairly easy process, too, so we must have hit a natural lull.) My second weaned at about the same age -- mostly because she was so squiggly that when I sat to feed her she'd squirm around until she was standing, and then point one leg like a ballerina. Very amusing to watch, not so cute when I was on the business end of all the twisting. Baby is now 13 1/2 months, and nurses every now and then for comfort. As long as she behaves herself I'm willing to keep it up for a bit. Frankly, though, other forms of pacification and/or cuddling work just as well as nursing at this point.

Anonymous said...

Hey Darwin buddy, welcome to the club! The vestibule club that is. lol.

We've been down that road (er, aisle) seven times.

This was a fun post to read, and your kids like mine will by the grace of God grow up fine in spite of us. :)