asking for it

11 Jul

Everyone has a set of personal rules — even the most freewheeling of us have a stopping point, a place that makes us uncomfortable. Solid boundaries are one of my most prized possessions. I guard my set like the family silver, and I inherited it in much the same way I would’ve an heirloom. Nobody, but nobody, lasts thirty seconds in my family without firmly defined boundaries.
So, by and large, I respect other people’s, no matter how weird I may find them. I know they’re what keeps society chugging along. They’re the reason for all successful relationships. But there are some that just make my skin crawl, and I have been repeatedly faced with one in particular recently: The “when they can ask for it” rule. Those of you who breastfeed undoubtedly know to what I am referring. It’s the common rule among breastfeeding women that as soon as your baby can ask for milk, you ought to stop nursing. What was a nurturing, healthful bonding experience goes from sweet to capital G Gross with one word like a reinvention of your stupidest middle school crush: hopelessly devoted twelve year-old loves other twelve year-old madly until the latter shows interest and then…oh, nevermind.
A couple of weeks ago, after diligent fist opening-and-closing during every nursing sesh for months in an attempt to teach George his first sign, he did it… I think. The sign for milk. OH MY GOD! I shrieked. And got out my phone to record the event. He must’ve meant it because despite my alarming reaction, he did it again. And again. It was akin to the feeling I get when I find common ground with a person who doesn’t speak the same languages as I do. The fervent head bob and grin to say, “I understand!!!” But times a thousand million bajillion. The victorious feeling of being able to definitively communicate with my baby was liberating and validating and such a relief. One less thing to guess about.
So why would anyone deprive herself of this victory? Moreover, why would you punish your baby for finding common ground with you? Can you imagine the effort it took? I can’t. And (thankfully? unfortunately?) I don’t know anyone who believes in this practice well enough to say WTF? What is your rationale? I’m betting I’m better off not knowing. Anyway, there’s always PBR.

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2 Responses to “asking for it”

  1. Autumn July 11, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    GOSH. I cannot even comment hard enough (weird way of saying I affirm?) I hate hate hate this whole thing, I am SO excited for the day that Noele can ask and I can give- that will be incredible. I plan to nurse until she no longer wants it….my boundary with nursing?? No one over the age of 25…I kid, I kid. But no, seriously. We should talk boundaries, I have a book on it because it means that much to me. I like and love this post. Times a million. PS. This mojito might be stronger than I thought- pardon my punctuation mistakes please.

  2. Jess July 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    Congratulations! How very exciting!!

    We’ve started signing ‘milk’ with my (nearly) 3 month old son. Consistency and persistence seem the key, huh?

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