On the Road with LLL
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 1, January-February 2002, p. 12
Picture yourself on a trip, traveling the planned route, when you see an alternate road up ahead that looks interesting. Something catches your eye, intriguing you. Maybe it's the scenery, a sign along the way, or just something you heard about. Perhaps you aren't quite sure where that new and different road will lead you, but you trust your map and your navigation skills to be able to get you where you eventually need to go. I think mothering is like that.
I began attending LLL meetings a couple months before my daughter was born. I was a working woman. I had a well-planned route in mind. I was determined to breastfeed, and I wanted to go to the experts about breastfeeding. So I made a scheduled stop at a La Leche League meeting. I felt pretty overwhelmed at my first meeting because there were so many mothers and babies. It was a very small house, and I wasn't accustomed to meetings led by someone who could hold a conversation, nurse a baby, chase a toddler, and answer a preschooler's questions simultaneously. I felt pretty lost and I was in alien territory. I mailed in my membership dues to La Leche League International the very next week, but I found a smaller Group to meet with the following month.
My map said I was going back to work, and I'd made arrangements with my employer to work from home part time during my maternity leave to earn a little extra money. After a few weeks I figured out that I was headed down a new road, and I would be happier if I stayed at home with my new baby. And even though I was glad to be on this path, I was feeling a little lost again. I'd embarked on this trip with two other travelers from my office, since three of us happened to be giving birth at about the same time. They were still following "the map." I was the only person I knew who had changed routes.
As I tried out this new direction, I went out of my way even further to find fellow travelers. I drove all the way across town to LLL meetings and looked forward to them because they were like signposts along the way, confirming that I was on the right road after all.
Traveling this road, I found myself describing the way to other mothers who needed ideas about how to make the trip. I discovered that I did know the way, once I let my internal navigation take over. And one day when my daughter was about two years old, I heard our LLL Group Leader talking to a couple of other members about coming to her house to discuss leadership. I remember feeling very interested, but I wasn't sure if it was for me. Could this be a new detour on my journey?
I approached her after the meeting and she welcomed me to come and learn more. I knew I had skills to offer LLL from my previous experiences, and I recognized that groups like La Leche League don't happen without help from lots of people. Most importantly, I saw breastfeeding and the help I got from LLL as a pivotal point on my journey, an important part of my special relationship with my baby. I wanted to help other mothers find that same wonderful path!
My path has continued to wind its way about the main road and back, still taking detours along the way. There are many days when I feel as though I'm definitely stuck on the frontage road of life, watching everyone else zoom along the interstate at top speed! There's a lot more to juggle now: an older child, homework, science projects, PTA jobs, work, additional volunteer commitments, and more LLL. Life is busy between LLL meetings and even with a co-Leader, we struggle to stay on top of all the things we'd like to do. The road is still there, but now there are many more alternate routes begging to be tried. Since we both have returned to work full time, it's harder to find available time for Planning and Enrichment Meetings, community outreach, or the many additional LLL activities we'd love to be able to plan and organize. I am always wondering if the mothers who come to our LLL meetings are finding their path clearly. Are they interested in knowing more about LLL leadership? We'd love to have other Leaders join us for the trip! Having a group of women to travel with makes the journey so much more fun.
Most of all, I hope these Group members know that LLL leadership is not an exclusive membership; it's open to all mothers who identify with the philosophy of La Leche League. Each woman needs to have a willingness to follow a certain vision along the way, though our paths may vary in many ways. The process requires commitment and time, much like any journey. Like motherhood, sometimes the road is smooth and easy, and sometimes there's a bump every step along the way. The key here is that your map is your own, and you have the opportunity to choose the path you ultimately take. If you would like to explore the road to LLL leadership, ask a Leader along your journey.