Thursday, August 1, 2013

We are mammals.

Dial into Nursing Freedom's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week.

It serves us well to feed our babies at the breast.  We are, after all, mammals.  It is easy toforget, sometimes.  I mean, it is true that we don't look like other mammals.  We are more fashionably dressed, for example.  Fashionable clothing can sometimes inhibit our ability to act like mammals. 

We usually have homes to keep and furnish, jobs to attend to, quotas to meet, Jones' to keep up with.  These things too, can inhibit our ability to function as the scientific class we were born into.   Being a mammal is one of the most profound aspects of our identity as humans.  It defines how we conceive, how we carry offspring, how we birth, and of course, we are mammals because of how we feed our young.  Mammals are usually defined as "raising their young in a warm and loving manner."

How we nurture.  How we are supposed to nurture.  We are mammals.  

No doubt about that.  

But there is another quality, also often overlooked that is vital to living a full and vibrant life.  Mammals live in community.  Except for a very specialized few mammals, the vast majority of mammals are social creature.  They live in an established social structure.  We need each other. 

We need to interact in person.  

We are designed to interact, to learn from each other.  Breastfeeding is a learned behaviour.  We should be learning from our mothers and aunts and older sisters and neighbours.  But we are  not a breastfeeding culture now.  The pendulum is swinging back, but generation to generation, grass roots movements take time.  

To augment the return to a culture, a community where we act like mammals, there are three things we can each do.  And these three things really are the basis for a functional community.

We must be mentors.  We must be an example, gentle and loving to those around us.  Leading through example of gentle parenting, (or anything else!) is effective.  Allow people into your life so they can witness functional gentle discipline, and the foundational mother-child relationship that lays the groundwork for healthy people.  We must be bold. 

We must be peers.  We must interact in love and respect to those around us.  We must share our sorrows and our joys, allow others to help us and help others.  Friendships where we are peers, where we are growing together, raising children together, having the same questions and concerns together are vital.  We have a need to know that everything is normal.  Or not normal.  We must be accepting.

We must be students.  There is something to learn from everyone, even those whose parenting may differ from our own.  Even from someone a generation or two older.  From those with less experience than us.  We must be humble.  Social animals learn from each other.  Even suckling babies is learned behaviour.  Natural, yes.

 Intuitive mothering is less intuitive than it ought to be because mothers in areas or at times in history are affected by parenting philosophies around them shared the patterns of behaviour. Patterns of reaction.  To reestablish communities, loving and supporting mothers and families, the cell of society, we must all play a part. 

To live in community, a nurturing, loving  and empathetic community of families, we must actively be all these things, mentors, peers and students.  It is through this that we can create and sustain the communities that we are meant to be.  Social creatures, liiving out our mammalhood.  


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