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.