Random thoughts on multi-generational large family life: in the past as a child, now as a parent

I recently ran across my baby book and found a breastfeeding instruction sheet that the hospital had given to my mother when I was born. This was back in the mid 70’s and I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the funny backwards thinking in regards to breastfeeding.
Such as, Instruction #3:

“The first day or two, allow baby to nurse the breast only a few minutes, 5 minutes at the most, then gradually increase the nursing time as you have more breast milk.”

Other mentions of not feeding the baby until you have scrubbed your hands with the “wash-up” package (washing hands is good), or cleaning the breast with soap and water (which is not recommended now) and not to smoke after you have cleaned your hands (??).
It is amazing that my mother successfully nursed 5 children each for lengthy periods of time in an age when breastfeeding was not common place. Even today, it is not really considered normal for longer than a few weeks.
As a child, I remember my mother breastfeeding my brother and I know she didn’t follow a limited nursing approach… It seemed as though she was always feeding my brother. A big baby who is now towering over 6 feet.
I learned more than I realized though my observations of my own mother and how she cared for my siblings. She was a stay-at-home mother when many women were out of the home climbing the corporate ladder. I have distinct memories of sitting in the rocking chair with her while she nursed my baby brother and read us stories. In fact, I have many memories of her nursing and some even still of her being pregnant and being able to sit a plate of food on her large basketball belly. I saw first hand and was involved on a daily basis in the logistical operations of a bigger than normal family. Not that I run my family in the same exact ways, but the point I am trying to make is that the logistical aspect of the large family home, are not in the slightest shocking to me; overwhelming at times..YES…but not shocking. As a child, my mom bought huge amounts of food, drove a large suburban, always had a massive amount of laundry, had a massive, loud and lively supper table, did lots of dishes, and got the, “Are they all yours” questions when we were out in public. Similarly today, though now experiencing the life of the large family through the parenting role, I buy large quantities of food, drive a big vehicle, have lots of laundry and a huge, loud and lively supper table, do lots of dishes and still get the “Are they all yours” questions when we are out in public.
When the time came for me to be the mother, my mother was a wealth of information and support. Though I was, like all new mothers, inexperienced, I was not shocked or baffled when it came to breastfeeding or caring for a newborn. It was not a bit awkward due in part to me seeing how relaxed my mother was when it came to breastfeeding or holding a baby. I did, like all new parents, learn a hard lesson self-less-ness! Even now, when dealing with a wide range of ages, I find myself doing things with my children that my own mother did with us. From story telling to outdoor activities to creative play, many ideas that I have had have been lit or spurred by the memories of how my childhood was. Sure many things are drastically different, however, my overall abilities to deal with certain situations, have been profoundly influenced by how my mother and father dealt will similar situations when we were growing up — good and bad.
Because I have seen how these influences affect the next generation, I believe it is important to look upon my duty not only as a here and now calling, but as a calling that empowers generations.
Like all new mothers, inexperience is quickly cured and immaturity can soon be overcome by living a self-less life with caring for and training children. For now, I have identified certain areas of my life where I have struggled and have determined to make efforts to prepare my daughter for these areas of life that she will one day be facing as a wife and mother. Even in those areas where I do not particularly struggle, it is important to pass this knowledge and know how down to her, with the expectation that she will be launched farther than where I am today. I am thankful for Godly parents and grandparents for generations past, who because of them, have made a way for me to grow further in the Lord not for my own benefit, but for the purpose of furthering my children and grandchildren for generations to come.
Mother

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