Breastfeeding Toddlers – a Diary of Dodging Judgement
This Poem was published in Musings on Mothering an anthology of poetry dedicated to Motherhood by Mother’s Milk Books.
January. Late morning. Snow!
Nowhere to be… so back to bed we go.
Mummy’s milk, a story. Another one. A few!
A back and tummy tickle then napping till two.
Sunday. Guests. Table and roast.
Wine for the rabble but water for the host.
Pouring gravy with one hand, holding daughter with the other.
She chews me. I chew the fat. I am a super mother!
Mid-week. Dead of night. Oh! No! Awake.
Cow-heavy, tired. I lie and grumble-ache
Sucking on the left, squeezing on the right
Does she really need to pinch and suckle through the night?
Hot. The Underground. Sweating pits and brow
Thirsty daughter pulling blouse. I whisper. Please! Not now!
Pick her up and snuggle her close in to my chest.
Lady opposite smiles at me – so – frankly – sod the rest!
May. Lunchtime. Busy department store
Tired and angry toddler sprawled across the floor
Whoops. Bad timing. Scoop my breast out fast.
Remonstrating glances from the shoppers walking past.
Summers day. The Playground. Picnic for her tea.
Kamikaze-head-first down the slide comes she
A revving engine startles her. Suddenly she’s here
For a little bit of num num to allay her fear.
Twilight. After bath. My favourite time of day.
Upstairs to my bedroom, it’s time to ‘hit the hay’
Hair-brushed and pink-pyjamered. I lay her down to rest.
Her blanket is my dressing gown, her pillow is my breast.
Darkness. Stillness. She’s let go into sleep
But my eyes fast upon my daughter’s face I keep.
I love this moment most of all. In trance I guard her rest.
It’s here beside her on the bed that I feel truly blessed.
Drat! Lunch with the in-laws. Must try to keep them in.
Wear high-roll, buttoned polo-neck to cover up my skin.
During tea, she lunges, the polo-neck’s rolled up.
Aghast, my in-law father splutters shortbread in his cup.
September, Friday. School assembly hall
Surreptitious feeding underneath my shawl
I hate myself for sneaking. I feel pathetic. Weak.
Why can’t I proudly breastfeed without feeling like a freak.
November. Her birthday. Another threshold. Three!
At times with toddler-feeding, I have felt lost at sea.
It’s mostly done at home now – after nursery, before bed.
But we still sleep together; nose to nose and head to head.
End of year. Close of poem. Breastfeeding yet to cease.
I trust her need and know my heart and that’s what brings me peace.