Today it is 36 degrees. This is not an acceptable temperature. Not for anyone who has to do anything or get anywhere. So most people.
After a sweltering school run, I drove to the coolest place in town; my parents’ house. Surrounded by large trees and bordering on a patch of woodland, their old and draughty cottage ( where I usually complain I am cold) is somewhat refreshing amid the absurd levels of heat.
“Shut the door!” my Mum exclaims as we enter a darkened hallway. She’d kept all curtains drawn blocking the slightest ray of sunshine.
“I don’t want any heat getting in!” she says. Excellent work.
I have taken refuge in the coldest darkest room in the house; my Dad’s study.
As well as escaping the heat, I am also hiding from my children. (Not unusual). Or one child in particular. The toddler. It seems, whenever I dare to take a moment to remain stationary for longer than a few seconds, whenever I have the audacity to sit myself down anywhere, my son will see this as his cue to launch himself at me; specifically to nurse. He sees my bottom hit the seat and views this as his big opportunity, his prime access to his favourite thing in the world.
I have been breastfeeding my son all of his life. He’s never had a dummy, nor formula milk. I was his main source of both nutrition and comfort. Now he is nearly two, and I firmly believe it is time we stopped. Only I am having trouble initiating this bittersweet ending. Saying no to a toddler who is desperate to nurse provokes all manner of hysterical fireworks. You are denying them their most beloved thing, which they do not take kindly to.
If I’m at my parents’ and he wants to feed, my Mum will whisk him away for a glass of milk and he’s perfectly fine.
At home, things are more mood dependent. If I’m feeling strong, I will say no, offer him some milk or water and distract him with pretty much anything, remaining consistent in my “no” response until he’s forgotten all about it.
Other days, when I might be more sleep deprived and therefore weak, I will start with a “no”, offer the usual liquids, pick up a few toys, but later give in to his whining and blouse-tugging, desperate for a moment of quiet.
“Just let him cry!” my mum will say down the phone as I complain for the 84th time that I still have not successfully weaned.
“Yes well that’s easy to say isn’t it..” I reply wearily. I hear her roll her eyes down the phone.
Some days I don’t even bother trying. I reach a point, usually around mid-afternoon, when I can no longer bare the thought of any unnecessary crying. So I just let him get on with it. I still sometimes feed him to sleep for his daytime nap.
Yesterday I answered the door with him still attached. He was just beginning to dose off and I was not about to pull him off for what might have been a DPD delivery. (It was in fact my good friend Beth, who, like most of my friends, has seen me in nursing-action repeatedly over the years).
Despite some inconsistency, our weaning journey has slowly begun. It might take weeks or even months, but our nursing days will soon be behind us. And as much as I look forward to having a cup of tea without a toddler pulling my top up, I will miss it.
I’ll miss his little face light up as I plonk him on my lap to feed.
I’ll miss his sweet hands on my chest.
I’ll miss the ease of soothing a tired baby in seconds.
It’s been our special thing and now it’s nearly over. Not quite though, he’ll have full access during the heatwave.