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Do I have to go?

Mary Wagner-Davis
Roseville CA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 44, No. 2, 2008, p. 9

Do I have to go?" asks my son, Joseph. It's time for baseball practice. He's been playing catch and pitching most every day this week, as well as hitting the ball, and now it's time for the team to practice. Does he really need to go? After all, a pitcher throws the ball to the batter. His job on the team is pretty well defined. He doesn't do a lot of far throws to the person in the shortstop position like his sister in left field does. He doesn't need to make quick decisions about where to throw the balls he retrieves, like his other sister at third base does. He hits his spots (for those of you who don't know baseball-speak, that means he throws the ball in the right place) and makes contact with the ball when he's up to bat. Why would he need to practice with the team?

Why do we have Series Meetings? La Leche League is based on supporting mothers. That comes in many forms -- telephone calls, random meetings at the market, classes, email, text messages, and Series Meetings. You visit with someone in line at the grocery store, or while your child is at gymnastics. Informal encounters offer many opportunities to both extend and receive support. So, if mother-to-mother support happens wherever mothers happen, why do we keep on having meetings?

There's something about being with other people who are doing the same thing as we are that is energizing. Even for someone who is a relative introvert, who is reenergized by spending a bit of time alone, interacting with other people is beneficial. Most people are not complete introverts; they get more than a little out of being around other people. So what do we get out of having Series Meetings?

Without these meetings of like-minded people, whether they are baseball practice, Series Meetings, or LLL Area Council Meetings, we lose a sense of "being in this together." We lose some of the energy we need to complete our task, whether that be winning a baseball game, supporting women who breastfeed, or mothering. When my son's team doesn't practice together, they forget that Tommy tends to consistently throw a certain way, so the first baseman better be ready for the ball to curve a bit. When mothers don't come to Series Meetings, they miss Emily's story of how she overcame a nursing strike with her nine-month-old. They miss the inspiration and encouragement of other women who are making the same journey. When you spend time with people, you learn their ways of being and their ways of working. In the busy life of a mother, wife, and LLL Leader, you forget that there are others out there doing what you are doing, putting one foot in front of the other on this journey we call motherhood.

You and I may know this is true, but how do we communicate this truth to the mothers who come (or don't come!) to Series Meetings? How do we communicate to an exhausted mother whose colicky baby is waking every two hours that she really will feel better if she gets herself dressed and comes to an LLL meeting? How do we communicate to the mother of a toddler who is into everything that, not only do we really need her presence as an experienced mother, she will benefit from the collective presence of a Series Meeting as she strives to incorporate LLL philosophy into her daily life?

One way we encourage mothers is with our own firmly held belief that gathering together with other women to provide information, support, education, and encouragement is invaluable. When we share with others ways in which LLL has aided us in our journey of motherhood, we give them a living example of how LLL can support them. The mother of a toddler sees you coming with your young children and thinks, "She's still getting something out of it; maybe I will, too."

Another way we communicate the value of coming together is by engaging mothers in the inner workings of the Group. Remember when you held your first Group job? Remember that feeling of belonging, or being a part of something -- thinking that it mattered whether you came or not? While the mothers who attend Series Meetings may be different from you in many ways, this is one thing you share. Holding a Group job, providing input at Evaluation Meetings, attending gatherings such as District Workshops or Conferences, all help mothers feel more connected to La Leche League. These are also ways in which mothers can discover that not only does La Leche League give to them, they can give -- to other mothers and back to La Leche League.

Lastly, we communicate the value of coming together by keeping in mind that Series Meetings serve a purpose -- meeting the needs of mothers for information, support, encouragement, and education. Some mothers come to our meetings pen and paper in hand, looking for information and education. Other mothers come with crying baby in arms, looking for support and encouragement. While it is difficult to be all things to all women, it is also important to remember the purpose of Series Meetings. We do not get together because it's the third Tuesday of the month and that's when La Leche League meets. We don't have a Series Meeting strictly because someone agreed to lead the meeting and we'd better be here. While I'm the first one to admit winging it from time to time, mothers feel valued when we keep in mind their purpose for coming to Series Meetings. Mothers recognize that we have come to meet them where they are, and thus keep coming back.

Why do we have Series Meetings? Because mothers everywhere, ourselves included, need to be with other mothers. We all need the information, education, support, and encouragement of other mothers. We need to know that we are not in this alone in this, whether "this" refers to mothering, being a Leader, or playing baseball. We need each other.

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