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A Secure Place

Shari Herrick
Dallas TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 6, November-December 2003, pp. 216

Some people say that I give my children too much and myself too little. Children have many needs, but I get a great deal of fulfillment from my role as a mother, especially since I know that it is the most important job that I'll ever have.

Some people also say that I am making my children more dependent on me than is good for them. Some people think that breastfeeding a child beyond a year is an attempt by the mother to fulfill her own needs for attachment and that this is detrimental to the child's ability to form an identity separate from the mother. I disagree. By breastfeeding a toddler, I am allowing my child to achieve her independence on her own terms. I am not putting pressure on her to detach from me just because her attachment has become too burdensome, and I'm ready to have more freedom from her dependence. Some days I feel very overwhelmed by the needs of my still-nursing daughter, Shannon. I dream that one day she will wake up and never ask to breastfeed again. But, I also feel very emotional about that day. I love to be able to provide her with this special nurturing that is so satisfying. The love that she's getting by breastfeeding is obvious in her joyful expression. When she's feeling insecure, the first thing she wants is to breastfeed. It's her way of feeling assured of her place in my arms. I am fulfilling her need and desire to continue to feel connected to me in a way that is very comforting to her.

To experience breastfeeding a toddler is to understand how profound the connection is between a mother and child. My continued nursing of Shannon is a way in which I express to her my commitment to her as her mother. I am available for her because I deeply believe that this is what she needs from me in order to grow into an emotionally strong and healthy person. I feel that continuing to be available for my children will help them to be secure about their places in the world and their worthiness as individuals. I want my children to always know that I accept them and love them unconditionally. They need only be themselves. I have faith that they will grow up to be phenomenal people just as I believe that they are presently phenomenal little people.

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