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TLB Comics- Six Reasons Moms Continue Breastfeeding For Themselves

by Jennie Bernstein and Jessica Martin-Weber

Breastfeeding toddlers for mom's benefit reality check

 

It probably seems obvious to anyone that has breastfed a toddler that doing so is clearly all about the mom’s desires.* What a mom gets out of breastfeeding her toddler is nothing more than a relaxing, pleasurable experience that makes her feel just like she did when she was breastfeeding her child as a newborn. In fact, it’s almost exactly the same. Breastfeeding beyond 6 weeks/6 months/12 months/18 months/6 years really is all about keeping their “baby” truly an actual baby.*

Still, some people just don’t understand. This list of 5 reasons moms continue to breastfeed their babies after the arbitrary acceptable cut-off date enforced by random strangers or other individuals such as family members and friends who aren’t actually whipping their boob out for their 3 year old “infant” to suckle may shed some clarity on the matter.

  1. To hold on to those baby months years. By continuing to breastfeed, her child won’t grow up and will stay an infant forever. This one is obvious. She just loves changing diapers, waking multiple times a night, and screams for communication that she is using her magic milk coming from her magic boobs to keep her child an infant. It’s just so fulfilling. After all, with no baby to baby, what would she do anyway?
  2. She is preparing to enter American Gladiator. Or Wipe Out. Breastfeeding her toddler/preschooler is the perfect training. With all this preparation, there is no doubt she’ll be winning that cash prize.
  3. She’s lazy. Can’t be bothered to teach that kid to eat real food or clean up after the inevitable mess it will make eating real food. So naturally she’d rather wrestle an octopus with her boob. Oh, and the octopus still wants food to throw.
  4. Lack of discipline. Too much of a softy to tell her kid no, she pulls out her boob for the little tyrant any time it is demanded. There’s probably nothing she says no to, like candy, knives, or running in the street…
  5. Looking for attention. Because everyone knows how fun it is to have everyone you know commenting on how they think you suck at parenting and finding just one more way for others to disagree with your parenting choices is just the most. fun. ever!
  6. Her pleasure. That’s right, this is really what it’s all about- her own personal pleasure. Round house kicks to the head, nipple twists during gymnurstics, niplash, you name it, they’re all for her pleasure. She’s just using her child for her own selfish desires and satisfaction which is why she agrees to breastfeed a truck from time to time and has perfected controlling her reactions to getting a finger jabbed into her eye.

 

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What would you add to your list as to reasons why moms may continue to breastfeed their toddler or preschooler?

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*This piece uses sarcasm and satire in an attempt to make a humorous point. It is possible it fails entirely and the reader may assume the author is serious. This note is to clarify that the author is, in fact, seriously not serious and just a bit of a smart a**.

How to Wean Your Teenager

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Ophélia and Lavinia Martin-Weber

How to wean a teenager

It is a well known fact that if you don’t make sure you get a baby off the boob by the end of their first year or definitely by the time they are two, they will never, ever stop breastfeeding and you’ll have to go to college with them. This is a fact known by every Tom, Dick, and Harry, Cindy, Karen, and Amanda. If you’re not aware of this, don’t worry, any conversation about breastfeeding beyond infancy in person, on an online article, blog posts, and of course, social media, will eventually become about this very fact. It is an inescapable truth: if you breastfeed past infancy your child will never wean and you will find yourself breastfeeding a teenager or young adult some day. Once they can ask for it you have to cut them off or they will never stop. Clearly breastfeeding is more addictive than chocolate, alcohol, crack, speed, shopping, and independence.

Because everyone knows that 3 and 13 are pretty much the same thing, you just stick a one in front of that 3. Teens are, according to most people, really just toddlers in bigger bodies, with raging hormones, pimples, and a slightly larger vocabulary. The temper tantrums are pretty much the same. Childhood goes so fast, don’t blink because you’ll miss it if you do and the next thing you know your 6’ 1” teenage boy will be folding himself onto your lap and tugging at your shirt saying “nene please mama.” Fact.

*Disclaimer: I have teenagers, they were breastfed as babies and toddlers but they never breastfed beyond early childhood so I can’t say I have any experience with this fact myself, nor have I ever encountered a breastfeeding teenager and unless my friends are lying, neither have they. But thousands of people say it is true. I know, I read it online.

But let’s say you’ve done it, ignored all the warnings and breastfed your child after their 1st birthday and then even after their 2nd and 3rd and 4th birthdays, now what? If you haven’t already, you’re headed straight to meeting them at lunch in high school so they can have mama milk. And if you have more than one child, you really are in big trouble. Juggling all those schedules to get your kids their babas is going to get really challenging.

It’s true, I guess, you’re just going to HAVE to cut them off at some point unless you really are ok following them to college and then some day on their honeymoon. There could be bonding moments in the future as you breastfeed your grown son while his wife breastfeeds their son. If that just won’t work for you though, how are you ever going to get that teenager to stop breastfeeding? When is it really time to wean and how do you do it?

I turned to my resident experts on teens: Earth Baby, 16, and Storyteller, 13. They were a bit shocked when I initially brought it up to them:

Me: “How should a mom wean their teenager from breastfeeding?”

EB: “Wait, WHAT?”

Storyteller: “That’s a thing? I don’t think that’s a thing.”

Me: “It’s totes a thing, I read it online.”

*At this point I got “the look” from Storyteller.

Storyteller: “You should never say ‘totes again’ and now I know that’s not a thing.”

EB: “Wait, WHAT? Are you really asking what I think you are asking?”

Me: “What’s wrong with me saying ‘totes’? And yes, I’m really asking.”

EB: “I don’t think any of my friends have conversations like this with their moms…”

Storyteller: “OMG, I know mine don’t. They also don’t breastfeed. Or say ‘totes.’ People saying teenagers breastfeed are severely lacking in intelligence. You can’t say ‘totes’ because you’re too old.”

EB: “Our family is weird, isn’t it?”

Me: “They either don’t breastfeed because their mom weaned them when they were young enough or they do breastfeed in secret. Some of them have to because I read it on the internet. Why am I too old to say ‘totes’?”

Storyteller: “You do know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, right? It’s just dumb to think that kids that don’t stop breastfeeding when they are little will end up wanting to breastfeed as teenagers. Saying ‘totes’ is dumb too. What is wrong with people?”

Me: “I write on the internet, of course you can believe everything you read on the internet!

Earth Baby: “This is ridiculous.”

Earth Baby and Storyteller how to wean teenagers

Storyteller (left) and Earth Baby (right).

It took a while to get them to just go with me on this but that was an excellent example of just how hard it could be to wean a teenager. They’re stubborn creatures and smart too, they can argue until you’re blue in the face and they’ll still continue. Weaning a breastfed teenager could be intensely difficult! I can see why there are so many warnings to wean while they are still young.

Besides, can you imagine breastfeeding through the dreaded wisdom teeth stage?

After bribing them, they came up with some ideas. I shot down a few, such as the suggestion that you just tell them no, that it’s all done. Oh puh-lease, teenagers and “no” go about as well together as oil and water. I’m not so great at taking a direct “no” either so I know it’s best to save them for the big things such as “no, you absolutely can not surf on the hood of a truck going down the highway.” They agreed that “no” wouldn’t work given our family’s own personal experience with how well “no” is an effective strategy for a teenager. #itsnoteffectiveatall

Here are the ones we all thought might be most effective though, all approved by the teenagers in my house:

Gentle conversation. According to my 13 year old, teenagers are reasonable.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Moving on.

Bribe them with cake. That’s right, offer cake and tell them if they give up “bobbies” they can have cake. Also acceptable would be cake pops, frappuccinos, mini doughnuts, and iTunes gift cards.

Wean to drive. They can’t drive or get a drivers license until they give up the mama milks for good. No exceptions. It would be so important for mom to hold strong when the whining starts after they’ve started driving and start whining about how badly they need their nene.

Entertainment options. If you’re trying to wean a younger teen or maybe a tween, you could try saying no PG 13 movies because those movies are for big kids and big kids don’t get to breastfeed any more. This will work because all their friends will be talking about the next Pitch Perfect movie and they’ll totally be left out which would even be worse than weaning.

Smart phone. Like breastfeeding, all the teens are smartphoning these days. It’s simple though, mom will have to get another job to afford the bill so she can’t breastfeed any more. If they want a smartphone to fit in with their friends, they’ll be more than willing for mom to hang up her nursing bras and go to work.

Dating. Explain that any possible dates will be a little horrified if they found out they were still breastfeeding. It could really hurt their chances of finding a date… ever. But since embarrassment is worse than death for teens, simply posting a breastfeeding selfie and tagging them on social media would possibly do it. Also, would take care of the whole talking to you thing.

Prom. There’s just no way you could find an on trend yet age appropriate prom dress that has easy boob access. Show them what you’d have to wear to prom so they had mama milks when they needed it. They’ll never want to breastfeed again.

Charge. Teenagers are the largest demographic with a disposable income. Use it to your advantage, my 13yo thought that $1/1 minute sounded about fair if a teen wanted to continue breastfeeding. That would encourage them to wean real quick: buy a new outfit or get some “bob bob” and the decision would be pretty simple.

Just say no. My teenagers maintain that saying “my body, my choice” would be a firm boundary no teenager would cross. Specially if you’re already teaching them to respect themselves and others.

So, tell us, what are your tips for weaning teenagers?

 

*Please note: this is intended to be humorous with a bit of satire.

Is breastfeeding past infancy messing up kids?

“I don’t really remember breastfeeding exactly but I remember weaning.”  The bubbly, outgoing 12 year old friend of my own bubbly, outgoing 12 year old daughter, reminded me of a friendly, excited butterfly, flitting about from topic to topic as she danced around our living room while chatting.  Not exactly sure how we got to breastfeeding but it didn’t phase her in the slightest talking about it.

None of my own children remember breastfeeding.  They know they did breastfeed and they’ve seen photographic evidence of this fact but they don’t have any recollection of it.  I asked our friend how old she was when she weaned.

“Four I think, maybe a little older.  My sister was 5 though, she was lucky.”  She began to dance on to another topic.  I brought her back to breastfeeding and asked her what she did remember about breastfeeding and weaning, wanting to know more about her views not only as a 12 year old but the daughter of two physicians.

“I was sad to wean, so sad.  We had a party and I remember it was fun but I liked nursing better than the weaning party.”  Pursed lips and raised eyebrows punctuated this statement.

“Why were you sad about weaning?” I was curious about how she perceived breastfeeding as a 4 year old and how that translated now that she was 12.  Her reaction was priceless: she looked at me like I was stupid and scoffed at me.

“I couldn’t have nurnies any more, of course I was sad.  Nurnies were the best thing ever and now I had to give them up.  I was little, I didn’t like that.  I loved nurnies, of course I was sad to give them up.”

She paused to execute a pirouette.  I took the opportunity to ask what she liked about “nurnies.”

“Well, I don’t know, they were soft and warm.  It just felt good and I think I liked the milk, it was sweet.  But I don’t remember breastfeeding, just how I felt.  Nurnies felt good.  Nurnies felt safe.  Nurnies just felt right.  I don’t really know but I know that I liked nurnies a lot.  And you know what?  I think breastfeeding is more than just good for little kids, it helps them grow up too.  They don’t have to stop when they’re babies, little kids need time to grow up, like…”  She was searching for something as she tried to explain what she meant.

“Like a transition?” I offered.

“Yeah, a transition.  But a slow one over a long time.  It’s not like birds where the mom just kicks them out of the nest.  Having nurnies helps transition, it’s just so nice and I don’t see why it would need to be hurried up, it was good getting to breastfeed for a long time.  I’d have gone longer but I think my mom was ready to be done plus there was my little sister.  She was lucky, she got to go until she was five.”

“You were lucky too, not many children in the USA get what you got.  Even my own children were all weaned by the time they were 3 so far” I tell her.

Her eyes widened: “Really?  Wow, I thought they all breastfed a lot longer.  They act like they did.”

My turn to be surprised.

She explained: “I don’t know, breastfeed kids seem to eat really well, they are what I call high palette kids with more developed tastes I think.  And they are usually so nice and interesting.”

I think of my kids and most of them do seem to have very mature taste but I point out that could just be exposure.  Still, she’s pretty on target here, there is some science that would appear to back her observation.  Unfortunately that science hasn’t always been the case in our house.  I mention that there are many nice people that were formula fed too.  She agreed.

“Are you ever embarrassed that you breastfed so long?  As you’ve gotten older and have seen more of how society acts about breasts, has it ever made you uncomfortable about how long you breastfed?”

Again I receive another looked like I’m a complete idiot.

“What?  Why?  No, that’s just dumb.  I know, I see it in the mall and online, people love boobs being all sexy but come on, we all know what they are really for even if they are being pushed up and air brushed.  Those sexy ladies with their boobs all hanging out, who cares, babies probably see them and get hungry.  They see a sexy model with her boobs out and I bet they are all ‘nurnie, I want nurnie!”

The room erupts with laughter.  I bow out of the conversation, my own 12 year old had been giving me the “stop talking to my friend” look for a little bit and it was time for me to give them their space again.  They go on to joke, strutting like awkward fashion models with their chests thrust out as they make severe faces and I’m reminded of Zoolander.  Fits of giggles as they talk in baby voices about wanting nurnies from imaginary breasts in an imaginary mall or magazine.  Then the butterfly girls flit on to another flower of a topic, deciding they need to take over the kitchen and bake something.

Toddlers are expert multitaskers at the breast.

Toddlers are expert multitaskers at the breast.

A year ago a very good friend of mine shared how she had taken her 4 kids to take a meal to another friend that had a new baby.  Her 13 year old son with her, she wondered if he felt awkward when the new mother began breastfeeding but was proud of him for acting like it was no big deal.  When she asked him about it later he shrugged in a typical 13 year old boy way and said no.  He remembers breastfeeding, he told her, it’s not a big deal.  Like our 12 year old friend, this 13 year old boy understands that feeding babies is what breasts are for.

Yet whenever breastfeeding beyond 12 months comes up in the news or in social media, people express an overwhelming concern for the mental development of these children.  It’s damaging, many commenters claim, that poor child is going to be so confused.  Once they have teeth you must stop!  Once they can talk and ask for it you have to cut them off!  Once they can eat solids, give that child a cup!  Mothers that breastfeed too long are sick, selfish, gross, perverted, and unable to let their child grow up these people usually assert.  Because they aren’t used to seeing what is actually biologically and anthropologically normal duration breastfeeding, they categorize this different choice they don’t understand as being wrong and rationalize that if it’s “wrong” it’s going to mess up the child.

In 2010 a study was released discussing the long term mental health benefits of breastfed children.  That’s right, the long term mental health benefits from extended breastfeeding.  Not mental health disadvantages, not long term sexual issues from extended breastfeeding, not long term dysfunctions from extended breastfeeding, long term mental health benefits of extended breastfeeding.  Which sure sounds like extended breastfeeding is good for the child’s mental health, not damaging.

It’s true that in society today we are conditioned to expect to see breasts in a beer commercial, on display in the windows of the mall, even bouncing around fast food chain ads before we expect to see them feeding an infant, let alone a toddler or preschooler.  Breasts have been hypersexualized to such an extent that many can’t imagine them any other way.  So I can see why people would be concerned.  But children are different, they don’t have the capacity to even understand sex and so wouldn’t think that breastfeeding was anything more than food and comfort.  Adults that say that breastfeeding is sexual are simply revealing their own hang ups and projecting on the child.  And maybe it shouldn’t be the biologically normal thing that needs to change, maybe we should focus on changing culture and take a stand against the objectification and over emphasis on the sexual nature of the female breasts so we can feed our children without fear of it being confused with pedophilia.  What would happen if we left women alone and let them make their own choices by weighing the information?  Stop telling women that the value of their bodies lies in what it can sell, stop telling women what they must or must not do with their bodies, stop telling women that they don’t have say in how they use their bodies.  If a woman wants to breastfeed until her child is 4 years old it is nobody’s business but that of the mother and that child and the evidence is in that there is no reason to believe it will cause mental health issues.

Today breastfeeding into early childhood may not be for everyone, there may be a lot of legitimate reasons not to for any given mother.  But there being a long term risks to their mental health to breastfeed into early childhood isn’t one of them.  My 12 year old was weaned from the breast earlier than any of my children.  When she was 4.5 months I gave up on my breastfeeding goals due to her severe reflux (which didn’t get better with formula, it got much, much worse) and agonizing breast pain that no doctor could identify and the only solution I was given was to wean.  After two trips to the ER because of the pain, I relented and switched her to formula.  Something that grieved me very much at the time.  Watching her hang out with her friend I acknowledged that you couldn’t tell which one was breastfed until she was 4 years and which one was breastfed until she was 4 months.  Both are happy, energetic, smart, well adjusted girls and both have loving, committed parents and neither demonstrate any mental health issues.  So my own personal experience and the research would lead me to believe that no, breastfeeding past infancy isn’t messing up our kids and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s because all that love, all that connection can’t be a bad thing and I’m glad my daughter has a friend so secure and so confident that understands the natural biological function of breasts as feeding tools for babies that they can laugh together at the messages the world sends them about the female form.  If we want to look for what’s messing up kids and their view of sex and women, let’s start somewhere else.

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What about you?  Did you breastfeed long enough to remember?  Or your children?  What are your thoughts on breastfeeding beyond a year?

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Not sure about breastfeeding beyond a certain point?  That’s ok, it may not be for you.  Some women feel comfortable doing so and before you criticize them be informed as to why that might be.  These links may be helpful:

 Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding systematic reviews and meta-analyses

 

Breast milk feeding and cognitive ability at 7-8 years

 

Breastfeeding past infancy fact sheet

 

Breastfeeding beyond infancy in developed countries

 

Continuing breastfeeding beyond the first year

 

The breastfeeding toddler explains

 

I’m not going to try to convince you to breastfeed your toddler

 

Toddler breastfeeding, frustration, and what keeps me going

 

Embracing Beyond

 

Unsupportive support: breastfeeding toddlers and introducing solids

The Breastfeeding Toddler Explains

 The transition from infant to toddler is usually a very gradual process, at times completely imperceptible.  But it is very real and there are some very special aspects of breastfeeding a toddler that are unique.  One shares with us.

 Breastfeeding toddler in black and white

 

Dear grown-ups,

My vocabulary is still quite limited but that doesn’t mean my brain isn’t going all the time and there are a few things you need to know.  Particularly about breastfeeding toddlers.  Because some grown-ups seem to get confused, I will take a moment to explain very simply so even an adult can understand.  As a breastfed toddler, what I like to just call “human being”, I don’t understand why anyone would think I shouldn’t be breastfed.  The milk is yummy, I like to be close to mommy, it’s fun, and I was just a baby still yesterday and I’m not grown up over night, you know.  Also, I don’t care how many months I am, I know I like to breastfeed and I still need it, so please don’t make it sound gross or bad.  That just seems mean.  Don’t be a meanie.  Some toddlers may be ready to move on, that’s fine and I’m not judging them but don’t judge me just because I’m not ready yet and need to breastfeed to get through my day.  I don’t judge you for what you drink to get through your day, ok?  Acting like there’s something gross and wrong about something I’ve been doing my whole life is confusing, just let me do my thing.  I can’t imagine ever stopping breastfeeding but most of the people I see don’t breastfeed any more so I figure it’s inevitable I’ll stop at some point.  Just not today.

Also, before someone tells me there’s no nutritional value to breastfeeding past the first year (it feels nutritional to me, more than most chicken nuggets) check out how breastmilk continues to change to meet my very special toddler requirements here and a mommy’s point of view on how special breastfeeding is here.

 Toddler bfing judging image

Toddler’s guide to breastfeeding (so simple, even a grown-up can understand):

 

  • Hungry?  Breastfeed.
  • Sad?  Breastfeed- rub mommy’s arm.
  • Happy?  Breastfeed- giggle lots and dribble milk.
  • Bored?  Breastfeed and sing with your mouth full of milk, won’t be bored any more!
  • Feeling silly?  Breastfeed and growl while sticking finger up mommy’s nose, she’ll growl too!
  • Tired?  Breastfeed.
  • Tired but don’t want to sleep?  Breastfeed- keep switching sides.
  • Tired but don’t want to sleep and want to try to keep playing?  Breastfeed- break out dance moves.
  • Want to go to sleep?  Breastfeed.
  • Just wake up?  Breastfeed and consider falling back asleep.
  • Fall asleep on the breast and mommy tries to sneak away?  MUST BREASTFEED.
  • See mommy is busy and want her attention?  NEED to breastfeed NOW.  Sign milk constantly at the breast.
  • See mommy is not busy?  Breastfeed.
  • See mommy is bored and needs something to do other than laundry?  Breastfeed.
  • Mommy trying to work?  Breastfeed.
  • Afraid mommy is going to go down the toilet?  Keep mommy safe, saver her by holding on to the boobies by breastfeeding!
  • See mommy sat down?  GET THE BOOBIES!  Even if you just breastfed, breastfeed now, she wants you too, why else would she sit down?
  • See the ta-tas out when mom is changing?  BREASTFEED NOW!  DO NOT LET THEM GET AWAY!
  • Fall down?  Breastfeed, pop off and wail occasionally to remind everyone what happened.
  • Get hurt?  Breastfeed.
  • Got hurt yesterday but just remember?  Breastfeed and whine at the same time.
  • Broken toy?  Breastfeed, pull mom’s hair so she knows how upset you are.
  • Can’t climb that stupid gate thing?  Breastfeed and point at it.
  • Break mommy or daddy’s toy?  Breastfeed and make sure she keeps looking you in the eye until the oxytocin kicks in and you help her forget about the toy.
  • See mommy and daddy kiss?  Breastfeed and slap daddy away.
  • See mommy and daddy hug?  Breastfeed and give daddy the evil eye.
  • See friend breastfeeding?  Breastfeed more than them.
  • Mommy sleepy?  Time for gymnurstics.
  • Mommy tries to exercise?  Breastfeed- insist on side lying.
  • Mommy eating?  Breastfeed- time for gynurstics or stick fingers in her mouth.
  • Mommy getting ready for date with daddy?  Breastfeed- insist on hand on other one too, give daddy stink-eye.
  • Mommy talking on the phone?  Breastfeed while standing on her lap, pop off occasionally to yell in her face to help her talk.
  • Mommy making food for other people?  Remind her how easy it is to breastfeed.  If she doesn’t do it right away, cling to leg, refuse the carrier, and jam your hands down her shirt as soon as possible.
  • Need to pee?  Breastfeed then freak.
  • Just changed diaper and need to poop?  Breastfeed.
  • Wearing clothes?  Breastfeed.
  • Naked?  Breastfeed?
  • Love dinosaurs, baby dolls, trains, elephants, anything else?  Breastfeed to celebrate and tell mommy all about it.
  • Get a new toy?  Breastfeed and insist mommy breastfeed the toy too.
  • Toys get hungry?  Have mommy breastfeed toy, get angry that mommy is sharing with toy, throw tow, breastfeed and give toy stink-eye.
  • On a plane?  Breastfeed- swallow loudly to clear ears and make everyone happy you’re not screaming.
  • Headed to the car?  Quick, arch back, twist, anything, BREASTFEED.
  • Mommy holding you while meeting new people?  Breastfeed or at least let them know the boobies are yours by shoving hands in mommy’s shirt.
  • Daddy and mommy snuggling in bed?  Need that boob!  No, that one!  No, the other one!  Must breastfeed on both right now!
  • Mommy in shower?  Let her know you need to breastfeed and are worried the shower will wash your milk away.  Screaming may be necessary.
  • Walking?  Breastfeed every couple of steps.
  • Climbing?  Breastfeed when they move you off things.  Every time.
  • Have sickies?  Breastfeed lots and lots and lots.
  • Cutting molars?  Smash all the things!  And breastfeed.
  • See picture of breastfeeding?  Breastfeeding for all!
  • Hear music?  Do the breastfeeding dance.
  • Knock over block tower?  Breastfeed- hold block and hit mommy with it.
  • Grandma coming over?  Breastfeed and tell her how excited you are about it at the same time.
  • Having a first experience?  Breastfeed.
  • Think mommy is going to leave without you?  Desperately need to breastfeed to avoid starvation.
  • Mommy returns home after being out?  Five minutes or 5 hours, you must breastfeed while berating her for leaving even if you didn’t actually notice she was gone.

Isn’t breastfeeding wonderful?

You know what else is wonderful?  The roll of toilet paper.  You can use the whole thing to fill the potty, it’s so fun!  And then mommy has to clean up a giant mess and it’s time to breastfeed again.  Everyone has fun!

Love,

Your friendly local breastfeeding toddler.

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What would you or your toddler add to this list of toddler breastfeeding?  Have you changed your views of breastfeeding beyond a year?

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Extreme Reality- Breastfeeding Reality TV?

I’m not a fan of “reality” TV, well, most reality TV.  I do like So You Think You Can Dance but that’s a competition (of sorts), not really reality TV, right?  Anyway, most so-called reality TV seems anything but real.  The few times I’ve wasted took the time to watch some it seemed to be nothing more than a hyperbolic visual of humanity and I had to ask where did they find these people?

The truth is it’s possible that with some clever editing even my boring life may possibly appear to be entertaining drama.  Some very, very clever editing.  I mean, I work, do laundry (sometimes, there could be drama over the laundry thing actually), play with my kids, feed my children…

Oh my gosh, there it is!  The entertainment opportunity of reality TV ripe and just waiting to be picked RIGHT THERE!  I feed my children.  *gasp*

Apparently, some think that is quality reality TV just waiting to happen.  You can read about it here.  Not just any feeding, true.  Breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding over a year.  Cause that is so extreme.

 

*blink*

 

We’re reaching here, right?

There are moments when I think I must be really dense because I just don’t get it.  Like now.  If this is extreme to the point that an entire reality TV series to be called “Extreme Parenting” is based on it then why does my life seem so… not extreme?  I’ve breastfed 3 of my 6 children past the 1 year mark (past the 2 year mark…).  That should make me off the charts extreme, right?

Even with the most clever editing possible this sounds like the most boring reality TV show ever.  Because this just doesn’t seem extreme.  It’s really rather normal.  Average.  Regular.

We are a family of 8, 6 are girls under the age of 14, living in a 1400 square foot house with one bathroom.  ONE BATHROOM FOR 8 PEOPLE!  Talk about real entertainment.

Picture this: mom pushing past the 13 year old in the narrow hallway, guiding a wide-eyed 2 year old clutching between her legs, eyes wide as she desperately declares “I peepee!”  Frantically, mom knocks on the door of the bathroom, telling the 9 year old to take her book and get off the toilet now, it’s an emergency.  The 9 year old calls out that she just sat down.  The 11 year old squeezes past the mom and 2 year old in the hallway, telling the camera “ugh, my dad took forever in the bathroom after his shower, I almost peed my pants this morning.”  The 2 year old is heard saying “uh-oh” as the mom just about kicks down the door…

If any aspect of my life is extreme it’s this and maybe the laundry.  But breastfeeding past 12 months old?  Not so much.  Plus, the bathroom thing is lame.

Breastfeeding being depicted in mainstream media?  Even if it’s depicted as “extreme” and pitched as being weird and kind of crazy, is that all bad?  Eh, maybe not.  Who knows, someone may see some heavily edited episode and think “wow, I want to be just like those people!”  Because that’s totally what everyone watching reality TV thinks.  After all, Extreme Parenting is the brainchild of the same team that brought us Dance Moms and Bridezillas.  Just look at how those shows have elevated the obsessed pushy mother of a child dancer and obsessed pushy bride-to-be. These women are endeared to society the world over and every mother can’t wait to sign up her child for dance for their chance as a dance mom and all brides to be dream of their bridezilla moments with anticipation.

 

Oh wait…

 

There is a potential hidden nugget of positive in this exploitive form of entertainment that seems to enjoy depicting women as vapid, out-of-control selfish individuals with boundary issues: it will get people talking.  And when someone tells me about the crazy lady on that Extreme Parenting show and how she was actually breastfeeding her 3 year old I’ll say “puhshaw, that’s nothing. You want to talk extremes?  We have 8 people and 1 bathroom.  EIGHT PEOPLE AND 1 BATHROOM!”

Even this is less extreme than the activity surrounding our bathroom most mornings.

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 What do you think of this show?  Would you be on it?

The Leakies are talking about it over on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page, discussing the show, what other activities may be seen in a family that breastfeeds past 12 months, and activities we would consider more “extreme” than breastfeeding past 1 year.  Come join in the conversation.