I'm one of those people that needs to get stuff off my chest from time to time. I should mention that this chest of which I speak is (still) gainfully employed -- I'm nursing my almost 3-year old daughter and have two older, but still small children who each weaned near their 4th birthdays. My journey to and through motherhood and otherhood has roused the deep and dark within me, and this was supposed to be the place where I got it all off my chest ... but I've been a blogging failure.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
December 13 – Action
When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?
Oh, I really loved this prompt, because ... I'm all about action.
I feel like knowing which direction I'm moving in, and taking steps in that direction significantly improves my outlook on my current situation. I don't much like my current situation, but I'm finding positive things about it that are making "the next step" that much sweeter.
I'm studying for the GRE, and applying to graduate school. I already completed nearly an entire master's degree in counseling, several years ago ... however, now that my retirement from the military is within sight, I feel like I have found and settled into my calling for the future. I'm going to pursue a Master of Public Health, on a policy track, with, I hope, a lot of electives in epidemiology and a focus on maternal/child health and nutrition.
When I became a mother 8 years ago, I had so little knowledge or experience. Mothering Anna was both the most joyful and the most complicated thing I had ever done. Why was it so complicated? Many mothers express this same feeling. I sought and found support through La Leche League, and was proud to be accredited as a Leader so that I could support other mothers in their journey. Helping a mother breastfeed her baby brings me so much satisfaction and hope for the future! I felt like it wasn't enough, though ... too many mothers were coming to me with obstacles I couldn't help them remove; they were getting flawed advice from their doctors and healthcare providers. I decided to volunteer for opportunities to research and speak about lactation topics relevant to the healthcare profession. Oh, how I love, love, LOVE to do this, and I'm thankful for every chance I have to write or speak about breastfeeding. Again, though, I see that even the healthcare profession has its hands tied ... by policy.
A hard look at the policies this country sustains with regard to mothers, babies, and children quickly reveals that the landscape needs to be changed. Paid maternity leaves are rare. Breastfeeding is considered "extra credit" and not the biological norm. Bottles and pacifiers are ubiquitous while mothers from coast to coast feel ashamed to feed their babies in public. Families struggle to make ends meet on one income, and, as one colleague put it, rather than accepting the normal needs of our newborn babies, we as a society are trying to "beat those needs into submission," fighting what God himself has created in this wonderfully interdependent relationship between mother and baby.
I'm giddy with excitement, even as I flounder with the GRE math I'm trying to dust off after years of neglect in the attic of my brain; even as I worry about whether I'll write a good enough statement of purpose or admission essay or, as an IBCLC, be "qualified" for these programs as a bona fide practitioner in the healthcare world. I'm nervous, but optimistic. I'm loving the next step!