So I'm surprised to find myself nursing a 5 year old! I remember having a conversation with my cousins (4.5 years ago) where they said "yeah, when they're old enough to ask for it, it's time to wean." At that point, I was only nursing a 3 month old, but even then I knew enough about my kid to say something to the effect of "well, the only thing I know for sure about being a parent at this point is that I can't promise anything!" So yeah, 4.5 years later, we're still nursing...
It's actually still feeling really fine for the 2 of us, but I guess I'm just needing a little back up in the "yes, this is normal" department. I actually have good support here (I live in CA, have tons of friends who have breastfed up to 2 years old, almost all of my friends' kids were breastfed for at least a year, no problems ever NIP, etc), but I don't know anyone else in person who breastfed this long. I do "know someone who knows someone" who has nursed this long, which is better than most folks have I guess!
My daughter usually only nurses once a day (first thing in the morning) and she's gotten VERY good at asking politely (since she knows that I am a bear in the morning...she actually said one morning "don't go over there...that's snow white's stepmother"...and she wasn't that far off). Occasionally when she sees my younger daughter nursing, she'll ask to nurse then too and sometimes I say yes, and sometimes no, depending on how my energy level is (and my "getting climbed on" tolerance!). Whenever I put her to bed (which is rarely since my dh usually does that...he's awesome), she wants to nurse then too, but sometimes she falls asleep while we're reading and we just don't get to the nursing part.
She still LOVES it when she does get to nurse. I think it's more about the closeness than the milk (although she does still like the milk and wants to switch sides so that she gets more). I should ask her why she still likes it. She's always been a pretty intense kid (and her teacher things she may have some extremely mild sensory issues), and I'm guessing that has influenced her nursing drive from the beginning. She has always loved it.
At this point, I'd be fine if she did decide to wean--especially if it meant that she would accept cuddling a bit more! And I guess I do see that she's nursing less these days than 6 months ago and asking way less than a year ago (probably because she knows that during the day I'm usually too busy to say yes--I do make a point to say yes every morning...just like she makes a point to ask extremely politely and sometimes to be patient until I'm awake enough). So I see the progression, sort of. I guess it's just a bit hard occasionally to have faith that she will do this in her own time. And it does feel a bit weird (from society's point of view, not to me and my dd) that I'm nursing such an old child.
So yeah. IS this normal? WILL she really wean on her own? What signs can I look for that she IS really ready, and what kind of gentle nudges can I give her to help her give it up if she is ready? I'm sure it will be harder for her to stop nursing giving that her younger sister still "gets to," you know? It's like the power of suggestion every time we nurse. (The flip side of this is that I really believe that tandem nursing has helped her accept her new sister 1000% more easily than if she wasn't getting to nurse anymore.)
Thanks guys, I really appreciate that there are other real people out there (I assume y'all are real) who are nursing kids even older than mine. MWUH.