I think that influencing others goes along with nursing in public, even if public is sometimes just in front of a friend. Nursing isn't the only way that I hope I influence mothers around me, I HOPE in front of others (and usually behind closed doors, and sometimes neither of those times am I great at it) that I show mothers around me that I am sensitive to my children, that I view my children as people who are worthy of my time, attention, trust and respect. That sometimes that means bending when others may think I should hold a hard line. And all of that starts with breastfeeding, with nursing a newborn whenever she needs it, with noticing the cues of an older, busier baby who needs to nurse, perhaps when she's hurt, or worried, or feels a little anxious about the social situation. Sometimes that means nursing a bumped up newly walking tot, yeah, even one with a full set of teeth and WORDS, and an ability to tell me when she needs to nurse. . .she's actually ALWAYS been able to TELL me when she needs to nurse, and my daughters and I have built our relationships on a mutual trust that I will notice her needs and tend to them. Did you know that nursing is a NEED for small children, a need to be near mom in the early YEARS is as essential as the actual sustenance provided through nursing.
In a general sense I influence those around me to view breastfeeding as the biological norm, by my willingness to discuss it openly. I talk about breastfeeding in a way that others recognize I view it as COMPLETELY normal. . . to do and to talk about. I don't quiet my voice, I don't try to discuss it privately (unless there is a sensitive situation), I don't shy away from sharing information if someone asks. I FREELY say the word "breastfeeding" which is a little humorous, since before I had children, "breast" was a word that I HATED to use. I had a set of three words I hated hearing or using. . . that was one. Not because of any sort of sexual connotation, I just didn't like the way it sounded as a word. I digress.
I have a close friend who recently told me that I'd really influenced her as a mother, through her pregnancy, from the very rough start of her son's life and through the extra rough "months" long start of their breastfeeding relationship, but I hadn't just influenced her with regards to her pushing through some rough stuff to continue nursing, I'd also influenced her and inspired her as a mother. That is something that does any mama's heart good to hear, and any friend's too! I hope that my influence and inspiration for her, were that of listening to her own heart and following her baby's cues (I know they were). I want to be sure that I never "influence" people to do it just like me, but instead, to trust themselves.
I hope that my mothering, coupled with my natural attitude of not worrying much about what others think (though in the quiet of my own home, I do rant a bit about it), I can influence and inspire other mothers to trust themselves as mothers, to seek support for the things they already KNOW they want their parenting to be about, and to be willing to shun popular opinion, in order to continue building a relationship of trust and respect with their babies, despite what others around them might say or pressure them into, if it goes against their personal parenting philosophies.
Breastfeeding is the building block for a relationship with your child(ren). . . sure, NOT breastfeeding is also a building block, EVERYTHING is a building block. .. what kind of structure are you purposing to build? A foundation built on mutual respect and trust gives a child tools for a lifetime, but a foundation built on "my" schedule, "my" wants, "my" desires, believing a child to be something less than a "PERSON" is a foundation that does not set up our children to succeed. I hope that mothers will see the foundation my husband and I both are working to build with our children and seek to do the same.
I'm bouncing around a bit. As a wrap up I'd like to say "the proof is in the pudding." There was a time when my own family probably felt (and maybe still do) that they did not understand my parenting, my joy over cosleeping, my desire to continue nursing my child WELL past an age anyone in my family had nursed or understood nursing to be important, my hope to homeschool, not that these ALL necessarily go hand in hand, but it's a path of motherhood I never saw myself taking before children. And tentatively they have watched the story unfold, questioning me along the way, sometimes out loud, sometimes to one another, I'm sure, and as the story has unfolded, it has been revealed that my kid isn't messed up. . . so what I'm doing must be a fine job :) And my biggest hope in that, is that my own sister, as she moves into a stage of her life where she plans to have children, will consider that there might be a way of parenting outside of the scope of what she has viewed in her life as a daughter and a nanny. My hope for her, particularly, is that she will FOR ONCE, not try to take the alternate path to the one I've taken :) But instead see the benefits for a child, by considering the same route.
Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.
- Renee @ Just the 5 of us!-You Can Do It!
- Sylko @ Chaotic Mama-Breastfeeding Carnival: Day 14 Final Day
- Timbra @ Bosoms and Babes-Influential Parenting
- Judy @ Mommy News & Views Blog-Helping Moms to Breastfeed
- Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl-Knowledge is Power
- Laura @ Day by Day in Our World-Influencing Others on Their Breastfeeding Journey
- And of course the guest poster on the Breastfeeding Cafe’s blog today is Shelly Poole-Breastfeeding, The True Story