Wednesday, December 08, 2010


December 7 – Community.

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

(Author: Cali Harris)

I've been desperately searching for community in some ways; in other ways, I'm overwhelmed by the generosity with which I am both welcomed and received for the gifts I bring. On the surface, I feel very alone. My parents moved away when my first baby was 2 months old. I had taken this job nearly 8 years prior because it would afford me the opportunity to be close to them as they aged. The news of their plans to move to South Carolina, a 14-hour drive away, devastated me. I have not yet been able to forgive my father for taking my mother away from me just as I was becoming a mother myself.

So, isolated from family (my husband's family is half a country away, in Iowa ... not always a bad thing) and not sure where I fit (I wasn't like the "working moms" I knew but I didn't feel accepted by the stay-at-home moms, either), I began to feel very alone. I found my community in La Leche League, with difficulty at first, but as I followed my heart in my mothering and gained support for the choices I found myself swept into by the immense love I felt for my daughter, I knew I was "one of them."

I was among the first accredited Leaders to be employed outside the home; throughout my application process, I clearly articulated my understanding and embracement of the philosophy that "a baby has an intense need for his mother which is as basic as his need for food," and therefore was welcomed by the organization (but not, at first, by all of its members!) to support other mothers in their quest to mother through breastfeeding. I continue to enjoy helping mothers nurture and enjoy their babies as they were created to do. I know that this community -- La Leche League and the wider community of International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) I have become a part of -- provides an outlet for my calling.

In considering my desire for community in 2011, I realize two important things: one, that breastfeeding and mothering through breastfeeding is the biological norm for a mother and her baby, created by God. To me, this understanding has put to rest any feelings of doubt that have been shoved down my throat by the society of which I am part ... my need to mother my children and to be present for them, at any cost, is something I am no longer afraid to honor, because this is how God intended for it to be. I would like to find and connect with my Catholicism through the community of other Catholics, so that I may learn from them and teach them as I have learned to do in La Leche League. The second realization I've made is that our society makes it difficult, if not impossible, for mothers to connect with this instinctual need to BE mothers. Pacifiers, the "freedom" of bottle-feeding, forcing mothers to return to unfriendly workplaces, the resistance to breastfeeding in public are all parts of this whole that create a disconnect. Until this undercurrent of policy and cultural norms is altered, the obstacles will stand. I will begin, in 2011, down a path toward a master's degree in public health, so that I may use my skills and passion to help enact those changes.

It takes a village to raise a child. No mother should have to feel alone.

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