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La Leche League Has Done It Again!

Cathy Harmon
Grapevine TX USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 42 No. 3, July-August-September 2006, p. 62

Well, La Leche League has done it again!

Let me explain. As a new mother, I phoned my local Leader, asking for recommendations on which breast pump I should get. Her kind questions soon helped me realize that I probably didn't need a pump at all. What a relief! She was right: breastfeeding does not necessarily require a mother to pump. Some months later I avoided a premature and unnecessary weaning by speaking with the Area Professional Liaison, who asked if I might be interested in seeking a second opinion to diagnose suspicious breast lumps. I was. I did. And breastfeeding continued without interruption. When my older son was about one year old, I remember thanking the mothers and Leaders at the meeting that day for their support. Without the information and support of LLL, I doubt that I would have nursed my baby into toddlerhood, and we both would have missed out on priceless experiences. La Leche League was there for me and my baby -- supporting, informing, guiding, helping.

Then -- oh happy day! -- I was accredited the next year as an LLL Leader. My intention to give something back to LLL gave me more! I learned practical communication skills -- skills that I've found valuable not only in my LLL conversations but also with my family. My experiences fielding mothers' calls and leading Series Meetings gave me a sense of pride and the pleasure of knowing that I was making a difference in my community. My LLL activities benefited me again.

As Associate Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (ACLA) for several years, I was privileged to correspond with many Leader Applicants who were eventually welcomed as co-Leaders. Through their heartfelt letters, these women deepened my understanding of LLL philosophy. I saw a variety of mothering choices, each of which reflected in different ways LLL philosophy in action. While serving as an ACLA, I gained new perspectives on mothering and recognized the reach and value of LLL. Once more I became a better mother and person for having spent my time with LLL.

Over the years other LLL opportunities have enriched me. Speaking at Area Conferences has allowed me to research parenting issues and then to speak in front of large audiences. I also enjoyed being part of the behind-the-scenes planning and work in several Area Conferences. My confidence and skills continued to blossom, thanks to LLL.

Taking the reins in a new position as Area Communications Coordinator three years ago presented more chances for personal growth. I've rekindled my writing and proofreading skills. I'm honored (a dream realized!) to have had two articles published in LEAVEN. I've refreshed my communication skills, and I find them invaluable in corresponding with my fellow Area Department Coordinators as we navigate by consensus the ship that is LLL of Texas, USA. I've also had the opportunity to "e-chat" with many other Leaders, both in and out of our Area, answering questions, sharing opinions, and coordinating a department.

To my surprise, I realize that LLL is still giving me gifts. Most recently, I've become a business owner. Being home with my children for the past 18 years has enabled me to pursue a hobby during the in-between spaces of mothering; this hobby is now my profession. In the myriad of details necessary to set up my new venture, I'm discovering that I can once again thank LLL for:

  • Quarterly sales tax reports and Annual Financial Reports. Yes, thanks to those not-so-fun forms and reports, I have a clear understanding of many of the financial aspects of business. I'm grateful I handled my Group's Treasury for several years.
  • Small budgets. Because of limited resources in LLL and in raising my family on one income, I'm good at being frugal. I'm also good at brainstorming and finding inexpensive ways to accomplish goals. This ability is of benefit in the business world, especially in the start-up year.
  • Communication skills. Speaking with sign makers who take two weeks instead of the promised two days, responding to disgruntled clients, managing miscommunication between employees -- each of these is another time I'm grateful for the skills I learned in LLL. I can't say often enough how important those Communication Skills sessions are.

Perhaps the greatest gift to me from LLL is the strength of the bonds between my children and me. We have all been under stress recently. But I know that, even though my responses haven't always reflected the hoped-for "acceptance of my children's capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings," my family can end the day with special time together, telling stories or reading, reconnecting, forgiving hasty and harsh words. Our strong and deep ties help us weather these short-term, hectic times.

So La Leche League has done it again: enriching, challenging, educating, and strengthening me. And all the while I thought I was just returning a favor.

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