Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007I've been doing some thinking this week.
Thinking about the whole weaner-gate incident. Thinking about this blog. Thinking about the movement. I've been reading the lectures, tirades and "educational" posts aimed my way by other self-proclaimed lactivists.
...and I've realized something.
This blog isn't for them.
You see, what I'm hearing is that women are up in arms about my comfort level with the idea of nursing my child long term. They're up in arms about my desire to gently wean using "don't offer, don't refuse." But mostly, they're up in arms at my use of the term "lactivist" when it doesn't match up with their own narrowly defined definition of the word.
And I've realized...I don't care.
I don't mean that to sound as harsh or as callous as it does, because I care about these women. I care about any woman who becomes a mother and strives to do the best they can for their child. I want to see women equipped to breastfeed as long as possible. I want to see an environment where those choices are supported.
But ultimately, I'm not sure that's what MY blog is here for.
I've been sitting here asking myself if I have anything left to give to the breastfeeding community with this blog. When I started The Lactivist, it was the only breastfeeding blog out there. Several more popped up in the next few months, but even a year ago, there were only half a dozen of us. Now? There are quite a few breastfeeding blogs out there. I think that's fantastic! But it left me wondering if my time had come to retire and move on. After all, there were plenty of other people ready to step in and take my place, right?
Then last week's incident showed me something. It showed me that I DO serve a valuable niche and that I DO still have a lot of work to do. That's not to say that many of the new breastfeeding blogs aren't fantastic. They are. But we all have our own styles and our own pet topics and our own way of looking at things. And I think there's still some value to the way I do things.
You see, breastfeeding has long been divided into two camps.
There are the "I'll give it a try and see what happens" and the "YOU MUST BREASTFEED" camps...and there really wasn't much in between.
Without realizing it, I'd been crossing the divide between those camps.
My goal here was to share an honest and open account of nursing a baby and a child. It was to share the advice I couldn't find back when I was an exclusively pumping mom and to share the journey of a woman who had become an ardent breastfeeding supporter without ever having been a nursing mom. Being able to share my experiences over the last fourteen months as I experienced nursing for the first time has been amazing.
Then It Got Ugly
Right now, I'm under attack. I'm under attack by mothers who are upset that I'm not pushing "the party line" of their "Lactivist party." They tell me I should be their poster-mom and should reach every single nursing ideal there is. They tell me it's my job as "The Lactivist" to sit on their pedestal while they check off every achievement on the nursing mom's list of accomplishments. They tell me I owe it to them because they need the support.
Now I hate to be the one to break it to them, but it's not my job to be your poster girl. It's not my job to tow your party line and it's not my job to make you feel good about yourself.
It's my job to advocate breastfeeding and to help mothers equip themselves with the information they need to make it as far as they can. I do that by sharing my experiences in an honest and open manner. I do it by not setting up false expectations. I do it by admitting I'm NOT the perfect mom. I do it by showing that even "The Lactivist" has days where she wants to scream at the idea of her child latching on for their eleventy billionth nursing session. I do it by being "so ready to be done" and yet continuing to nurse until I can gently wean my son. I do it by saying "Holy cow, it was totally worth it!"
Why? Because that's reality for many nursing moms.
The day I stop being honest on this blog is the day I need to close it down. Because the day I stop being honest here is the day I become irrelevant to each and every one of those nursing moms who struggles to do what they know is best for their child while balancing the needs of the rest of their family.
If You're Committed to Child Led Weaning, You Rock! (Even if you don't know it)
If you are a nursing mom who has nursed past two years of age and plans on child-led weaning, you don't NEED me. You may want to have my example, but you don't NEED it. You're already "there." You have already shown more spunk and determination than the greatest majority of nursing moms will EVER manage. You've certainly shown more spunk and determination than I have. That's something to be immensely proud of. It's NOT something to turn into a nice little chip you can attach to your shoulder.
You don't NEED anyone else's approval. Not your friends', not your family's and certainly not mine. You may think you do, but deep down, if you really think about it...you don't. You're strong and you're amazing. And I commend you.
The Internet is a vast place and there are legions of discussion forums these days that will support you. Believe me, I've spent my fair share of time in discussion forums with mothers who nurse well past the toddler years and on up into the early school years. Those communities are out there. If you aren't finding what you think you need here, then go looking for them. They'll welcome you with open arms. They'll fill the void you wanted me to fill.
So who am I here for?
I'm here for the mom who thinks they may want to breastfeed, but isn't sure.
I'm here for the mom who wanted to breastfeed, but wasn't able to.
I'm here for the mom who got kicked out of a restaurant for daring to think her child could enjoy a meal there too.
I'm here for the mom who has found herself EPing and has no idea how to keep going.
I'm here for the mom who thought it was "weird" to nurse a one year old, until her nursling turned one.
(and yes, I'm also here for the mom who thought it was weird to nurse a three year old, until her nursling turned three.)
I'm here for the mom who finds herself with a freezer full of milk her child will never manage to drink and who wants to know about milk donation.
I'm here for the mom who is at her wits end and needs to know it's ok to be frustrated.
I'm here for the mom who wants to keep going, but needs to take care of her family and wants to learn how to gently wean.
I'm here for the father who knows nothing about breastfeeding, but wants to learn to support his wife.
I'm here for the grandmother or grandfather who remembers when breastfeeding was "for poor people and hippies" but did it anyway.
I'm here for the grandmother or grandfather who formula fed and wants to learn how to support their children in a new choice.
I'm here for ANYONE who wants to learn how to promote breastfeeding by educating and uplifting nursing moms.
I'm here for ANYONE who is tired of seeing other mothers be put down for their choices so someone else can feel better about theirs.
I welcome anyone to this blog who wants to be part of a community that's honest and open. One that shares the joys and the pains. That's what I do here. I may not reach your ideals and I may occasionally tick you off. I'm ok with that. Most of my readers are too. If you aren't, then this blog isn't written for you.
And I'm done apologizing for it.
With all that said, I'm done with this topic folks. I'll still be here talking about breastfeeding, weaning, milk donation, lactivism and any number of other issues. I'm happy to carry on the conversation in the comments sections of these posts, but I'm through making posts defending my right to be who I am or trying to explain my position and my reasons to those who clearly have no interest in hearing them.
So here's a challenge.
Hate my blog? That's ok, stop reading. Feel free to tell others to stop reading.
Love my blog? Keep reading and let other moms in on the secret that there's a place to go to learn about breastfeeding and get honest and open support without judgment.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. ;)