Annette Green, Modi’in, Israel
Annette shares her recent thoughts about resigning as a La Leche League Leader.
Today, I’m writing a very personal column. I have volunteered as an LLL Leader for 14 years. When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter (now 17) I started reading everything I could about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. As luck would have it, I found myself reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I loved reading it and while I’m sure many pregnant women read that book and feel motivated to breastfeed, my motivation was much more ambitious. Before I had even given birth or breastfed, I wanted to be a La Leche League Leader!
I can laugh about it now but I had a very strong feeling that I wanted to be a Leader. Although my birth experience did not end up how I had planned it (I had an emergency Cesarean section), after recovery I put my daughter to my breast and she latched on. Despite a small amount of initial soreness, our breastfeeding journey was quite uneventful.
Before my daughter turned three, I had realized my dream of being an LLL Leader. I am lucky to be part of a committed and active Group of Leaders in Israel. Leaders in Israel have a very long average length of leadership. We have several Leaders who have been involved for more than 25 years and many of the Leaders who were relatively new when I joined, are still actively supporting local mothers in their breastfeeding journeys. I always saw myself continuing to be involved with LLL even as a grandmother knitting sweaters for my grandchildren—full disclosure: I’m already an avid knitter!
Fast forward 14 years: recently I started questioning whether to continue as a Leader. I have been working many more hours in my paid job in the last few years as my clinic has grown. This is work that I love and the income provides for our family and our future. As a lone Leader, I was feeling a little burnt out. My attempts at recruiting potential Leader Applicants have fallen flat. Now that my youngest is six years old and recently started first grade, I definitely feel out of the “baby phase” and more disconnected from the newborn phase and its challenges. And let’s be honest; I started parenting before Facebook and Instagram were even invented! Mothers and their needs and expectations are different today, although as we all know, babies are still the same.
I sat with this feeling for a couple of days. I shared with my family that I was thinking of resigning. I shared all the logical reasons why it was time. I drafted my resignation email and saved it in my drafts folder. My eldest daughter registered her surprise. I said I would sleep on it.
The next day, I reconsidered. I love helping mothers. Maybe hosting monthly meetings as a lone Leader isn’t the right format for me. But I can run online meetings using Zoom and help other native English-speaking mothers living in Israel. I reached out to another Leader who might help me lead locally and share the work involved in running a Group. I also reached out to a couple of Leaders I have worked closely with in the past. I realized how important the relationships with my fellow Leaders are and how much I value our connections even when they are few and far between.
I also realized that being a Leader is a large part of my identity. It has shaped my motherhood in ways I could not have imagined. It has put me in touch with fellow Leaders across this small country that I would never have come in contact with otherwise. Being a Leader has developed my skills in listening and communicating, which have spilled over into other areas of my life. It has allowed me to help countless mothers in some of their most personal circumstances.
La Leche League has been woven into the fabric of my life in the same way that I am an Australian, a knitter, and a reflexologist who is married to a Brit and living in Israel. I’m not putting down my knitting needles anytime soon (someone has to finish that sweater!) or my love of Down Under. I am continuing to support mothers in a way that works for my current circumstances. I am actively seeking ways to be motivated to continue that mission by attending local conferences and reaffirming those long-term friendships formed with other Leaders.
So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, I urge you to think twice before throwing in the towel! Can you reach out to other Leaders to get support? Can you remember what your initial motivation was to be a Leader? Can you find new or different ways to support mothers? Can you give yourself more time to examine what is really causing your desire to resign?
If, after you have followed those steps, you still choose to resign, then I hope you will look back on your years as an LLL Leader with pride for all the mothers you have helped and fondness for the connections formed. I hope that one day breastfeeding will be as simple and natural as possible and our work will no longer be needed.
Annette Green was born and raised in Australia but moved to Israel 20 years ago. She has two daughters and has been a Leader since 2004. Currently, she is a lone Leader of a Group in Modi’in, Israel. She is a contributing editor for Leader Today. Annette has her own holistic health clinic helping women with fertility, pregnancy and menopause challenges.