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What We Are About

Nan Vollette
Hampton VA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 1, February-March 2002, pp. 8-9.

We are about “helping mothers,” and through our monthly meetings, we attempt to accomplish that mission….With every call we receive, and every meeting we facilitate, we have made a difference in the life of a mother or mother-to-be.

Recently, I attended a well-known and respected support group meeting with a dear friend; it was much like what we in LLL provide to breastfeeding mothers or women interested in learning about breastfeeding. I was amazed at how the group functioned and reached out to its members. I found myself watching closely how the facilitator guided the group. I observed the process of supportive communication unfold as the meeting moved on. The facilitator began with his opening statement and set the format with the participants offering topics they wanted to discuss. The members then began sharing and reaching out to each other in the most incredible way. There were no judgments made, and there were none received. The participants reflected what was shared, offering support and compassion to those in attendance.

It was a very moving experience for me and I was drawn to making the comparison between this group and the support we offer in LLL. I wondered how the facilitator felt after the meeting. Did he think it went well? Were the needs of the group met? I noticed the members making a point to introduce themselves to new attendees during refreshment time. The facilitator also made his rounds to welcome new participants. It was so familiar to me and so gratifying to see another organization offer its members those very qualities we hold so dear: connection, sharing, and acceptance!

I welcome the chance to learn, share, and grow with all of you through this column. Of my six children, the first five are daughters and three of them have children of their own. My girls have been attending LLL meetings all of their lives, and now as adults, see the value in the kind of kinship we share. My fourth daughter is beginning her application for leadership. I feel honored to witness that cycle continuing. My family has experienced LLL telephone calls at all hours. They have been there when meetings were canceled because of illness, or location sites changed at the last minute. My daughters know more about plugged ducts and positioning than they will ever need to know. Through all of this, our families see what motivates us to continue on this path. We hope we have left them with the understanding of who we are.

We are about “helping mothers,” and through our monthly meetings, we attempt to accomplish that mission. I want this first column to be that boost we all need occasionally, affirming the work we do. With every call we receive, and every meeting we facilitate, we have made a difference in the life of a mother or mother-to-be. Our unconditional support of that mother for whatever decision she chooses to make is our strength. Our ability to simply be there and listen is the tool that can make breastfeeding a positive experience for a new mother. When she leaves an LLL meeting, chances are very high that her life will never be quite the same. This sounds lofty and grand, doesn’t it? But, we are doing it every day all over the world. We are our own “movers and shakers” in the parenting world. All we are really doing is giving mothers support, and offering them safe place to learn, examine ideas, and find what will work for them.

As with the other support group meeting I attended, we meet the needs of those in attendance at our meetings. We begin by acknowledging that every woman present is coming from a different lifestyle and place in her life. We know that only she understands the needs of her family and we are only here to offer ideas and mother-to-mother sharing. We may know the technical facts, and the whys and wherefores of breastfeeding, but the richness of the support system is the camaraderie that is found at a meeting. Despite the variety of backgrounds we represent we have found a common cause and a common desire to learn, and share our knowledge and experiences with breastfeeding. It is this kind of mothering that has drawn us together.

The nature of the support group is to have the attendees leave feeling enriched, or “heard,” in a safe place. She may find a “home,” or just have her instincts confirmed by the group. This group communication is the foundation of our LLL meetings. There is certainly more to facilitating a meeting, but what is our “intent” when we begin? Remembering what we offer and the uniqueness of La Leche League support is where our roots are firmly planted.

Smile when you are on your way to your next LLL meeting, you are about to make a profound difference in someone’s life.

With this issue, Nan Vollette joins the volunteer staff of Leaven as the Contributing Editor for this column. She is Administrator for Communication Skills Development (CSD) for LLLI’s International Division (ID) and is currently serving on the Grievance Commission. She has been a Leader since 1980 and has six children and three grandchildren. Submissions for the “Helping Mothers” column may be sent to Nan at: 132 Powhatan Pkwy, Hampton, VA 23661 USA, or to vollette at (email).

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