Monday, May 25, 2009

Parenting Advice, Complete with the Barnes & Noble Guarantee

My baby is turning two next month and it's getting time to wean. I'm not ready to put breastfeeding in the past because of some arbitrary deadline, but because there's nothing like a semi-sleeping baby kneading your belly fat to make you want to take up binge drinking! In short, it's getting annoying. Not always, but sometimes. And the nursing can go on for hours, especially at night or early in the morning. She's not sleeping very well, I'm not sleeping very well, and when I do, visions of bras without snap-openings are dancing in my head.

So it's time to start the ball rolling in the direction of weaning.

But the thing is, despite my utter failure to nurse my baby into early adolescence (see Norma Jane Bumgarner's Mothering Your Nursing Toddler if you want to know how having a career and weaning your baby are the surest ways to leave her feeling neglected), I want to be very careful not to make her feel rejected or abandoned. I'm not going to start shouting at her to be a "big girl" or that nursing is for babies. I'm not going to hang a "Closed for Business" sign over my chest and let her cry it out. So, as with other things, I thought it would be useful to get a book about weaning geared to children her age to help her understand the concept.

Like this one for bottle-fed babies:

Thing is, finding a weaning book for toddlers is next to impossible. So when we were near a Barnes & Noble on Friday, I thought, why not check. And while FD & Ruby were reading books, I asked a salesperson in the kids' book section about such a book. After a few minutes of perusing the shelves and checking the computer, she told me they didn't have anything in stock.

Then she told me this:

"I think that once a child can go outside and play and then come in and ask for it [nursing], they're ready to stop."


Unsolicited parenting advice from bottle-feeding, anti-sling, pro-cry-it-out, anti-feminist, pro-yelling parents generally pisses me off, but when a broad at a bookstore tells me to quit nursing my kid, I see red (and not just the lipstick on her teeth).

Unfortunately, there's not a great ending to this story. I didn't pull some sweet Billy Blank Tae Bo moves on her, or give her a verbal dressing down. I didn't talk to her supervisor (blasted union background!) or even reply with the classic, "Old bag!" Instead, I think I breathed out a long "Uhhhhhhhhhh . . . yeah . . . ?"

Then she told me how, when she had her son many moons ago, she couldn't nurse him because she had no milk and he was "just fine!" Part of me thought she was making stuff up (and that her kid probably had a limp and a tick at least!), but the other part of me felt badly for her, and decided that maybe the reason she thought it was appropriate to suggest my kid's too old to wean is because she never had the chance to nurse her own baby, which I imagine is rather difficult if it's something a woman wants to do.

In other words, maybe this woman's lack of choices made her feel powerless and the only way she can deal with that powerlessness is to criticize other women's choices.

Fine, I'm a little bit of a sucker. But now I feel prepared for the next time someone decides to give me BS tips on raising my baby. I just have to practice: Old bag!

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