Twenty-Five Year Leader Gathering
Susan Prevatt Waterman
Rockville MD USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 6, December 2005-January 2006, p. 128.
The 2005 LLLI Conference in Washington DC is now a warm memory in my heart, but my soul is forever filled by the sights, sounds, events, and friendships from that Conference.
On July 4th the Alumnae Association hosted a 25-year Leader gathering in the Cabinet Room of the Hilton. Leaders from all over the world who have been with La Leche League 25 years or more were invited to come and share their LLL stories so that we might record them in history. Little did I know I would be drawn deep into this group, given the honor of recording their stories, and be given the gift of writing this bit of history.
As each Leader entered the room, she was given a piece of paper that matched a color on each table or chair grouping. We were hoping we would mix people up, keep friends from sitting with friends, family from sitting with family. We wanted to open up our Leaders' stories to a brand new group. Well, it so happened at my table, there were Leaders who went way back, who had led together, been friends, and knew each other's children. Our mix-up plan was not to be.
During the course of about an hour I heard mother-daughter-sister Leader stories. I heard stories of having Mary White stay overnight with another Leader. I heard how an LLLI Medical Advisor diagnosed pink eye in a Leader and how that Leader and her co-Leader treated it with human milk and the good doctor pronounced it cured the next day. I heard stories of sadness about a time when a co-Leader died of cancer and later sadness turned into joy when the two families were reunited by marriage. Stories of weddings and funerals, birth and death, life and love. And all these stories were told through the eyes of La Leche League. Love was evident in each and every woman and her tales. Their lives had become so woven with La Leche League they were one. Loving guidance is no longer a concept but a way of life. Nursing is for love and comfort, not simply the giving of milk. Parenting is done with love and patience instead of frustration. The 25-year Leaders know what it means to belong to La Leche League and to give back what the organization has given them. They are also warm, kind, and funny. And very human. I saw them embrace each other and give sympathy for events that might have been long forgotten. I saw them shed tears learning of long ago struggles and victories. I saw them come together, some as strangers and some as longtime friends, but leave this gathering as if they were longtime co-Leaders. I know they will continue to grow and learn and support each other and La Leche League for the next 25 years, and will help ensure that La Leche League will be there for the children and grandchildren to come.
The 25-year Leaders gathering was truly an event to cherish and remember. My short story is but a glimpse into the stories these wonderful women shared. And these stories will be written into the history of La Leche League International and shared for generations to come.
Susan Prevatt Waterman has been active in La Leche League since her first child was born in 1978, and was an active Leader from 1991 until 1996. Susan writes, "The birth of my first grandson brought me back to La Leche League about a year and a half ago and I have been active with my local Group and the Alumnae Rejuvenation Group at this last Conference as co-chair." She lives in Rockville, Maryland, USA and is the Associate Coordinator of Leader Accreditation for Maryland/Delaware/DC.