Learning to be an Amma

Umother-holding-baby-drawing-246x300ntil we arrived in Portland on April 17th, I had only seen my son three times for a few days each since leaving him with the Mamas last May. He was 5 weeks old when I let him go.

We just celebrated his first birthday.

Between May and September I went through an intense grieving process, letting go of being my son’s Mommy so that my heart-sister could be. I needed the distance and separation for my process. The Mamas did, too, so that they could establish and feel secure in their relationship with him.

The last time I saw my son was when the adoption was finalized in February. I went to court with the Mamas and happily witnessed as they were granted the legal and cultural recognition of being his parents. There were some little pangs of heartache, but I mostly felt joy and peace.

As of our arrival two weeks ago, I live with our son and the Mamas in a smallish two bedroom apartment. I am a part of his daily life. Adapting to being one of his caretakers is easy, both because he is my child and because I know babies. Co-parenting with the Mamas is easy because they make it so. Everyone is flexible and communicative. Everyone is happy to be involved and yet not be the only one responsible to meet his needs. On the outside, this is much easier than what our culture would have you believe is possible.

It’s navigating this new and strange sort of motherhood within my heart that is complicated. Especially when he cries and cries with pain or frustration.

I am not Mommy or Baba. I am Amma.

My heart doesn’t always know the difference.

I cannot always be, should not always be, the first to respond to his cry. Sometimes it’s appropriate. Sometimes I can pick him up and soothe him. Hold him close to my chest. Sing him songs or whisper my love to him as he calms and falls asleep in my arms. But more often that is the Mamas’ place. They chose to be his primary caretakers.

Most of the time it’s easy to let them do most of the care-giving. I am sharing him with the Mamas because I don’t want to be a full-time parent anymore. The past year’s separation allowed me to relinquish much of my sense of responsibility.

Occasionally I feel possessive because wordless parts of me, biological and emotional, still sense that it’s my place to take care of him and comfort him. Sometimes I feel a tug in my heart that I can’t act on because his Mommy is already doing so. And I know that there is a good chance that tug will always exist.

This is the price of my freedom. Some days I’m still angry at the Universe that my freedom from full time mothering comes with any price at all when most women get to know at least a few years of freedom before or after children without having to give something up.

But most days I know that the gift of our magical baby is the most powerful manifestation of my superpower, my life’s purpose, which is creative generosity. I birth beauty into the world to share with others – whether children or writing or random acts of arty kindness or transformational events. This is simply who I am.

It is my years of practicing polyamory that allow me to navigate the difficult feelings with grace. I know how to look jealousy and possessiveness in the eye. I know that I can bear any feelings that arise and that they are always temporary. I know that love is limitless and that Lake will love all of us deeply yet differently. I know what compersion is and how to nurture it in my heart.

Sometimes I hold him and feel to the depths of my bones that he is mine. Sometimes I think he instinctively knows he is mine. He and I have something deep and special because he lived inside of me. But it is not the same as being his Mommy.

Being an Amma is a new sort of motherhood. It’s a new sort of loving another human in the most profound way possible, and for the first time sharing that life-altering love with others.

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