My first blog post, in June, 2010, a few months after my 1st granddaughter was born, was an explanation of “Amma”–
It’s my grandmothering name.
According to Mary Earle, author of The Desert Mothers: Spiritual Practices from the Women of the Wilderness, “these women lived in the fourth and fifth centuries, C.E. The ammas, as they were called, help us to find ways to gently pay attention to God’s presence with us…The word means mother. It came to refer to those women who were spiritual mothers to many. Their insistence on practicing silence, solitude and stillness provides a kind of medicine for our over-heated, frenetic culture.”
That’s what I want to be for Adaline. Her Amma. I don’t think I’ll be running through parks with her or climbing jungle gyms. But I can be a quiet, restful, peaceful presence in her busy and stimulating world. I’m already good at getting her to sleep, so I think I’m on the right track.
My older daughter and I have had a tempestuous relationship over the years. When it was good it was really good, but when it was bad, it was pretty bad. Normal stuff, but unpredictable and inconsistent.
Last week I got to be Amma for Maggie–”a quiet, restful presence in her busy and stimulating world.” I was able to give Stephanie several breaks (long enough to take a shower) over the three days I was in Raleigh. Maggie was content when I held her.
Stephanie called me “the Baby Whisperer” and told me she was grateful for my presence.
I asked her to tell me again. She laughed and repeated her sweet words.
Parenting is hard work from the 1st day. And, if we’re lucky, it doesn’t ever really end. The rewards and thank you’s, however, can be rare. (My girls did thank me a few years ago for teaching them manners.)
I was not the mother I wanted to be when my girls were small. Almost 25 years ago, I made a tough choice to work hard to change myself and my behavior.
With God’s grace I became a better mother. My daughters think my guidance is worth listening to. They trust me with their daughters. I am so grateful for their respect and love.
Now, with God’s help, I’m learning how to be Amma. I (try to) wait until I’m asked to give advice. I listen a lot and say, “That’s normal.”
I’m taking better care of myself–eating healthy, exercising, washing hands, getting enough sleep. I am determined to live long enough to see my daughters parent teenage girls!
And I will pray for all of them. (And then giggle from the sidelines.)