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A MOTHER'S DAY VIGNETTE

Giving Children More Than They Ask For

When one of my friends discovered that I pack lunches for my teenage children every morning before school, even though I am also rushing to leave for work, she was horrified. "They're old enough to be making their own lunches," she said. "You shouldn't do things for them that they can do for themselves."

Yes, they can make their own lunches-and other meals, too-and they often do if I am kept late at work or am busy in other ways. They also do their own laundry and help around the house. But making their lunches is one way I can give them more than they have asked for-and I've come to believe that this kind of giving is an important way of demonstrating love.

I first discovered this principle when my oldest son, Matthew, was about 13 months old and I was pregnant again. I was feeling tired and sick much of the time, and tending to my rambunctious toddler wore me out even more. By bedtime, I'd fall asleep exhausted, only to be awakened three or four times every night by his persistent requests for "nummies." In the morning I often felt even more exhausted than I had when I'd gone to bed.

My friends, relatives, and physician all had the same solution: wean him. I knew I had to do this gradually, so I tried to distract him when he seemed to be thinking about nursing, arming myself with a repertoire of toys, songs, and games, as well as appealing snacks and treats. When I did nurse him, I would try to end it quickly, saying, "All done now!" And he did cut down his daytime nursing-only to step up the frequency at night.

Next I tried to discourage him from nursing at night by gently saying, "No" or "Nummies are sleeping now," and rubbing his back, in the hope that he would go back to sleep. But the more I tried to push him away, the more desperate to nurse he became. After a few weeks of this, he was nursing five or six times a night, instead of just three or four, and I was worn out from all my efforts to distract him.

Finally, one night I said to him, "I'm going to nurse you so much you won't be able to stand it." During the day, instead of trying to distract him, I began to offer nursings frequently. If he so much as looked at me, I lifted up my shirt! Any sign of tension or fussiness brought an offer to nurse. At night I slept topless so that he would have easy access whenever he wanted to nurse. And instead of trying to keep his time at the breast short, I'd cuddle with him, talk lovingly to him, and let him nurse as long as he wanted. In fact, if he let go, I'd ask him if he wanted any more.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE -->Written by: Teresa Pitman. From Mothering Magazine.


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