There is no perfect way to parent. Sometimes I want to shout that from the rooftops. THERE IS NO PERFECT WAY TO PARENT! You just have to do your best, you know? And most likely, you’re going to screw up a few times. You’ll bump their head while putting them in the car seat, or not realize they’ve been sleeping in soaked jammies from a full diaper. You’ll mis-understand their cries as whining, when they’re really hungry and just wait until they get older and you have to teach them life lessons. Whoa boy, does that leave a ton of room to screw up, I’m sure.

But the thing is, you figure it out. And you become the best parent you can be. It’s probably not the same type of parent your parents were, but if you’re lucky and you had good ones like I do, you have some great examples to follow.

I’ve found that sometimes I have to defend my parenting choices to people. Giving reasons for why I’m feeding him (or NOT feeding him) certain foods, explaining my reasons for the way I deal with night wakings or why I put Elmo’s World on YouTube during a screaming fit on a three-hour car ride. Most of the time I respond in a light, laughing manner when questioned because, why argue? It’s not their kid. But other times I feel like I really have to stand up for my choices.

Case in point: extended breastfeeding. Owen will be 11 months old next weekend and he’s still nursing like a champ. I had hoped to nurse him to a year to give him as much nutritional and developmental benefits from it as I could, and it looks like we will meet this goal. He’s always been a big nurser, both for food and for comfort, and up until recently, I really saw no end in sight for our breastfeeding relationship. The kid likes the boob.

Over the last month or so, however, I’ve noticed him slowly decreasing his time nursing, and today we’ve arrived at about a four times a day schedule. He nurses first thing in the morning, before both naps and again before bed. Sometimes there’s one or more sessions thrown in during the day depending on what’s going on (maybe he falls during a standing attempt and needs comfort, or whatever), and if he wakes at night I nurse him back down. He always lets me know if he wants to by grabbing at my shirt,rubbing his head on my chest, or pointing at my breast and saying with a laugh and a smile, “AH!!”

For us, 4-5 times a day is a major decrease. But to others, apparently this is shocking. You wouldn’t believe how many people have expressed surprise…and then concern!…when I tell them that he’s still nursing that often. “Four times a day? That’s a lot for almost a year!”

Says who?

I’ve read a lot about breastfeeding past a year and the decision of whether to wean or not. I understand and agree with points on both sides of the fence. I’m not totally ready to wean. As a matter of fact, on Mother’s Day, he refused my breast and wanted to be rocked to sleep instead. It was a little step of independence that left me dripping tears onto the top of his head, but in the end, it was what he wanted and it worked just fine. Sometimes he still does that, and other times he still nurses.

While I’m not TOTALLY ready to wean, I’m getting there. He has teeth now that often pinch and leave indentations on my areola (OW). He gets distracted and pulls off to look around or play with things. It makes it difficult for others to put him down for naps because he is so accustomed to our routine. My period has also yet to return, and while I’m not anxiously awaiting its arrival, I’m slowly starting to get the itch for another baby and would like to have a few cycles under my belt before we go down that road so I see how my cycle acts post-baby.

I’m letting him lead the way, and kind of using a “don’t offer, don’t refuse” nursing tactic that is common for weaning. If he wants to, he can, always.

So that’s what we’re doing. And it works for us. It’s not weird, it’s not abnormal, it’s just fine. Maybe I should refer people to this post when they express shock and concern over my baby still nursing, hmm? I know there are years ahead of us where people will question our parenting and I should just prepare myself for it, even though I can’t see how it’s anyone else’s business but ours. But I will also be less quick to judge other parent’s choices, that’s for sure!