I am a big believer in CLW. I truly am. I have a very strict definition of CLW that most people will fall short of. I, for example, am one of those people.
Just because you can recognize, define and aspire to an ideal does not mean that you will, or must, live that ideal. I think that concept is one of the hardest things for mothers to let go of. We want the very best for our children. When we actually *know* what the very best is, it's hard to forgive yourself for not giving it to them. But sometimes the cost of "the best" is not a price we can pay, kwim?
Reading these posts really made me think of something I have not thought of in quite this way before. You know, I tend to discount "child led" weanings that occur as a direct result of a pregnancy. I tend to think, "well, would that child really
have weaned if there was more milk, mom wasn't so tired, mom wasn't so sore, etc...?" But I've never really considered the flip side of the coin as much... "Would that child really
have kept nursing if there was no longer milk, if they weren't reminded of it constantly by a younger nursing sibling, etc...?" When you're talking about four+ year olds, there is a good chance they would have had access to much LESS milk had they not had a younger sibling. That they would have forgotten it slowlly over time if they didn't see someone else nursing with their
mom 10-15 times a day. That they would have tired of having to work so hard, for such little reward that they may have weaned happily days, weeks, months, for some children even years earlier.
Because the OP placed this plea in CLW instead of Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy, I have to assume that she *wants* to continue. And if you do, that is wonderful. And you know what, if you don't, that's wonderful too. Please give yourself permission to say, "Enough. I have given what I can give" and end the relationship. Have you given any thought to how you would like to end it? Have you talked to your child? Do they want a party, a special time between the two of you, one last long nursing...?
If you want to continue, I would encourage you to think about what you need to gain and what you hope to get rid of. Write it down. What behaviors are especially abhorant to you and which ones would you actually like to keep? Because sometimes if you can get rid of some of the things that are really bothering you, you realize that the other things suddenly don't seem as bad. Of course, given all of your nursing experience, you all already know this. You've been, I'm sure, through numerous ups and downs, and strikes and 24 hour nursing marathons. If you've made it these many years, you probably know if you've really reached the end of your rope, and if you have--- Good job. You did great to make it that long. Try to make the ending a positive experience for both you and your nursling and take comfort that you did the very best you