|The "Womanly Art of Breastfeeding"|
|The Amazing art of Christopher Malatesta|
My entry into parenthood did not come fifty years ago. Mine came almost forty four years ago, back in the day when "cool" things were just starting to emerge in the world of motherhood and when the words "natural childbirth" were only spoken in places where kids who's moms sprinkled wheat germ on their oatmeal hung out. There was a nasty war going on in Vietnam, our friends were going off to some place we had not even heard about in our geography classes, and not returning. We still remembered where we were when we first heard of the gigantic traffic jam on the New York Thruway, caused by people heading off to a place called "Woodstock", and college romances always led to weddings soon after graduations. Oh, I could list so many more things that would describe those days, but I have an aversion to those things we get via forwarded emails, that make us sit, read and reminisce ad nauseum. I'm just going to say that there were some of us who were on the cusp when it came to the new age, long before a lot of things became "cool". I know that one day, in the not-too-distant future, I will be writing volumes more about all of this but for now, let me tell my little story.
The first photo, the black and white, shows the founding mothers of the LaLeche League. They were a group of moms who took on the noble task of making sure that the world knew of the benefits of breastfeeding babies, something that had gone out of vogue many years prior to that time. The little group grew and grew, becoming an international organization, one that would be referred to later on as a "militant"group. Yes, they were. No, they were not. They simply had a great idea, one that could possibly make babies healthier and moms happier should they chose that route. They believed that babies came first, no matter what method of feeding. Babies took time and it was time well spent. We moms had questions, they had answers. We had zero support from our moms and most of our friends, they had tons of it and it was that support that became the incubator for countless friendships, fifty years before the internet and the cold face of Facebook. And it was at a LaLeche League gathering, one that I needed to attend so badly after relocating to Cape Cod, that I met a group of women who I shall never forget. One of them was a tiny, soft-spoken, kind-hearted person who also had a baby girl. She gave birth to another baby girl and eventually, to a baby boy who she named Christopher.
I recognized the name but it wasn't until I saw him, his dad and his sister last Tuesday afternoon, working together so lovingly, to hang his huge show at the Cultural Center, that I put it all together. A young, emerging artist, getting ready for a huge show. And, it was at the opening reception of that huge show that we re-united. Two moms, two dads, grown children, big hugs and smiles. Christopher's older sister is now forty one. My daughter is also forty one. And yes, we spent many happy hours together, nursing our babies, something that we'll always remember and cherish. For us, it was an art form or at least that is the height to which we elevated it.