Some Things I Don't Worry About Anymore
Katikati, New Zealand
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 30 No. 1, January-February 1994, p. 6
When I was a "new" Leader I had many concerns. Did I know enough? Could I lead a meeting that wasn't boring? Would the mothers who called feel helped? Now I have grown in many ways: as a Leader, a mother and a woman. I recognize my perspectives as ever-changing and I don't worry about everything anymore.
l) I don't worry about leading perfect meetings. I do the preparations I need to feel comfortable but I remember that the mood of the meeting is determined by all the participants, not just me. No matter how experienced the Leader or how well-prepared, sometimes a meeting doesn't go as well as planned but that's okay because the good ones will make up for it.
2) I don't worry about the paperwork. I know I feel uncomfortable when I get behind so I try to keep on top of it to spare my own feelings. If I do get behind I just catch up, I don't waste energy berating myself for getting behind. It's like housework--you can only keep pace, never "finish" it!
3) I don't worry about making decisions for other mothers. If mothers want to wean, give bottles, use a sleep programme--that is their choice. I can offer information, widen possible options, help clarify feelings, and give support, but what a mother decides to do with her baby is her choice. A mother knows herself and her baby better than I do. She loves her baby and is doing the best she can with the time, energy, and resources she has. I respect a mother's right to choose even if her choice differs from mine.
4) I don't worry whether or not a mother "succeeds" at breastfeeding. I would like to see every mother and baby happily nursing but I can't possibly appreciate the circumstances of all mothers. I can praise her efforts to give her baby the best but it's not for me to label mothers as having "succeeded" (which implies some will "fail"). If a mother is happy in the way she is able to mother her baby I take my satisfaction from that.
5) I don't worry about being the perfect mother. I don't expect other people to be "perfect" and I still love and respect them so I don't apply rigid standards to myself.
6) I don't worry that my commitment to LLL is detrimental to my family. "Family first" means I must be very clear in my priorities and organizing so the family's needs are met, but this doesn't necessarily mean that LLL always comes second. I feel my children have benefited by my positive attitude and by acquiring values through my role modeling: commitment to an ideal, ability to do a job outside the family, community service, and valuing work not rewarded by money.
7) I don't worry about converting the world. I see an incredible ignorance among health professionals who are influential and need to know more even if they don't always realize it. But I can only do what I can do and when I am gone there will still be more to do. The choice is not to change the world or quit. By working steadily on, I am making a difference in general, and to a mother and baby who are breastfeeding when, without my help they might not be, I have converted their world completely.
8) I don't worry about apologizing or justifying my passion for promoting breastfeeding. I no longer feel embarrassed about my involvement with this work. The cornerstone of human society is the mother and baby. What more worthwhile work could there be than promoting something that can benefit all humanity?
9) I don't worry about being uncomfortable with friends and acquaintances who don't share my LLL philosophies. It's better to agree to disagree about some things and appreciate and value other aspects of the relationship.
10) I don't worry about my relationship with La Leche League. I've had my moments of frustration but they are so minor when compared with the amazing, inspirational, beautiful women I have had the pleasure to know through my involvement with our organization. It is what we make it, so I don't stand back and point my finger and complain. I like knowing that as long as I want to be involved there will be a place for me.
By accepting others as they are, we lighten our responsibilities, free up our own energy for more productive purposes, and achieve more balanced and realistic expectations.