by Teresa J. Mitchell
Newborns and infants need love, closeness, food, sleep, a clean diaper and regular visits to the pediatrician. Kids need a warm responsive parent providing loving, consistent care, balanced with discipline.
What happens when the mother needs "mothering" and can't meet all of her child's needs?
That's when the "other mother" can step in. An "other mother" doesn't have to be a woman. These special people "mother" a child when the biological parent can not. Sometimes grandparents, uncles and aunts, family friends, neighbors, teachers or even distant acquaintances step up to help out when a child needs support.
Mothering can be compared to a pie chart. Each child's "mom" pie chart looks different. In some, the biological mom covers most of the circle. Other kids have a more diverse pie that has relatives and family friends contributing a large part of the care.
Misha, a pregnancy.org member shares, "My mom was very childish and needed to be mothered. She even had other ladies who helped take care of her. One day, one of the helpers explained it to me. She said that everyone has "mom pies." Moms can't be everything that a child needs so they get other moms. All those people make up their mom pies."
In a healthy relationship, the mom takes up most of the pie. In some families, it's the grandmas and aunts, picking up the slack when mom can't. In cases where the mom isn't capable of mothering, then the "other mothers" make up a larger part of the mom pie.
Let's take a look out how some "other mothers" fill out pies.
"Just swinging by": This helper swings by to drop off a casserole and stays to read your child a story or tuck the child in for a nap.
"Would you like me to...": The "other mother" plans to take her child to the library hour. She asks mom if the child can come, too.
"Emotional support": A child might have seen something scary or had something traumatic happen. An understanding person steps in to help make sense of the situation.
"Come stay with me": When mom needs a break, grandma, aunt or big sister could have the child over for a few days.
"A couple weeks away": The favorite aunt invites the child to spend a couple weeks at her house in the summer. She teaches the child how to knit and makes a scarf for mom.
"Doing it together": Moms and their best friends team up. Some days all the moms and all the kids spend time together. Other days, just one mom supervises the action. The key is teamwork.
Raising a child takes a village. The "other mothers" live in that village. This Mother's Day we encourage you to share how you've reached out to make another child's life brighter or another mom's job easier. Give a shout out to all the "other mothers" in your mom pie.
How does your pie fill up?