It Takes a Child to Raise a Village

Friday, May 10, 2013

By Anna Hirsch
Anna with her friend's oldest child

My Mama's Day story begins in a place that is unfamiliar to many: polyamory. If you don't know that word, that's probably because you've never known any way to have a romantic relationship other than with one other person, or with one person at a time. That's the way most people do relationships and it may be the only way you've ever learned relationships can be. But the truth is that you have always had the power to choose how your relationships work. I didn’t know growing up that one day I would be married and have a boyfriend. But here I am with two loving and committed relationships. Plus, my husband and my boyfriend are friends.

Yes, choosing to be less fearful and less insecure and to invite more love into my life has not always been easy. But it is a choice that I make every day, willingly and happily. And it has transformed how I love myself and how I treat others in almost every way, including how I understand family and build community.

Chip in $5 to support our work in 2016 and beyond >>

A year and a half ago, I leaned into my sister's cheek while she clutched my hand. Instead of telling her to breathe, I just breathed deeply myself, letting her hear my love in every calm inhale and every strong exhale. I couldn't do what she was doing. And neither I nor my sister could do what that little baby inside her was doing. But all of us somehow were working together to reveal the mystery of life.

I am so grateful for that first birth experience, watching my sister become a mama. Yet some of my dearest polyamorous friends are still surprised to hear me say that. You see, this woman is not my biological sister. She is my friend and someone whose camaraderie I have cherished. She is also one of my husband’s sweethearts.

After a year spent preparing for the birth of an adorable, smart, incredibly delightful baby, we adopted each other as sisters. We also adopted each other as sisters because we had decided—like many of my closest friends—that love is thicker than blood, and that love is abundant. It was love that gave me the courage to ask my friend to be her birthing companion. We were a team, in fact, with both of the potential fathers pitching in as well.

No, it was not the pregnancy that my husband and I had been hoping or planning for, but when she decided to keep the baby I knew firmly that I was not about to disappear on my dear friend who I loved. And though there was some relief to find out later that my husband was not the father, the relief was mixed with love for this new little being and incredible gratitude for my friend and how she cared deeply for my feelings, all while grappling with her own frustrations and questions about the future. Together we chose love, for ourselves, for the baby, for the future, and because of that choice we both gained a sister. It is a very happy thing for me to have discovered that family really is right there waiting for me in every person that I meet if I allow myself to care about them.

Every day that I wake up and choose polyamory I know it is because I cannot just turn love off. I found this out again with my sister. I love both of her children like they are family. I cannot fit that love into tidy compartments. Love simply flows through me. I love consciously and actively. My love will always be available to everyone, including myself. I choose to love myself through my insecurity and fear. And I owe a lot to a little baby who came into the world loving and only knowing how to share her love with whoever showed up to care for her.

Chip in $5 to support our work in 2016 and beyond >>

Today, I dream of a village where people work together and help each other. I dream of a village where everyone has the chance to enjoy their lives. This village is awakened over and over again by the unconditional love of children. What we can learn from children about how to be nonjudgmental of each other and how to play and learn together is infinite. The arguments young people have are deeply rooted in their needs, not in ideas about how relationships should be and not in bigotry or even in systems of oppression, which must be learned.

What I have learned is that when family comes into my life there is no response except yes. This experience, this mama, my sister, and her children, have helped me see that I can have the village of my dreams, simply by showing up with love.

Anna Hirsch, awesomeness whisperer, is an activist, artist, counselor, and runner who lives and loves in Oakland, CA, and invites you to visit her blog to learn more about polyamory and to check out her portfolio at to learn about hiring her for your editing/writing needs.

This blog post is part of the Strong Families Mama’s Day Our Way celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blogStrong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. May we all co-create this village!

  2. You are brave, honest and amazing.
    I love you dearly and deeply.

  3. Thank you for writing this. Love and light to you and your family.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement. It is really good to hear.