On Nursing A Toddler: Why That TIME Mom Could Be Me

TIME breastfeeding attachment parenting cover

As a mom who still breastfeeds, I’ve learned to never say never when it comes to motherhood.

You see, nursing isn't just about nutrition. It's comfort. It's quiet time. It's stealing snuggles from a child who is otherwise always on the go. It's a special bond that no one in the world can match. It's enjoying every single minute of this precious period of her life, because one day very soon, she will begging me for independence, a cell phone, and the keys to my car. But for now, all she wants is for me to hold her close to my breast. And how can I rush it along or wish that away?

Of course, there is another person in our relationship, my husband. He has always been supportive of me breastfeeding. His only response when I ask him how he feels about the fact that I am still nursing is "just don't get too crazy." Although he was amused to see our baby at my breast while she was standing, I'm thinking this cover photo of Jamie Lynne Grumet nursing her 3-year-old son is his idea of too crazy. He probably shouldn't worry. I have hopes of having another child before our daughter is three and I don't see her remaining interested in nursing through a pregnancy and sharing me with a new baby. Though it could be me. After a year of parenting, I know better than to say never.

I also know that I am not looking forward to the negative backlash this photo will receive. Men and women who aren't yet parents, as well as guilty mothers who never breastfed, were encouraged to wean early, or never had any interest in it at all are always good for bashing extended nursing.  

For those readers, I'd like to remind them of the reasoning behind this photo, As photographer Martin Schoeller explains, he "liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation." It is uncommon to see a woman nurse her toddler. But that doesn't mean it's an uncommon occurrence. Or that it's wrong. We often see mothers nursing their tiny babes, all bundled close and covered up. I think it's very important to see that in many homes, nursing looks more like this and that's normal too.

HuffPost predicts it will "turn heads and draw gasps from readers." And to that I say fine, just as long as there are a few readers who walk away with a completely different attitude on nursing beyond babyhood.