Other Mother Landmines

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With Mother’s Day approaching, I’m keenly aware of all the ways my sister devotes herself to her children. I’ll pester my niece and nephews all month to make sure they don’t forget to make her cards and breakfast in bed. My sister dotes on them, sometimes so much so that they take her for granted.

I’d probably be a much meaner mom – Type A personality that I am. There’d be a lot more rules and responsibilities. But it’s a tricky topic to bring up. It’s what I call that awkward part of othermothering. Even though my sister considers me “other mother” to her three kids – there’s no getting around the fact that I don’t have kids of my own. So is my advice worth anything?


So what do I know about raising kids? Not a lot
So what do I know about raising kids? Not a lot

I’m not looking for affirmations here. I’m genuinely skeptical. Byrne Miller, my other mother, had raised two girls of her own long before I came along. She could expand my horizons without worrying that her advice was untested.

It can seem like a big risk, offering yourself up as an “Other Mother.” Especially if, like me, you don’t have any first-hand experience. That’s where my sister, the full-time mother of three, bursts into a belly laugh.

My wonderful sister Jenny, with Marina and Raiden
My wonderful sister Jenny, with Marina and Raiden

“And you think anyone knows what they’re getting into when they become a mom? Don’t wait until you’re a perfect role model. Just jump in and be there.”

Her youngest child Marina is such a sweetheart she attracts other mothers like a magnet. Instead of worrying whether these other mothers have parenting bonafides, Jenny’s biggest fear is that they’ll swoop in and form a bond and then get a new boyfriend or a new job or have a baby of their own and leave Marina devastated.

“An adult understands that you can’t always keep promises. Kids don’t,” she says.

It turns out there’s a much more important measure of othermothering value that has nothing to do with having kids of my own.

“You want to know what makes you a real other mother?” Jenny asks. “When you offer to do the gymnastics car pool.”



2 thoughts on “Other Mother Landmines

    Grace Cordial said:
    May 7, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    As a mother of 4, I agree with Jenny. When you get in a bind, a real other mother (and good friend) helps you with the carpool.


    teresabrucebooks said:
    May 7, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    and good “collected” daughters do the same — helping their other mothers out without having to be asked 🙂


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