Earlier this month, I left my three kids at home with my husband for a weekend away. I had three big goals for the weekend: get ahead on work, get a little extra sleep, and stop breastfeeding.
Yep, the entire timing of my weekend away was planned around me being so ready to wean and knowing that being away from my 14-month-old son might be the easiest way to make it happen.
I’ve felt kind of weird about how the whole thing went down, to be honest. When my husband finally got home from work on that Friday night, I practically dashed out the door after a quick kiss and hug from each kid. I felt like I was supposed to be nervous or upset about the idea of leaving my youngest overnight for the first time. I felt like I should feel hesitant about weaning him, but I just wasn’t.
My youngest might be my last baby. He might be my last child to nurse and wean. And, instead of feeling nostalgic and hesitant about nursing, I mostly feel relieved that this phase is over. I’m just so ready to be done. I’m ready to not be the only parent on duty for nighttime wakings. I’m ready to wear what I want without taking into consideration whether or not he’ll have easy access to milk. I’m ready to have a little more say over who touches me and when.
Breastfeeding gets romanticized. Time and time again, I’ve seen pictures posted online under the hashtag #beautifulbfing and felt that I must be doing something wrong, because it’s much harder than I ever expected it to be. It was difficult to share my body for nine months of pregnancy and then another year and change of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding had never been beautiful for me– it was mostly sweaty, sticky, and exhausting.
And over time, it became harder for me to enjoy, especially as my son became mobile. The wrestling to nurse uninterrupted, the fight against constant distractions, the trying to tell him no when we’re out and about all became too frustrating for me.
I wanted to do what was best for my son, but I was growing annoyed and a little resentful. I realized that extended breastfeeding was only best for my son if I was on board too. Weaning was the only thing that would free our relationship from the tension caused by him wanting to breastfeed and me wanting to say no.
So, I talked it over with my husband and I booked an Airbnb. I made plans with friends who are artists and writers to spend an entire weekend to focus on our work. I packed my bag, nursed my son one last time, and set out for a weekend away.
Here’s the honest truth. My son didn’t wean that weekend. I was disappointed, but that weekend away, was the first step towards weaning. Within two more weeks, we were done for good.
I’m going to be frank; I looked forward to weaning and now that the deed is done, I’m thrilled. My son and I still have plenty of time to cuddle and play, but I’m happy to say that breastfeeding is part of our past. Parenting is full of different phases– some of them we love, while we’re happy to see others planted firmly in the past. It’s okay to look forward to the end of a phase– even one as romanticized as breastfeeding.