Staying in Tune
Webster NY USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 6, November-December 2002, pp. 210
An anticipated invitation to a family friend's out-of-town wedding finally arrived addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Weetman. Our two-year-old son, Kyle, apparently was not invited. When I called the mother of the bride to find out for sure, she confirmed my suspicion: no children were welcome at the outdoor, morning ceremony. Kyle, however, could come to the reception. My emotions bounced around from disappointment to anger to disbelief. I had hoped the engaged couple would have seen and appreciated the bond Kyle and I have at other family events—and how comfortable and well behaved he is when I am around.
Despite this glitch in our plans, my husband and I decided to attend the wedding. We indicated that three people would attend the reception, but only one person would attend the ceremony. We decided we would figure out later who the "one" would be.
The day of the wedding arrived and I felt nervous and a little resentful that I was in this situation. My husband and I decided that I would attend the ceremony. Before the service began, I breastfed Kyle and explained where I would be and what he and his father would do. He seemed very comfortable with everything and was soon off exploring. Kyle and his dad walked around the gardens and saw fountains, wildlife, and flowers.
At the reception we worked together to meet everyone's needs. Sometimes the three of us sat together and ate, read stories, or colored. Other times one of us walked around with Kyle. We danced together and had a good time. Kyle was the only child in attendance. Many times during the reception other guests came up to me and commented on what a "good boy" I had. I tried to explain my parenting philosophy: I carefully monitor Kyle's needs and he always accompanies me, so he's used to being in all kinds of situations.
I often wonder why more parents do not understand what comes so naturally to my family. Keeping Kyle with me seems to me to be an extension of my mothering style. I believe in a gentle birth, no separation, and breastfeeding early and often. I have a a great desire to try to communicate and understand my son and I respect him and his developmental needs. I feel lucky that I am comfortable trusting my instincts in mothering and am able to understand and nurture my toddler through breastfeeding.
La Leche League meetings give us the opportunity to meet our children's needs while we meet our own adult needs. Children also learn about different aspects of the adult world: sometimes we use quiet voices, we take turns speaking, and we gather together to support each other. There have been many meetings where Kyle is content to sit on my lap nursing, eating a snack, or quietly reading a book. Other times he needs more space or wants to interact with the other children present. In La Leche League there is acceptance of my parenting philosophy. It is so nice to know that, even though my style of parenting is not the cultural norm, I can be comfortable parenting in a way that respects my child's needs.