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Our Stories: My Friend Becomes a Leader

Claire Charlton
Berkley MI USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 4, August-September 2004, pp. 87.

When many of us became mothers for the first time, we were breaking ground in more ways than one. Maybe our friends and peers hadn’t become mothers. Maybe we were the "first" in our circle to become pregnant. Perhaps we had friends and family members who were already in the world of motherhood, yet they approached it in a different way than we did. Maybe we were "pioneers" because we chose to breastfeed, practice attachment parenting, use cloth diapers, share sleep with our babies, or many other things that set us apart from our more "mainstream friends." Even with the changes, we were usually able to maintain friendships, or at least we had mutual respect for each other’s choices. Sometimes, however, we found that we could no longer be close friends with someone we once cared for because our philosophies were so radically different.

So, we found support, joined La Leche League, and made new friends. We pursued and achieved leadership, and are now among others with similar parenting philosophies. They believe in the same things that matter so very deeply to us. Still, we think, "Wouldn’t it be fantastic if one of our old friends could join us in La Leche League?"

I have spoken with many friends who call early in their pregnancies to find out what my birth was like, how did my life change, and to share how excited they were to join me in motherhood. After a while it became clear that many of my friends would choose a different path than I had. I always wished them good luck, but I often felt sad when our approaches were very different because it sometimes made it uncomfortable to really share mothering experiences. Over time, I started to guard my enthusiasm, and watch each friend mother "her own way."

My friend, Anne, who was the girlfriend of a close friend when we were all in college, called me with that familiar excitement a couple of years ago to let me know how thrilled she was to be pregnant. Again, I was happy, in my guarded way. As her pregnancy progressed and her birth unfolded, I could see that perhaps this experience might be different.

Yesterday, Anne called me to say that she is now working toward becoming a La Leche League Leader. Anne shared with me that when she told her sponsoring Leader about me, the Leader said "Oh! I didn’t know you had La Leche League roots!" Even though Anne and I are in different Areas, different Divisions, and several hundred miles apart, we are bound by much more than the fact that we are both mothers. We are both La Leche League mothers.

I feel as though I am getting a new member of my own family. Now I can enjoy the support of a friend I knew "before" our lives changed so much. Yes, we have grown and we have changed, yet we have come back together, and I couldn’t be happier. Welcome to La Leche League, Anne! I am honored to have you join us!

Claire Charlton is an LLL Leader with the La Leche League of Ferndale/Oak Park, Michigan, USA Chapter.

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