I have been thinking a lot lately about all the women who influenced my thoughts on breastfeeding. I would have to say that my Aunts were a great influence as I was growing up. In adulthood, I have been influenced by friends and especially my sister-in-law.
After graduating college I returned home three months after the birth if my niece. My brother and his wife brought the first grandchild into our family. I was an aunt for the first time. They really wanted someone to watch her in the home and I gladly took the job.
I loved caring for her and watching her sleep. In many ways, those six months that I cared for her really helped to shape me as a mother. I had babysat from the age of 12 but this was different. I was in charge if her care from about 7:30am until around 3 PM. I fed her, changed her, soothed her and gave her medicine when she was sick. It was a wonderful experience for me.
My sister-in-law breastfed her until she was about a year old. She had to return to work as an elementary school music teacher when my niece was 3 months old. So, as you can imagine, they were still really in the phase of nursing quite often.
My SIL asked if I would bring the baby up to her school at lunch every day so that she could nurse her on her break. I was more than happy to oblige. Each day I would drive my niece to school, which took 30 min., to see her mama. I would really try hard to time her pumped bottles in the morning to make sure she was ready to nurse when we got there but not too hungry in the car.
Sometimes I misjudged and she would scream and cry the whole way there. That was always hard, as I would have to just keep driving while she cried in order to get there in time to see her mama. I would sing to her and talk to her but often times she could not be soothed until she saw her mama’s sweet face.
My SIL was so strong and determined to breastfeed her baby. She pumped through the day and I always had enough pumped milk to feed my niece. As soon as she came home from work she would sit in her recliner and nurse her daughter. She was amazing and I have always admired her strength. She helped shape me into the mother I am today.
So, thank you,sister, for all that you did for my niece and thank you for being such a wonderful role model for me.
I love you!
As of April 1st 2014 I have become a stay-at-home mom again! I couldn’t be more thrilled with my new daily routine. It has been a joy to wake up knowing that I get to spend the whole day with our precious daughter. We have been enjoying taking long walks and having nature scavenger hunts, reading till we can’t read anymore, singing, playing the piano, painting and dancing. It is what I always longed to do.
Having said all that, I have recently gotten out of the swing of writing on my blogs. So in order to get back into the groove I have decided to try a couple of things to get me started again.
On Mondays I am going to try writing about a memory, “Memorable Mondays”
Wednesdays will be “Wordless Wednesdays”, where I will try to post a photo or an inspiring image I have found.
Thursdays will be “Thoughtful Thursdays”. I will try to share an inspirational quote or verse.
So here we go…..
Memorable Monday #1
When I was a teenager, I had an Aunt who was breastfeeding her first daughter. My aunt has always been a very strong, independent woman and she came across to me as a very confident breast-feeder. She would feed my cousin whenever she was hungry. No matter where we were. She was the first of my 8 aunts that I ever saw feeding outside of the back room at my grandmother’s house. She always had on clothing that provided easy access for nursing and she laughed when my little cousin would call out “teta mama teta!”. Her eyes sparkled when she laughed and smiled down at her growing baby.
I remember one particular occasion when the whole family was taken aback by her nursing in public. We were at my oldest cousin’s wedding. My brothers and I were singing at the altar when we looked out at the pews to see my aunt opening up her blouse and exposing her breast so that her baby could drink. My youngest brother gasped and we all tried to hold in our giggles.
After the wedding was over my other relatives and my grandmother lovingly teased her about showing so much of her skin and all wondered how she could dare breastfeed during a wedding and in a church pew for that matter. It became a family inside joke that everyone had seen Aunt ***’s breasts. She never seemed to mind and laughed along with everyone else.
My Aunt also breastfeed her children longer than any of my other aunts. Her oldest nursed until the age of three. Everyone nagged her about weaning and even I joined in on the teasing. Me, a childless teenager, teasing my aunt about breastfeeding. I can’t even imagine doing something like that now. She took it all in stride though. At least that is what I gathered from the outside….
Now here I am still breastfeeding my 4 1/2 year old daughter and the shoe is on the other foot. I get occasional questions from family members about when I am going to wean. But the fact that I live across the ocean and only see my family for about 2 weeks out of a year probably has something to do with that. I think I am the most blatant public nurser in my family. And when I nursed her in the pews of both my grandparents funerals last summer, they all turned a blind eye.
I truly believe that although I didn’t know it at the time, watching my aunt nurse with such confidence helped mold me into the mother I am today. The memories I have of being around her while she breastfed her children gives me courage and strength and help me to feel like what I am doing is normal and natural. So, although I am not going to mention her name, I know she will know this is about her when she reads it and I want to tell her thank you. Thank you, dear aunt, for being brave and fearless. Thank you for being strong and confident and for showing me how beautiful this experience truly is. I love you.
Thank you to all the mothers out there that nourish their children in the company of others. You may not know it, but you are paving the way for so many other mothers. You have the ability to change the way breastfeeding is perceived. You can make a difference in the lives of those around you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Being married is hard. It is a lot harder than the fairy tales I read as child led me to believe. Having parents and grandparents who loved each other madly was beautiful. I also feel like I only saw the good and used that as a base for my expectations of my own marriage. I am sure that my parents struggled. I am sure that my grandparents struggled. But I chose not to focus on those aspects when building my expectations for my future.
Having expectations is one sure way to build up resentment. When you have no expectations, it’s harder to feel let down. If I could go back and enter in with no expectations, I would. But I can’t live in the past. I am here in the present. I can strive to let go of those expectations and live in and find joy in my reality.
“Each of us is caught up in an idea of happiness. If we can release our idea of true happiness, true happiness is born in us right away” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Why is it that we can speak to our daughter with kindness and love and patience but we can’t do the same with each other?
With my husband,
There are days when I really feel like I could’ve been a better version of myself.
There are days when I fail at being kind, loving, patient, and less easily offended.
There are days when I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew.
There are days when I feel like I can’t do anything right.
There are days when I just want to sit in the corner and cry. Cry until I am as dry as the desert.
There are days when I really don’t know where to go.
There I days when I wish I could go back to sleep and wake up and start over again.
There are days when I am jealous and in turn act out in anger.
There are days when I lash out with sarcasm and name calling.
There are days when words come out of my mouth that I can never take back.
There are days when I wish I could be more like the role models I grew up believing I would eventually become.
There are days.
There are days.
I am imperfect. I am human. I make mistakes. I hurt feelings. I feel hurt.
Thich Nhat Hanh has some amazing words of comfort and inspiration. I share them here to remind myself.
“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
“When you say something really unkind, when you do something in retaliation your anger increases. You make the other person suffer, and he will try hard to say or to do something back to get relief from his suffering. That is how conflict escalates.”
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
“Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.”