Ever since I started breastfeeding, I’ve had the day I inevitably stop on my radar. It seems like, just when we get the hang of breastfeeding, weaning comes into the picture; not necessarily because you want it to, but because you know it’s inevitable. Kind of like how when a new Justin Timberlake album finally drops, I know that once I start listening it will eventually end. When the dreaded/celebrated day gets close, a partner’s reaction to weaning can be an important part of the process, especially when that partner is a cisgender male who can't possibly understand what it's like to breastfeed and, eventually, stop.
Even with things that, on the surface, have nothing to do with my partner or involve a situation he can fully experience in the same way I can, I still find ways to involve him and lean on him and benefit from his presence. Parenting isn't a one-person job (even if you don't have a parenting partner) and when you are going through an experience you, and only you, can comprehend, there are still things a partner can do to make that experience more enjoyable, or even just manageable.
In these moments, and when I’m considering weaning very seriously and emotionally, I ask for him to be there for me. Whether he's distracting our child so I can have a few peaceful moments to really think it through, or I'm bouncing ideas off him so I can really dissect what it is I'm thinking, and why; my grown-ass man of a partner plays a big role in breastfeeding and it's inevitable end. If your partner is anything like mine, here are a few thing he'll say when you start thinking about weaning:
I'm not trying to suggest that a dad doesn't have a say in how his child is fed, but I am trying to suggest that the person doing the weaning has more say on the topic of weaning.
"I Respect Your Choice"
Weaning can be a complicated choice (or a non-choice, depending on the situation), so my partner's support is crucial. If he gave my decision anything other than respect, it'd make a tough scenario even tougher, and everyone knows we don't need that when there's a toddler in the room.
"What Can I Do?"
He's like, "Oh, hey, you're weaning? Can I offer you a back rub? A foot rub? A regularly scheduled high-five during the points of the day when you used to sit down to breastfeed?"
"You've Done An Awesome Job"
No matter how long a mom has breastfed, she's done awesome. Trust me.
"How Do YOU Feel About It?"
I'd wager that most grown-ass men know to check in and explicitly ask how their partner is feeling about weaning, but a little reminder never hurt anyone.
"You're A Fantastic Mom Whether Or Not You're Breastfeeding"
Since breastfeeding typically starts when motherhood starts, deciding to stop can make one think about her identity as a mom; at least, it has for me. Perhaps some moms out there are super-secure in this area, but I super-appreciate my husband's reassurance that just because I'm done breastfeeding, doesn't mean I'm dong being a loving, caring mother who nurtures her children.
"Here's A Giant Glass Of Wine That You Can Drink With Whatever Proximity To Our Son’s Next Feeding Session That You Want"
To be followed up closely by, "And there's several more bottles in the fridge."