Touching Mothers: The Importance of Series Meetings
Kibbutz Sa’ad Israel
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 1, February-March 2002, p. 5
As a Leader, I have three means of communication: email, phone, and actually sitting down and talking to a Leader or a mother face-to-face. All three are important ways of touching mothers, but each is very special in its own way. Email is by far the most efficient way for me to communicate with others. I’m able to write wonderful short or long messages in the convenience of my own home, at whatever time I choose (which is usually at 5 am), dressed in my special email attire, my pajamas (what did you think I was wearing at 5:00 in the morning?!). Then I can copy it to anyone as needed. Email really has made communication with others quite enjoyable for me. Email, however, is good only up to a certain point. Sometimes there is an email that has an underlying urgency about it. An email that says, “Pick up the phone! This person needs a human voice. This person needs empathy.” I make a point of trying to call the mother that very day. The phone enables me to use my Human Relations Enrichment skills and touch her in a very special way that is difficult to do through email. It is possible to empathize in an email. But when empathizing or confronting in an email, it is necessary to weigh every word very carefully. What might sound okay to one person might sound very threatening to someone else. Once it’s in writing, and can be read over and over, it’s as though every word is engraved in stone. The phone allows the intimacy of feeling, crying, or laughing with another person. I know right away if I have empathized and established a rapport with a mother, and then we can go on to problem-solving. Then there is the actual sitting down with a mother and touching her with all your senses: being able to listen and empathize; helping the mother relax and begin to solve her own problems; being able to listen and comfort her with your eyes or the touch of your hand. This is such an ideal way of helping mothers! But if you get lots of phone calls, you can’t possibly see every mother on a personal basis. There aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to answer phone calls, see mothers individually, and meet our families’ needs. This is a prescription for Leader burnout. I find that a lot of the questions that I repeatedly receive from mothers could be answered in the warm, accepting atmosphere of the monthly Series Meetings. These mothers don’t necessarily have meetings in their area. They are missing the nurturing and self-confidence that a Series Meeting can give. Part of the role that we took on when we became Leaders along with telephone counseling is leading Series Meetings. The following is a quote from Mary Ann Cahill (cited in The New Leader’s Handbook, 1989 edition, p. 3) Working in the Group, being part of a mother’s discovery of the joy of breastfeeding, forming a bond with other LLL Leaders and workers, celebrating successes together and moving ahead after disappointments, looking back and feeling justifiably proud of what has been accomplished, looking ahead to meeting the needs of the mothers of tomorrow—that’s what you do, day in and day out! We help mothers nurture their babies through breastfeeding. We help mothers develop the self-confidence that they can meet their babies’ needs. One important way we touch mothers is through our monthly Series Meetings. We need to increase the number of Groups so that we can nurture more mothers and ourselves.
Rosie Weisel has been a Leader for 23 years and is currently ACL for LLL Israel. She and her husband, Ron, have 6 sons, Adir, 25; Raphael, 21; Gavriel, 17; Chanan, 13; Yedidya, 10; and Tzur, 6. She has been a graphic artist and calligrapher for 26 years. For the past four years, she has taken care of young children on Kibbutz Sa’ad where she and her family live.