Long Live La Leche League! - Livin' the Good Life
May. 28th, 2013
11:43 am - Long Live La Leche League!
I don't know if it was because I was raised by parents who were "different", but I am completely comfortable with living and working outside the "norms" of society. When all the kids went to the nurse's office to get their vaccinations in my grammer school, I was sent out to the playground. I don't think anyone else in the school was exempted from shots except me, because I was alone out there. My parents did not believe in shots of any kind, so they opted out for me. I just knew that my mom and dad believed differently about many things than my friends' parents did, and I was OK with that. In fact, I felt special.
So, when I had children, it was natural for me to think outside the box. I was reading about childbirth and breastfeeding long before I became pregnant. In fact, I was interested in this stuff in my teens! I decided I'd breastfeed my babies when I was 12 years old. I remember the exact moment the decision was made. I sat next to a young women who was breastfeeding her baby. She let me watch. I'd never seen a woman breastfeed. Bottle-feeding was my only model growing up. I remember thinking, "Oh, I love this! I'm going to do this when I have a baby." I told my friends what my plans were, and they all said, "Ewww, gross!!" That did not deter me in the slightest.
I read Dr. Spock's Baby Book several times over the years. (I rejected the book later when I realized how wrong he was on many important things.) I read about childhood education when I was 18 and was already researching schools by visiting and volunteering in alternative schools. It was so FASCINATING to me! When I discovered John Holt and his books, HOW CHILDREN LEARN, and HOW CHILDREN FAIL, I was hooked. I was a devoted fan of his forever after. He single-handedly started the homeschooling movement, and I got onboard as soon as I became disillusioned with both the public and private schools that my kids attended.
When I discovered La Leche League, I knew I'd found my people. Some of the mothers I admire the very most were La Leche League leaders. They modeled a love for motherhood that I felt too. I was at home around them and trusted them with my kids. They modeled love, gentleness, and kindness and demonstrated knowledge and respect for the developmental stages that their kids were going through. They saw the humor in the whole childhood scene, which brought lightness, cheerfulness, and fun to it all. I loved being around mothers who loved being mothers and didn't want to miss any of it. I felt that way too.
La Leche is where I found and developed my community. I think mothers desperately need friends and companionship in the "mothering arena". La Leche members were more likely to be at home with their children and were available for friendship, phone calls, and face-to-face visits. Plus, they were inspiring. I learned about making my own bread from a stay-at-home mom who was working at making ends meet by making everything from scratch. I learned so much about being thrifty while feeding my family well. La Leche League people were more likely to join food co-ops, to buy natural foods in bulk... a new concept for me back then. Their motto was, "Your job is to stay home and SAVE money, not go out and MAKE money." I learned that lesson very well. I could make-do with very little and not feel deprived. In fact, I felt proud of myself. Growing gardens, raising and milking my own goats, raising chickens.... these were all inspired by my desire to be home with my children while "living the good life" of homesteading and providing the things that I believed were really important for our children.
It was so meaningful! So challenging and satisfying!
Last weekend I took Maya to her first La Leche League Conference in Newport Beach, CA. I was flooded with nostalgia to hear the speakers speak on my favorite topics, rub elbows with hundreds of breastfeeding families again, and feel that "right" kind of feeling that one gets as a contented mother. La Leche's motto of "people first" still rings loud and clear at Conferences, and it was a joy to witness it demonstrated all around me. I enjoyed seeing old friends I made in La Leche over 20 years ago. They were still there as conference managers, organizers and workers... even though they long ago retired from parenting. They are all grandmothers and great-grandmothers now, but they still believe in La Leche League and want to see it continue for future generations. I admire that. They are my heros.
Long live La Leche League and what it stands for.