Sunday, August 1, 2010

Perspectives: Breastfeeding From Every Angle

My watercolor attempt to capture how I see breastfeeding from 2 different perspectives.

From where I sit right now feeding Smunchie in our broken-in spot on the large, avocado corduroy couch surrounded by tomato red pillows (didn't realize my couch sounded so much like a salad) I have fairly decent view of the kitchen, living room, part of the hall and if I twist my neck I can crane to see a portion of the family room/dinning room. But I have learned something important in even my playhouse sized home- I can't trust that I can really see everything. Aside from the obvious blind spots, I can also easily miss what's going on or even potential dangers or challenges for my kids. On the advice of some baby book I read once upon a time, I get down on the floor every once in a while and check out the view from my kids' perspectives. It is often when I'm there that potential hazards I hadn't noticed or considered from my angle jump out at me and I make the necessary changes or simply understand better what life is like for my children. Patience grows in me when I take that time to see what they see and as they get a little older to hear what they hear and what they need me to hear but don't always know how to say. Sometimes the pace of my life feels too busy and I can't imagine taking more time out to view life, even briefly, from all the different perspectives of my 5 children. But I find that when I do I can change what I say and do to better help them and my frustrations ease tremendously as I have a new understanding of their position. Gentle growth comes from such a simple step.

Phone pic of my perspective while nursing Smunchie and cuddling Squiggle Bug.

Breastfeeding can be funny, easy, hard, bonding, frustrating, isolating, boring, exciting, impossible, scary, beautiful, fulfilling, torturous, sweet, heartbreaking, simple, sad, tender, complicated, and so much more. My perspective on breastfeeding altered with each of my babies and even during the course of each breastfeeding relationship. Sometimes in imperceptible ways, others monumental. All real. Each experience shaped me and gave me a different perspective. The truth is, all of that could be said about a lot of things in parenting, really, in life.

7 year old Lolie and I did breastfeeding mama block crayon drawings, it was a collaborative effort.

Whether they realize it or not, everyone has a perspective on breastfeeding, even if they have never considered it. Perhaps they love it or think it's good but just not for them. Maybe it makes them uncomfortable or they get a little excited when they see breastfeeding. There is a huge range of perspectives on breastfeeding, some positive and some not, just as there is a huge range of experience with breastfeeding. We can't possibly know and understand everyone's individual journey. Shoot, sometimes it takes a while before I even understand my own! From where we sit we don't have the whole picture. When we take the time to see breastfeeding from other view points we learn a lot, about ourselves, about others, and probably about the world. We have the opportunity to reconsider what we know and what we do and this could actually change us or serve to make us more firm in our convictions and choices. This is why I like to sit, as The Leaky B@@b bartender, and listen to the stories, views and experiences of others on breastfeeding and then share it with you. Whatever comes of it, we will grow, gently stretching ourselves. And hopefully, by being willing to view other perspectives, even ones we don't agree with, the chance for conversation and change will happen and more and more the different perspectives on breastfeeding will all have at least one common theme: beauty.

This week's blog carnival "Perspectives: Breastfeeding From Every Angle" I hope helps you do just that. To experience, just briefly, the perspective others have. May we grow gently.

My photographer Marc's perspective of 6 month old Smunchie and me breastfeeding at a park down town.


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