21 November 2012

A Mother's Influence

Our mother's help shape us in ways we wouldn't imagine. Now that I'm a mother, I can see my mother's influence more clearly.  There are things I do differently, of course, but also similarities.  Perhaps the biggest influence she's had on my parenting is in the area of breastfeeding.

I was born in the early 80s, the youngest of three children, the youngest grandchild on my fahter's side and almost youngest on my mother's side.  I grew up in a State that still has abysmal breastfeeding rates, with under 60% ever breastfeeding.  I don't know what breastfeeding rates were when I was born, but I imagine that number was much lower.  Being the youngest means that I never saw my mother breastfeed, and I only have a vague memory of my aunt breastfeeding.  I can't remember seeing anyone else breastfeed until my nephews were born, though I saw plenty of babies and volunteered in the nursery at our congregation.

While I didn't see breastfeeding much, I often heard my mom talk about it. She talked about how much she'd wanted to continue breastfeeding my brother, but stopped after a short time because he wouldn't latch on.  She talked about how she had longed to breastfeed my sister, but was on a medication that made doing so impossible.  And she talked about how she loved being able to breastfeed me and how I never had a bottle.  Because of that, I grew up hearing the beauty and normality of breastfeeding, and so I never even considered choosing a bottle instead.

Her influence goes beyond just the desire to breastfeed at all, to also influencing the length of time.  M mother breastfeed me for an entire year.  While that doesn't seem long to me now, it is absolutely amazing.  Even now, the majority don't carry on that long; it was even rarer then.  Not only did she carry on, but she did so in the face of people questioning when she's stop. Her mother was a nurse and advised full weaning at 6 months, and still my mother continued.  Hmm, wonder where I get my stubbornness.  In doing that, she taught me that I needn't worry about people's questions when it came to how long I breastfeed.  I certainly received questions when breastfeeding a 2-year-old, but, like my mother, I carried on happily.  I am very thankful for the influence she's had, just by being vocal about her own breastfeeding experiences.  Thank you, Mom.

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