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Real Kids, Real Joys

Elaine Dawson
Nerina Republic of South Africa
Esme Nel
Wolseley South Africa
Nan Vollette
Hampton VA USA

Beth Moscov
Boulder Creek CA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 5, September-October 2003, pp. 182

What new parent doesn't plan to nurture their babies so completely that they will thrive and flourish and be happy people? But then those perfect children turn into real children. Life is not always "happily ever after," even in supportive, loving families. Into any real life can come disability, mental illness, rape, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy. And then the question is, how will you deal with this in a way consistent with values you have lived so far?

Gracefully moderating this difficult discussion was Elaine Dawson of South Africa. She asked such questions as, "How did we put our pride in our pocket and find the resources we needed to cope?" And "How important is humor in handling your situation?" The panel was generous with their experiences and ideas, and the attendees responded by asking deep, revealing questions and sharing their knowledge, experience, and hard-won humility. While the topics of discussion couldn't have been more different from a typical Series Meeting, many of the comments were familiar. One panelist stated, "No matter what, you're never prepared. You have to learn how to manage the system all over again, even if you're an expert." Doesn't that sound similar to something you experienced in your baby's life? The discussion reinforced how difficult it can be to create a support system when you are completely overwhelmed and how important it is to have a support system in place before you need it. The panelists said that La Leche League friends were a primary source of support in their times of family crisis. One attendee pointed out that La Leche League has shown us how to grow a support group, so we can do that whenever we need to. This potentially depressing session was truly affirming of LLL values and full of hope. As Elaine Dawson summed it up, "Things do right themselves."

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