MY MOMMY BREASTFED ME UNTIL I WAS THREE YEARS OLD!
I don’t know if any other 90s kids feel my pain, but when I discovered that my mom was a FULL-ON 90s hippie, I freaked out.I grew up in Los Angeles but quickly moved away once the prospect of “New England liberal arts college” came into view. Then I moved to Italy and became a teacher so that I could live in Italy. But it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco to continue teaching that I made a new and disarming discovery: my mother had breastfed me until I was three. Maybe even three and a half.
At the time I was the head teacher of a preschool class of two and three-year olds. In September they were all wearing diapers, but by June they had all (mostly) been potty-trained. They could talk, walk, hurt each other, declare scientific truths, have empathy for each other; essentially, they were complete human beings.
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ONE OF MY STUDENTS WAS STILL BREASTFED AT THREE!
Then one day I learned that one of my students, then almost three-years old, was still being breastfed at home. Not many of the kids were, so this came as quite a surprise. It seemed so late. And I know I’m not a mom so nobody cares about my opinions on this yet, but really, by three years old they seem like adults. How could they still be suckling their mothers’ teat?
That afternoon my mom happened to call, and we exchanged all of the normal pleasantries. Then I started telling her about this kid I had in my class, the one who was still breastfeeding, and I gabbed and gabbed until I was done and I finally stopped talking. There was a moment of silence before she came out with it: you know, I breastfed you until you were three.
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WHAT!?! I WAS BREASTFED TILL THREE?!? THE HORROR
WHAT, I said. YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS. And then it all started rushing back. Getting home from some grocery store, exiting the car, asking for it. Laying in my mother’s arms, like a fucking hippie Pietà. I don’t remember what I called it, it probably had some special name *gag* and I really hope it wasn’t just “boobie.”
Listen. I want to breastfeed my kids, the ones I hope to eventually have. I believe in all the good things it does for the baby AND for the mom. But COME ON. Once a kid can ASK for it, it has gone far.
So I told my mother as much. I told her I was embarrassed. I told her I couldn’t believe she had done that. I told her I would NEVER have done that and that it was gross and obscene and dumb and probably some other stuff too.
She was silent. She was hurt. Then she called me a month later and asked that we each write out our memories of that time, of the breastfeeding years. She wants us to be able to see what the other remembers.
AWKWARD CONVO WITH MOMMY WON’T END FOR ONE YEAR, MAYBE
“Memories can change,” she said.
“Over time, sure,” I said, “but not because somebody just TELLS you to change them.”
“Well, Mommy what if we both write down what we remember and then we can go in and comment and make changes…?”
“I’m not doing that. But you can email me your thoughts and, when I receive them, we can talk about it.”
Then she pauses. For a moment.
“Ok,” she says. “I want to look back at some old journals though, so I’ll probably email you in about a year.”
That’s right. A YEAR. I’ll hear her thoughts in approximately one year. Well, at lease I have something to look forward to.