By Nicole Paitsel, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
When I’m feeling like an especially good mom, I browse the Internet mommy forums after my 15-month-old son goes to bed. That’s what I was doing one evening when I came across a discussion thread about bottles.
“Should my son be fully weaned off the bottle by now?” a mom of a 1-year-old asked the group.
“Uh-oh,” I thought, as my stomach knotted up. I had completely forgotten the pediatrician’s recommendation to transition from a bottle to a sippy cup.
Dozens of moms shot back answers, and my anxiety grew when one mom said she took away the bottle and the pacifier after her children’s first birthdays.
And I was just thinking I was mom of the year because I had baked cookies after work.
But the bottle is so much more than a tool for nourishment. It’s the outward sign that my little boy is still a baby; that he still needs me to cuddle him while he suckles milk.
And baba time is special. It’s the only time Brody will sit in my lap long enough to drink, giggle and coo. It’s the first thing we do in the morning, and the last thing we do at night. It’s when I get to hold him the tightest and the longest, and it’s when I steal a few moments to make plans for his future.
It may be a cliche experience, but it’s one I can’t stand to part with, just yet.
We almost made the transfer from bottle to cup in a fit of early morning agitation, though. It was my husband’s turn to get up with the baby — we’re on an every-other-day rotation — when the sound of calamity broke through my sleep.
Brody’s breakfast — he always takes his milk in a glass bottle — had slipped from Duane’s grasp and exploded on the ceramic tile. Duane was trying desperately to keep Brody’s fingers and toes out of the splintery mess, clean up the milk and avoid cuts himself.
I considered the chaotic scene to be a sign.
“Don’t worry, this is as good a time as any to try out milk in the sippy cup,” I told Duane.
A few forced sips and Brody pushed the cup away. We repeated this dance for a little over an hour before I gave up.
Since then, I’ve introduced a milk sippy cup — Brody is already proud to carry a water-filled sippy cup — a few half-hearted times. He drinks begrudgingly, and I am miserable.
With the cup, Brody wants to run around, not sit quietly with his mom. He doesn’t take the time to look at me and coo, and I can forget the special snuggles.
Of course, there are times when I am begging Brody to gain a little independence. He’s a naturally clingy child, and the constant presence of aunts, uncles, nanas and papas mean that Brody has hardly spent a moment alone.
The newest incarnation of his companionship requirement is in the form of hand-holding. Wherever he goes, Brody tightly holds the finger of the nearest adult — not because he can’t walk on his own, but because he can’t stand to have a solo experience.
I have to remind myself as I’m being pulled from room to room that one day he’ll push me away. In fact, that day came eerily close recently when he grabbed his Transformer lunch box, waddled to the front door, turned around and waved “bye bye.” Fighting tears and feeling silly about it, I ran over and grabbed his hand.
As for the bottle, it’s been about two months since the mommy forums reminded me to wean my son off of them. I haven’t been back to chat since.
Next week: First-time dad Mark St. John Erickson takes on a new adventure with his son, Owen.