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5 Years – The Milestone I Don’t Talk About

My son turned 5 this week.  His fifth birthday also marks the day that I have been breastfeeding for five years straight.  Followers may recall I recently wrote about my daughter’s second birthday.  I see them doing the math – I breastfed him for 3 years or so, and have been breastfeeding her for the past 2, right?  Actually no.  My five year old son still breastfeeds.

I don’t talk about it as often as I’d like to.  It’s not for shame – I am very proud of my breastfeeding journey.  I love to call myself a lactivist and take any opportunity to discuss breastfeeding with anyone who wants to talk about it.  I WANT to talk about it. I feel like a total fraud for NOT talking about it more.  Normalising breastfeeding is hugely important to me and part of me feels like a gutless wonder for not being more open about my own circumstances.

But despite the best efforts of lactivists everywhere, “term” breastfeeding still a very negative stigma.  And while I don’t mind copping flack from the keyboard warriors about my choices, I don’t want to offer my son up to be slaughtered by people who, at best, simply don’t know any better.

More so, I don’t want him to be judged by people who actually know us.  It makes me really sad to feel like I can’t tell the people closest to us that he still breastfeeds twice a day (once at bedtime and again when he wakes).  I wish I could talk about it with pride.  They might look at me differently, and I could live with that.

But they might look at my son differently, and I can’t live with that.

It’s not fair.  My son is perfect (well, as perfect as any five year old boy can be).  My husband and I are often praised for raising such a great kid, but I know that if the people around us knew he still breastfed, things would change.  I have felt part of my job as a parent is to protect him until he is ready to step out, take risks and move towards greater independence.  What could be described as loving and attentive parenting would be twisted into a mother who is selfishly preventing her son from growing up.  What they currently know as his and my close bond would suddenly become creepy, perverted and unnatural in their eyes.

My son has already felt the sting of this judgement, after a family member (who assumed weaning had already taken place) joked about mummy’s milk being for the baby.  He has asked that we hide his breastfeeds and don’t talk about them with people outside of our immediate family.  My beautiful, innocent five year old wants me to hide information from adults because he is afraid they will make fun of him.

Even in online spaces dedicated to supporting breastfeeding, I have occasionally been met with shock and disgust.  Five years is too much even for some vocal breastfeeding advocates. I also feel safe enough talking about this on my blog, because even though it’s now out there for all to see, I’m small-time, and basically my blog is generally only read by people who are on the same page as me (although if this post is picked up and made viral, I’ll consider that divine intervention and a sign that I should be more open from now on).

Part of the reason why my son is amazing is because of the way he has been raised, and breastfeeding has been a big factor in it.  I wish I could point that out to everyone, but it’s never going to be received the way I’d hope.  So I’ll just have to be content with telling you.

Happy boobaversary to me.

 

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17 thoughts on “5 Years – The Milestone I Don’t Talk About

  1. Lots of love mama. bravo!

  2. Happy boobiversary!! Well done Mumma! 💚💚💚

  3. Go Mama! Happy boobaversary. My oldest breastfeeder is almost 3 and i can relate. Even when I’m at a breastfeeding group I have a tough time admitting it, as I don’t want those newer mums to think that I expect them to do the same. At this point it definitely isn’t for me, she loves boobie! It’s daunting to think she might still be going in a couple of years!

  4. I can relate. This is my story of my daughter’s weaning at 5 yrs and I took me 2 yrs to share it. I barely told a soul when she weaned as it I felt people wouldn’t understand. I thought you may like to read it.
    http://www.empoweringbirthandbreastfeeding.com/blog/willow-s-weaning-the-end-of-a-road

    1. Your story hit home for me. My daughter is 5yrs 3 months and said she is stopping when kindergarten starts this fall. Hard to comprehend that I went from a 2 year goal to over 5 years in the blink of an eye. We’ve been comfort nursing (no milk) since I had major surgery last July. Its been her and my comfort.

  5. I think you’re amazing and I’m deeply saddened by your son’s experience with society. Haters gonna hate but it’s sad that your son had to learn that at such a young age. Lucky he’s got such an awesome mum to help him heal.

  6. thank you! I also breastfed very long term, and am so glad I did.

  7. My son is 4.5 and ‘still’ breastfeeds. It’ll be quite a milestone to reach 5, you’re right about that. Thank you for being so open and paving the way for other mother and mothers-to-be who may be struggling with the stigma. Happy boobaversary to you! <3

  8. I completely relate. My girl turned 5 in December. She told me that she doesn’t want her friends at preschool to know bc they would make fun of her. Recently, she has decided she will stop when she starts kindergarten this fall. I asked why and she said because people will think she’s wierd. Breaks my heart.

  9. Good on ya. Haters gonna hate

  10. My 4 1/2 year old son and I are still on our nursing journey, too, and I’m in the same boat you are. Way to go, Mama!

  11. Amazing,brilliant mother and lucky son. My daughter is two and I will feed her till she self weens x

  12. You are awesome. I am really proud of your brave lactivism.
    My daughter has just turned 5 and it’s funny how she’s starting to feel a sense of modesty regarding her nudity in front of some people, and even though we haven’t talked about it I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want certain people to know she boobs to sleep (no milk, just comfort.) I asked her recently when she thinks she’ll stop. She has no quit date, shes not starting school.
    I am careful of who I tell. I definitely don’t want her friends to know. We haven’t boobed infront of others for at least a year.
    There are other mothers who I know BF’d past toddlerhood, but I don’t see them feeding in public anymore either and I feel like it’s much too personal to ask if they have continued in private. I don’t want to out them if they’re uncomfortable telling, and don’t want to offer up our secret first either in case they judge us!
    It’s kind of how a lot of personal choices ought to be; none of anyone else’s fricking business!

    I told one new friend that we boob and within a few months they had made the assumption that we’d since stopped, maybe simply because it’s behind closed doors, and a bit unimaginable. Maybe it’s more comfortable to pretend it doesn’t happen.

    Keep on boobin’ on!

  13. My son nursed until he was 5. I stopped then because it became uncomfortable for me. He’s 9 now and tells me still he wants nursies and that we stopped too soon :(. I love the bond it gave us. Wouldn’t change it 🙂

  14. Kudos to you for your commitment to your son, to nursing as Mother Nature intended and letting your son lead … So sad that society (at least here in the U.S., and in some other “civilized” places) has strayed so terribly far from this beautiful biological reality of our species.

    It takes courage to follow your heart and your instincts amid such widespread cultural ignorance, and your son is very lucky. I am still nursing my 2.5-year-old son, basically on demand whenever I’m with him (I work full-time) night and ay, and I have no plans to stop until he’s ready. I hope we have at least a couple to a few more years of breastfeeding ahead of us — whatever it looks like at that time! I cherish this special bond with him, and wish more people knew how beautiful a nursing relationship can be with a child.

    At this stage, I’m not abashed about nursing in public with him … I just ignore or tune out anyone who might stare … But you’ve raised a point I never considered: My son feeling self-conscious about it someday, and how we would handle that if it happens to us.

    I’m sorry your son had to feel the sting of that stigma against nursing at his age, but it’s wonderful how you are trying to navigate a way that respects his feelings and your mutual desire to continue nursing.

  15. Awesome congrats on your boobversary 🎉🎉 I’m currently breastfeeding my 2 year old and my 4 nearly 5 year old she is at Kindy and she said to me one day! “I’m going to tell all the kids at my school I drink booby milk” I said you do what makes you happy 🙂 and she did tell them and she was so happy and she said and they didn’t laugh at me 🙂 thank you for your blog x

  16. […] I’ve written a few posts about my term breastfeeding journey with Mr 5 (see some old posts here, here and here). Those posts always get a lot of interest, with many curious about how it works. […]

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