LLL Meetings: A Door to New Opportunities and Experiences
Sussex WI USA
Lilburn GA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 2, October-November 2005, p. 113.
Mothers come to LLL meetings to learn about breastfeeding and parenting and to receive support. Their positive experiences in the Group can open the door to new experiences influenced by the mothers they meet and all they learn at meetings. In this article, two long time Leaders share personal observations and experiences stemming from Group experiences.
Winnie Mading of Wisconsin, USA gives examples of how LLL connections can lead to future happy relationships.
One interesting phenomenon I have observed over my 35 years as a Leader is the connections women and families make that extend beyond LLL. Many women, especially those with first babies, find that former peer groups no longer meet all their needs. At LLL meetings, women make connections that go beyond breastfeeding and occur independent of what Leaders do. One of the first examples of this that I observed was the development of play groups. Play groups can be a natural outgrowth of children's interacting and becoming more mobile. The children know each other from the LLL meetings and seem to get along well, and the mothers have similar parenting styles, which may avoid adult conflicts that can occur in other groups. One group of mothers set up a book club. They found that their children were not welcome in any existing clubs, so they started their own. They also brought in others with no LLL connections -- they just made sure the newcomers knew that having babies and other children present was normal for their group and to accept the noisier setting than more traditional book clubs.
Couple connections can also grow from LLL meetings. Whether as a result of Couples' Meetings or secondhand from the mothers, men find other men with similar interests and have formed golf foursomes or other "male bonding" activities. Couples with similar needs/interests may find that their friendships grow and continue long after the mother is no longer involved in LLL.
There are many stories of how connecting with an LLL Group has made moving to a new town much easier. A family can feel very lost with no connections in a strange town. At LLL meetings, mothers can feel as though they have "come home." They may learn about health services in the community during conversations with other mothers; these discussions can often help them make choices. Newcomers may make other discoveries, too. They learn very quickly and easily which stores, restaurants, or churches will complement their parenting style.
Betsy Grenevitch of Georgia USA describes how her own experiences in an LLL Group led her to become an LLL Leader.
I was expecting my first child when a friend told me about LLL and how much it had helped her. She told me that she would try to find a Group for me. I thought that we would never find one, but she finally saw an ad in the newspaper and gave me the number. I'm still connected with this Group after 14 years. Our Group meets in the evening, which is exciting for me because we are able to help many mothers who juggle breastfeeding and working. I love to see these mothers keep coming back and eventually share with others how they have succeeded in combining both. Even though I have moved to a different city that is about 20 minutes away from where this Group meets, I still go back. With such fond memories, I can't imagine going to a different Group. Besides offering meetings, our Group helps the community in another vital way. All four of our Leaders are involved with our local hotline. This allows us to help mothers from cities throughout the area. It is a privilege to be able to help mothers in such a vital way.
Betsy Grenevitch is a totally blind mother of four children: DJ (15), Paul (12), Josh (8), and Michelle (4). She lives in Georgia, USA and has been a Leader since 1993. She works with the Visually Impaired Division and changes the local hotline weekly. Involved in several other groups in addition to LLL, Betsy says, "La Leche League is at the top of my favorites list as far as the joy I receive from helping other mothers." Winnie Mading, RNC, IBCLC, is one of the earliest Leaders in Wisconsin, USA. She has been an IBCLC for 17 years. Since her recent retirement from hospital work, she has returned to leading Group meetings in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Nancy Spahr compiled and edited this article. Send your articles and ideas for this column to Nancy at 174 E. Main St., Peru, Indiana 46970 USA; fax to 765-472-3889; or email Nspahr at llli.org.