Written by Kamalamani
Reviewed by Nancy Eichhorn
“I hope to create a ‘pregnant pause’ for conscious decision-making with a glimpse of the local and global implications.” (p.18)
I envy Kamalamani’s clarity. Reading her newest publication, Other Than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind, A Private Decision with Global Consequences, it was clear that she’s thought about children, motherhood, parenting, and her role in all of this for most of her life. At age 14, she writes, the seed was planted—she couldn’t understand how billions of the world’s inhabitants lacked access to food, water, shelter, how people could damage our environment, and still “carried on having babies when there were all these orphans in the world” (p. 125). Like many teens, she made a pact that she’d have children by a specific age, for Kamalamani that time was to arrive before she turned at 30. But decisions made in youth were replaced with the ebb and flow of life happening in the moment. Drawn to the Bodhisattva path in her 20s, she realized that having children was a choice despite the fact that having children “remains such a culturally affirming, biologically gratifying and for many, very fulfilling role” (p. 141).
From this stance of choice, she continued her path of awakening through her Buddhist studies and meditation practice, by bringing the Dharma and its teachings not only into her life but into her outreach with her work, her community, and in a larger sense her global impact. The theme of choice filters through her thoughts as she considered pros and cons, highs and lows, and whys and why nots of baby-making/motherhood from a conscious and conscientious point of view. Her decision-making process was/is informed by her work as a body psychotherapist, a supervisor, a friend to women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are deciding about motherhood, an ecopsychologist, and a researcher. It is clearly influenced by her meditation practice and Buddhism and her curiosity about how to live life, as well as augmented by 17 years of research into this topic.
One of her goals in writing this book was to fill a gap in the literature—while there were academic books and case studies available, she said there weren’t any user-friendly, go-to books that looked into the decision-making process of baby-making and its global implications. Kamalamani writes that she hopes to “throw light” on her “particular decision-making process rather than prescribe whether or not anyone should or shouldn’t have children” (p. 18). Writing didn’t flow easily at first, she shares; yet, the “backbone of the book flowered” when she “realized it needed to be about choosing life rather than life being over because of my childlessness” (p. 20). She explores what that choice means as well as the endless forms that life takes.