Page 186: Individual friendships/esteem ≠ community. True community requires forgiveness? (Thinking of experience in small community + the OccupationPage 186: Individual friendships/esteem ≠ community. True community requires forgiveness? (Thinking of experience in small community + the Occupation in The Scapegoat.)
Golly, this one's ripe for discussion. Identity, community, vocation......more
Mary Ann Cahill gives a surprising depth to her treatment of LLL history. She begins each chapter with an overview, then proceeds with interview segmeMary Ann Cahill gives a surprising depth to her treatment of LLL history. She begins each chapter with an overview, then proceeds with interview segments with the other founding mothers.
LLL history should be required reading for all Leader Applicants.
Aside from the incredible influence seven mothers had on the renaissance of breastfeeding, one of the most striking points is how little removed this group of women who began their efforts in 1956 seem from contemporary life. In one example, the affinity of the founding mothers for homebirth seems rather more contemporary in 2014 than it might have in 1990. In another, the founders' husbands sound quite current: "Our husbands were making up all sorts of names for us, like the 'Busty Broads' and the 'Milk Maids.' We laughed at their teasing...." p. 37
Also striking is how far LLL is now removed from its former glory as "the world's foremost authority on breastfeeding." Whether it is a victim of its own success (after launching IBLCE, spurring increased understanding and appreciation of breastfeeding in the medical community, and developing a market for publications and research on breastfeeding) or whether it succumbed to disorganization and lack of a clear vision for continued growth is an open question. There's not doubt that it's been involuting for a while, with the current number of active Leaders less than half that in 1981 and the cessation of all of the programs that lent authority to its voice as an authority on breastfeeding.
Cahill doesn't shy away from sensitive topics, though she is gentle and I'm sure there's much that's left unsaid. But if you've ever wondered about certain controversies in LLL history that you may have only heard whisperings of before, there were certainly some new to me details in Seven Voices One Dream. It is more in depth and more personal than The LLLove Story.
One of the first controversies Cahill addresses is the question of natural childbirth: "Word of these unorthodox home births soon spread throughout La Leche League, though no attempt was made to promote home births at LLL meetings. The contrast spoke for itself, helped along no doubt by the sight of a glowing mother at an LLL meeting telling of her joyful, never-to-be-forgotten experience giving birth in the familiar surrounding of her own home, surrounded by family, not strangers. "Yet not everyone in La Leche League bought into this idyllic picture. As LLL Groups proliferated and spread farther from the center, a movement developed that questioned why childbirth should even be a part of Series Meetings. How a mother chose to give birth was a matter for her and her doctor to decide, and the business of La Leche League was to ocme in at the point when she wants to breastfeed the baby. Those who questioned this had the best of intentions--the dissatisfied Leaders felt they would reach more mothers if childbirth was left out. They asked 'Is La Leche League a breastfeeding organization or what?' "It may have been the first time that question was asked, but it would not be the last. Over the years, discussions have repeatedly surfaced as to whether La Leche League's mission is about breastfeeding, or, for instance, mothering. It is not an unhealthy exercise, since **each generation of mothers must wrestle with the question and make the answer its own.**" p. 46
The second controversy was the abortion issue, faced by LLL in 1971, prior to the legalization of abortion in 1973. "The LLLI Board of Directors at the time consisted of 10 members, the seven Founders and three long-time La Leche League Leaders. When the Board was asked to issue a statement on the matter, it was soon evident that members were split in their responses. The Board discussions continued for many months. Finally, a vote was taken with six of the Board members, including four Founders, voting against taking a stand either for or against abortion. They feared La Leche League would be caught up in an ongoing and disruptive debate. The business of La Leche League, they stressed, is breastfeeding, and anything that distracts from that goal must be avoided. "The remaining four held that it was unthinkable to remain silent. They pointed out that everything La Leche League stands for, its purpose and philosophy, is directed to supporting mothers in their mothering. Breastfeeding is a sustained and rewarding means to that end, yet not the whole picture. "After this Board decision was taken, an uneasy truce settled in until some months later when the situation came to a head at the 1971 LLL International Conference in Chicago. At the closing session, unauthorized written material about the abortion issue was found on the chairs, and, when it was her turn to speak, Mary White made a plea for La Leche League to take a stand in support of all mothers and their unborn babies. She received a standing ovation, though not everyone was pleased. The Board of Directors again met, and this time passed a motion stating that any LLL member who brought up the subject of abortion at an LLL function would summarily be dismissed from La Leche League. "The minority was stunned but fell in line. Abortion became a mute subject, but the age of innocence was over. The old ease with which the Fouders had discussed issues was replaced by a sense of wariness. Yet no one gave up; no one dropped out. The cause was much too dear to their hearts and much work remained to be done." p. 133-134 (If you're counting, Seven Voices provides clarification of the stance of five of the founding mothers. Mary White (obviously), Mary Ann Cahill, and Mary Ann Kerwin all fell on the side which wanted LLL to express opposition to abortion. Betty Wagner and Edwina Froelich were in favor of LLL remaining silent on the subject--and it is clear from their comments that they were opposed to abortion, but they didn't want to divide the organization as it was certain there were Leaders who held a different view.)
Cahill also addresses the contention over roles. The organization conflated standard roles in its early history & had to untangle the knot and follow best practices for non-profits, but in the course of doing so there were many missteps and hurt feelings. Marian Tompson experienced the episode as a personal attack. She says, "One of the Founders suggested I just resign as president and then they would not have to vote me out. So I wrote a letter to each Board member, asking for an explanation of how LLL would be better off without a president, point out that the president didn't have to be me. If what they said made snse to me I would just resign because I wanted to do what was best for LLL. Not one Board Member answered. "And was LLL affected by this turn of events? Yes, I think it was. LLL lost some of its purity and openness in the eyes of some of our loyal supporters." p. 149
"Along the way, Mary White became known as the 'guardian angel' of the mother-baby relationship. Mary never hesitated to speak out. Circumstances might change, she'd remind the group, but a baby's needs do not." p. 48
The original series of four meetings isn't exactly the same as it is today: "childbirth, nursing infants, introducing solids, baby-led weaning became the basis of the four-meeting Series." p. 61
Mary White on weaning: "That's why we developed meetings on nursing toddlers, when to wean, and so on. How do you know when 'wants' and 'needs' are not the same? Does this little child need to nurse, or does he just want to nurse because he's bored? "We had to keep emphasizing to the mothers that the deciding factor should always be, 'What is best for this child at this time?' Now with a baby, of course, picking the baby up and offering the breast when he is upset or crying is usually what the baby both wants and needs. "But later on the child may be asking to nurse because he can't think of anything else to do. Instead of breastfeeding, perhaps what the child really needs is for you to read a book to him, or play a game with him. Or maybe he just needs a nap. That is what meeting the needs of the child really means--meeting their real needs at that particular stage of their development." p. 61
Mary Ann Cahill and Mary White on gentle discipline: "MAC: But don't you agree, Mary, that some LLL parents take the idea of 'gentle discipline' to an extreme? I mean, I think we have all seen parents, both mothers and fathers, who don't seem to know when to put some restraint on their child's behavior. "MW: ....The bottom line is, 'Is this for the child's own good?' That's where your judgment as a parent comes in. Using La Leche League philosophy of loving guidance does not mean that you just let your children run wild, and do anything they want at any time of the day or night. Again, it's mostly a matter of using common sense, tempered with the loving kindness of a parent who really wants what is best for her child."
Mary White on guilt: "Apparently the idea is that, if you tell someone that something is true, and then, for whatever reason, they decide to do something else instead, that La Leche League should be held responsible for making them feel 'guilty.' "For instance, we tell the mothers who come to our meetings, in a positive sort of way I hope, that breastfeeding is better for their babies than bottle-feeding--better nutritionally and better in terms of mother infant-bonding. This is true; this is a fact. And yet we meet resistance to that piece of information, even from those women who voluntarily came to our meetings to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding. It seems as though some folks would have us believe that, simply by presenting the facts, we have made these mothers feel 'guilty.' "Well, I am sorry, I just don't buy that, You cannot force a woman to breastfeed her baby. We in La Leche League do not attempt to force or coerce anyone into breastfeeding. New mothers come to our meetings of their own free will. We share information and the collective wisdom of what we have learned from our mothering experiences. But after listening to what we have to say, it is up to each woman. Each mother makes her own decisions about breastfeeding--how long to breastfeed, whether to supplement, when to wean, and so on." p. 65
Edwina Froelich on mothering: "[Dr. Ratner] helped us to see that we were not just giving mothers breastfeeding information and techniques. What we were really talking about was a philosophy of mothering. The idea was that breastfeeding was just one component of this larger philosophical issue that we called 'good mothering.' "I think we realized early on that it was pretty hard to succeed at breastfeeding unless you had an overall acceptance of the idea of being there, in person, for your baby--what we called 'mothering' the baby." p. 66
Mary White on principles: "You may not believe it, but I get awfully tired of fighting some of these battles over things that should be so clear. You've got to know what you believe in-there should be agreement on what the organization stands for. There's room for a lot of difference of opinion along the way. But you've got to have something to hang your hat on. Everyone has to know what your principles are first--everything else flows from that." p. 131
Mary White on abortion: "I think we're being two-faced to say we want to help mothers and babies, but at the same time, by our silence, to condone killing these little ones. "To 'not take a stand' is taking a stand. It says we don't care. I think we should care." p. 151
Betty Wagner: "I think some of our administrators over the years may have been too strong, too rigid. I think perhaps there were too many layers of supervision; there may still be too many layers. "The sad thing is, these Leaders thought that they were doing what we wanted; they thought they were upholding LLL philosophy and LLL ideals. Whereas, in reality, the Founders overall were much more accepting of people's differences, and different ways of life. So we had to let the Leaders know this, and convince them to ease up a bit." p. 159
Mary Ann Kerwin on weaning: "It seems to me that some mothers and Leaders in LLL may miss the signs of readiness to wean....I believe most babies are ready to wean by the time they are two or three years old. Mary White talks about the many ways mothers demonstrate love and closeness to their older babies during and after weaning. Sometimes it appears that some in LLL think that the longer a baby breastfeeds the better adjusted the baby will be. LLL has never said this and never will.... Recently I heard of a mother who proclaimed openly at an LLL meeting that her eight-year-old was still dealing with weaning. That can be very intimidating for a mother expecting her first baby or a new mother struggling through the first weeks of learning to breastfeed....I think it's important for mothers of older babies who are breastfeeding to be discreet about it. Usually one can breastfeed an older baby without letting others know what is happening.... LLL does not encourage mothers to breastfeed indefinitely." p. 172-173 ...more
While Love the Journey did provide some much needed inspiration for another year of homeschooling, it would have benefited from more thorough editing.While Love the Journey did provide some much needed inspiration for another year of homeschooling, it would have benefited from more thorough editing. While personal confessions and anecdotes do provide the connection Somerville is trying to establish, the chatty, informal tone and references to current culture that will soon be dated fall flat. There were several points were I was surprised to find the author of "Tapestry of Grace" espousing a thoroughly works based theology....more