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Why La Leche League Makes Me Smile

Nancy Mailman
Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia, Canada
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 5, October-November 2002 p. 103.

The mothers who join our La Leche League Groups are not the only ones who benefit from LLLI membership. Leaders do, too! The following article was written by Nancy Mailman for the August 2001 issue of Canadian Collage. Remember Nancy’s observations when it’s time to renew your own membership! —Connie Boord, Contributing Editor

There comes a time in many Leaders’ lives when they wonder if they should continue in La Leche League. The children are older and no longer breastfeeding; her interests have shifted from the focus on breastfeeding perhaps to activities involving older children. The Leader might attend an Area Conference and see other Leaders there with 15 years of experience (or even longer) and wonder why they stayed active in LLL for so long.

Acquaintances outside LLL circles wonder the same about me. Recent events in our organization have caused me to reflect and search within to find the reasons I have devoted over 20 years of my life to LLL.

The response is simple, really. I have come to the conclusion that there are very few organizations that could give me what this one has. The skills I have attained have been used frequently in other areas of my life. What I have learned from this organization, from the women who have been my mentors, has stood me in good stead, from my life as a mother to my life working outside the home.

People have said to me, "I wish I had your ability to talk to large groups of people at meetings." I smile, and remember that what brought me to that comfort level was leading my first LLL meeting; then speaking on a panel for the first time at an Area Conference; then leading my first local Conference Committee meeting; then, as Area Conference Supervisor, speaking to a few hundred families who attended opening and closing sessions at an Area Conference in Atlantic Canada; then introducing speakers at the LLLC national Conference.

Friends wonder how I can organize things so well. I smile and think of the fundraisers I helped coordinate for our local LLL Group—how I organized my life around two small children and ran a Group as a lone Leader during that time. I also think about how I facilitated the organization of the first Area Conference as a Local Conference Chairman while in training to be an Area Conference Supervisor—how I organized my life around family, outside work, and assisting with Conference preparations to help Leaders across Canada.
Others ask me how I learned to put my thoughts together so well and write reports so clearly and thoroughly. I smile, and think of writing my Personal History as a Leader Applicant, and the Monthly Activity Report Forms, the grant proposals, the Area Conference reports, and all the letters I’ve written to Leaders.

Some tell me they wish they could speak their minds and their thoughts clearly as I do. I smile and think of the mothers I’ve spoken to on the phone, who are crying, who are angry. I think about the HRE skills training sessions I’ve taken and the conflict resolution skills I’ve gained, and how I’ve encouraged Leaders working on Area Conferences as they work through the joys and challenges.

Yes, I smile about a lot of things people tell me I’m good at. Then I thank this organization called La Leche League, the Founders, and especially the many Leaders I’ve worked with in all levels of LLLC for the wonderful skills I have gained through my association with them. From mothering and parenting to leading meetings and developing organizational and administrative skills, this organization has trained me well. And I know that’s why I’ve stayed this long in LLL. Without this organization in my life, I likely would only be half the person I was meant to be.

It is so important that LLL continues as an entity. We need to know there are other LLL Leaders there for us, young and old. Leaders all over the world need to know there are other Leaders to whom they can turn in their support system. We all bring our own unique talents to this pool called LLL. Please don’t keep these talents hidden—they are needed! Leaders who have the time, the energy, the desire, and the commitment to want to do more for LLL, please think about how you can do more (and the transferable skills you might gain as a result of your further involvement). And I’ll just keep on smiling!

Nancy Mailman lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband, Graham. They have two grown children, Lee (27) and Lyle (24). She has been a Leader since 1980 and has been a Conference Administrator and Area Conference Supervisor for Atlantic Canada. She writes, "I am very appreciative and grateful to LLLC, as this article indicates, for the skills and abilities I have been able to develop in my role helping mothers breastfeed their babies. The transferable skills I wrote about played a significant part in my gaining the current employment I hold as Director of Religious Education in my rather large local church community." Contributing Editor Connie Boord would love to receive your ideas for "Promoting Membership." Send to: 4417-78th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 55443-3405 USA, or to cboord at (email).

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