We live in a society that is geared to achieve and strive and do, without pausing and reflecting and celebrating. In the past, I did the same. When we don’t pause or grieve or celebrate, we devoid life of meaning…
In a society that has forgotten how to celebrate rites of passage, it takes a conscious decision to make these transitions important.
I have reached one of these rites of passage very recently.
“My daughter turned four and we decided that it was time to end the night and morning breastfeeding.”
This is a huge transition in the life of a child and a mother that is not even acknowledged by society.
Still breastfeeding at the age of four??!!
Yes, not ‘normal’, I know. The UNICEF and World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until at least 2 years of age. I have heard of studies that show it is natural (not normal of course) to feed children until the milk teeth fall out as this is in line with mammal animals.
At age 2, Tara and I were definitely not done with ‘her’ boobie. Until age 3, the child is still part of the etheric matrix of the mother, before the natural separation begins and an independent sense of self is emerging and maturing.
But even at the age of 3, we were not ready to separate in this way. Approaching Tara’s 4th birthday, my body told me that it was time to let her go. It was no longer enjoyable for me. In fact it felt depleting, inconvenient and disruptive to what my body needed. Whilst I enjoyed the closeness, my body wisdom knew that a new phase of life was emerging.
Her fourth birthday was approaching and we replaced breast milk with a bottle. All went well for about a week or so, when Tara started to negotiate to have morning feed to transition back into her body after the nights sleep. I gave in.
Another few weeks went past, when she started crying at night, really missing her boobie. This broke my heart. She seemed really upset.
I realised that I was giving my daughter mixed signals. Whilst my words were saying ‘no more’. Energetically, I was feeling guilty for taking her favourite comfort away. I had some inner work to do in order to be fully aligned in my decision not just on the mental and physical, but also on the emotional and spiritual plane.
Being a life coach with deep awareness of the spiritual contract, I had the tools to go on this inner journey, uncover the underlying fears and release them. When that process was complete, I talked to Tara again the following night.
We did a little ceremony where she gave boobie a cuddle and a kiss and thanked it for all the milk it gave or over the last four years. I explained that she was entering into a new phase in her life and was becoming a big girl. This time, my message was congruent and she could feel it.
What ensued was four mornings and four nights of whinging, crying, deep upset and attempted negotiations to test my resolve. On day five, she woke up happily and enjoyed a morning cuddle without any mention of boobie. All was well.
But this transition phase was accompanied by a reorientation. We had increased tantrums and power struggles, as Tara was finding her new identity and new ways of receiving the closeness and comfort that she had previously received from breastfeeding. She demanded attention in a dysfunctional way. Reading the signs beneath her angry and argumentative behaviour, I made sure we had lots of cuddles, so her need for closeness could be met that way.
The breastfeeding has given Tara an amazing start in life.
Breastfeeding increases brain cell development, boosts the immune system and the extended closeness to mum gives toddlers a heightened sense of self and security that fosters confidence and independence.
I am celebrating that I didn’t give up when I had breastfeeding problems when Tara was a newborn. Breastfeeding didn’t come easy, with both children. I had several trips to the childcare nurse with bleeding, torn and infected nipples wondering how I could improve the feeds. I was determined to get through the initial challenges and after many tears, deep breaths and holding on to a very strong ‘Why’, eventually it became easier.
People often think that extended breastfeeding is just for the enjoyment and pleasure of the mother.
In the eyes of many critics, extended breastfeeding becomes sexualised and selfish. I know of women who secretively feed their toddlers in the toilets to avoid judgement from onlookers. For me, that was never an option. I proudly stood by my decision to let Tara determine when she wanted to wean herself off and never encountered any criticism, just admiration and praise.
In the end, Tara’s need for the breast milk became a preference and habit. At the same time, my preference to stop a year prior, became a very strong need if I wanted to prevent her from sucking the life force out my body. So, whilst I had wanted this to be a child-led process, in the end, I had to make a decision to keep my sanity and life-force.
Ultimately, each mother will follow her gut and intuition to know what is best for her and her child and there is no one-fit all solution.
Four days in, my breasts began feeling heavy and full. I had been so focused on making this decision work for Tara, that I had neglected my own process of grieving, letting go and saying good bye.
Now that my body was still producing milk, I was reminded to bring the focus back to myself.
I held my full breasts and started crying. Finally!
She has been grieving every night for the past four nights and now it was my turn to honour and celebrate the ending of a wonderful cycle of life.
The tears were triggered by this thought that my body was creating something I was withholding from Tara. But what a wonderful metaphor. It made me reflect on the abundance of life. Whenever there is demand, there is supply, that is the nature of the universe. Every vacuum will be filled and it is only our fears, that make us step out of this flow in our lives and move into separation.
I could really feel the truth of this in my body. The truth of abundance.
My tears of grief quickly transformed into tears of release and then tears of sadness that we don’t allow ourselves to grieve. That women do this weaning process in isolation. For many it is traumatic. But we often don’t acknowledge this because we don’t live in a society that acknowledges and celebrates rites of passage and the transition from one cycle into the next.
Now I was pausing to acknowledge the transition. I am finding it hard to put into words what I was feeling. The word fullness came into my field. There was a softening. It’s not as extreme as ‘reclaiming’ because I have been loving and massaging my breasts throughout the past few years. But it feels similar. There is also an opening.
I am also noticing there is a lot of aliveness in my breasts, they are becoming sensory beings. If I tune into the energy before, it was more of an inward energy, because they were focusing on reproducing milk. Now, there is an abundance in the breasts, a fullness and the focus can go outwards. They are like two eyes, two guardians of my heart… this is interesting. They are alive, in flow and tingling with life force.
It is my desire that every woman can reclaim the rites of passage in her life and honour each stage of life, each cycle of life, without driving from one achieved goal to the next in this linear way of being. The feminine life in particular is one of cyclical flow, not one of linear drive. May we always remember this and tap into this inner wisdom that is reflected in the external world through the moon cycles and seasons.
Krystal Alexander-Hille has guided women for the past ten years to drop into alignment with their feminine flow, their passion and soul purpose. Coming from a soul lineage of High Priestesses, she is an international channel of the divine feminine, author, speaker, mentor and workshop facilitator.
Originally from Germany, now living in Australia, Krystal is trained as a Life Coach, certified NLP practitioner and Reiki Master. With additional studies with numerous spiritual and tantric teachers from around the world, she combines her life-experience, cosmic awareness and training into powerfully transformative individual sessions, workshops, podcast interviews and live-talks. You can contact her through her website: www.goddessreawakening.com.