Back story: I was at her house and wearing a T-shirt she hated. I had ordered it a few weeks before, and I had just picked it up from my friend's house before heading to NAM's house, and because the weather warmed up--and the T-shirt was in my car, I changed into it at NAM's house. You know what awful message it had on it?
La Leche League International. Worldwide Walk for Breastfeeding 1997.
No tits. No suckling babies. No nipples. No "women who use formula are bad mothers" messages.
NAM was FURIOUS when she saw me wearing the shirt. She first asked me why I put in on, and when I told her that I put it on because I was hot, she said that she could let me wear one of her shirts instead so I could take that one off. She then mentioned something about how "offensive" my shirt was. No one else had a problem with it. Just her. And you had to get pretty close to me to even read it.
A few days later I got a letter in the mail from her. I would have scanned it, but it has names in it, and I don't know how to edit that out of a scanned document.
It's not like me to write a letter but I need to say a few things. I tried to call you Sunday. Either you were out or your caller ID was on.
I sincerely want to apologize for commenting about your T-shirt in the presence of Family Friend and AS. There is no excuse for my rudeness. No matter how strongly I feel about the subject I was wrong. I don't think it is possible for us to understand one another. I find the T-shirt as offensive as one advocating the use of K-Y Jelly over Vaseline. I think breastfeeding is very intimate and personal and there is a very fine line between meeting the need of the child and when it enters someone else's comfort zone.
Your advocacy of breastfeeding comes over very strongly. Your physical discretion is excellent but your attitude exposes all that your discretion covers up.
I think that long-range results of breastfeeding vs formula are so close that it is unfair to believe that formula is so wrong. It is a matter of choice.
I realize you have done a lot of reading about this. But realize that the printed word has always had a strong influence on you in various other subjects. You seem to form strong opinions and I feel you're very knowledgeable. Be careful with this; others often find this very offensive or intimidating. [And by "others" she meant her.]
I will be the first to say that I need to be more tolerant and tactful. I have committed to God that I will be more willing to let his Spirit guide me when I feel the need to express myself.
I love all my children and grandchildren. God has blessed grandmothers with a special view of their families that no one else can see from. The view fills the grandmother with joy but sometimes there is a little pain. I truly want my children to love each other. If we don't have the love of our family, is there anyone else to love us? A common problem between married siblings is the accepting of each other's parenting methods. (Not to mention the grandparents accepting of these methods.) I hope this doesn't become a problem for us. My grandchildren are each very different. Male Grandchild--age 2 is very forceful and Female Grandchild--age 2 [my oldest daughter] is manipulative. With guidance from their parents I see these as future positive traits that can be used in good ways. Each of the others have traits that are thought acceptable or unacceptable by other family members. [A five-year-old, a 10-month-old, and a 6-month-old]. But they are just children and God isn't finished with them yet. Thank heaven this holds true for all of us. I would be very sad to know that I might remain as I am without the opportunity to repent of my ugly ways.
Now to end my letter with a mother's wish and a repeated apology.
You have done an excellent job with breastfeeding but I would like to see you put a little of the time and energy of your interest in it into other worthwhile projects.
Again I apologize for my statement in the presence of others. Please forgive me.
She HATED that we had caller ID. I used it as sort of an answering machine then. I could see if someone had called while we were away, and I could call them back. Many people that we knew then hated leaving messages, so this worked out really well. Once NAM found out we had caller ID, she frequently accused me of avoiding her calls if I didn't answer every time she called--which would often be several times a day.
The Breastfeeding Thing:
OMG. You would have thought I was going around telling her and everyone else that she was a bad mother and did everything wrong because she had used formula for "her babies." It was ok for AS to breastfeed, I guess because she didn't do it for long, and she started force-feeding her child cereal when he was about 2 months old. NAM HATED that I didn't do this. As far as my "strong opinions?" I was scared to say much, but she often complained that I wasn't "feeding" my child because I wasn't giving her baby cereal three times a day when she was three months old. I told NAM that my baby's iron levels were good, and that her growth was on track, according to the doctor, and that he said I didn't need to do any differently.
NAM would make comments like, "You just can't do anything with those breast babies." I also think she was embarrassed because other people knew I was nursing, and that I did it for longer than a month or two. Plus, I got lots of attention (positive attention) from AF's extended family--women who had nursed their children in the 50s and 60s with no support, and when breastfeeding rates were at an all-time low. Husband's parents used to brag to friends and family that I was nursing and would say how easy it was for us to go places because all I had to do was stick diapers and wipes in a bag and go.
She later made a statement about how my daughter was an "experiment," and that we'd have to wait and see how she turned out because she got "too much milk" and "not enough food." NAM hated that the child would eat a huge variety of foods, and that I let her decide when she was ready for solids and would let her pick things up and put them into her mouth--instead of forcing spoonfuls of food in whenever she smiled. NAM also hated that this child was never ill and never took an antibiotic until she was two (shortly after I stopped nursing). Breastfed babies do get sick, and formula-fed babies can be very healthy, so I know that nursing isn't a guarantee of complete health, but NAM had such a problem with it because it wasn't what she did. She also didn't tell me to do it, and she knew nothing about it. Therefore, it was a problem.
And of course, doing anything differently from how NAM does it means you're attacking her methods. You're telling her that she isn't good enough, and that's she's stupid. And that everyone will see, and they won't think she's the center of the universe, all-knowing, and all-seeing.
And I love how she said my two-and-a-half-year-old was "manipulative." And that it would become a future positive trait. She should know.