" From one mother to another, I am writing to express my thanks. You see, I nurse my older child too, but I'm not as brave as you are and not that many people in my ‘real life’ know about it. I don't talk about it openly because I'm too scared of what the fallout might be. I know a lot of people would say what I'm doing is icky, or unnecessary, and others would believe I'm doing the wrong thing by continuing to nurse my child. They wouldn't be slow to tell me either! Some people might even accuse me of abusing my child by not weaning them. I know those people are just ignorant of the facts and have no clue what they're talking about, but it's very hurtful nonetheless.
I've watched the TV interviews and listened to the phone-ins. I've read the articles, and I've even made the mistake of reading some of the comments underneath. I know you must be taking a lot of flack for talking openly about allowing your child to self-wean. I can't imagine how it must feel to be in your shoes, but I want to express my thanks to you for putting yourself 'out there' and talking openly about sustained breastfeeding. I want to thank you for being braver than I am.
Please know that I support you and what you have tried to do by speaking out. I know you're just doing your best as a mum. I am too. I realise that some of your words may have been taken out of context - I know how the press can twist things. Maybe you aren't entirely happy with how you were portrayed, and that must be infuriating. I know you're not trying to tell other people how to live. I know you're not trying to make anyone else feel bad by talking about your own experiences of parenting and I know you're not 'doing it for yourself'. I know how tough nursing an older child can be, because I do it too. I also know you're not the 'attention seeker' that some people are trying to make you out to be, you're just standing up for something you believe in. I know that you're not continuing to nurse because you're a mother who 'can't let go'. I know you're not doing it because you want your child to be dependant on you but actually because you believe it will make them MORE independent in the long run. I know because I am in the same boat.
I must admit to feeling a little guilty though. Part of me thinks that if I were braver and more willing to talk about how things are in my own family then *I* could help debunk a few of the horrible myths about sustained nursing too. After all, everyone's different. The media often tries to stereotype or 'pigeon-hole' mums, but the truth is that my family is not like yours and I am not the same as you. We do have this in common though, this shared experience.
Despite all the rude, derogatory, insulting and uneducated comments you have probably been subjected to, I want you to know that you really HAVE made a positive difference in the world. Because of you more people know that sustained nursing is possible. Others have had their preconceptions challenged, and some folk will even have learnt something. Because of you more people now know that it isn't necessary to wean their child and that allowing them to wean themselves is an option. Some mothers who felt lonely before don't feel so alone now.
Things are changing. Okay so they're changing slowly, but a generation further down the line I don't believe sustained nursing will be as counter-cultural it is right now. Some of the thanks for that will have to go to you.
So THANK YOU for being willing to stick your head above the parapet, for talking honestly about your experiences, and for your bravery. Thank you for being willing to tough it out at the front.x anne"
If you feel you want to add your 'signature' to this letter and show your support for the women who have put themselves forward to talk publicly about sustained nursing, then please leave a comment below. Even if you don't feel able to 'come out of the closet' it would be great to see a show of hands... Anonymous comments are fine.