Every child should have at least two mothers. The second mother can be a neighbor, aunt, gramma, friend, spouse or well trained labradoodle. Having an extra set of eyes or hands is crucial to parental sanity. One thing you can't have enough of is help.
When there's an age gap between siblings or cousins, it's like home-bred childcare. Older siblings and cousins can be vital second mothers, filling in on playground and carpool duty or handing you a clean diaper, depending on the age. Even if they complain, they enjoy the responsibility.
My eldest has stepped in to help my sister with her kids while simultaneously she is helping me with him. My cousin's daughter has done the same. When I was little I often stayed with my aunt's family in Texas for the summer. I was mothered by her and my five older cousins. When my parents divorced one of those older cousins came to stay with us for a few weeks to help my mom with the move, and she learned to drive a stick shift out of necessity. And I learned what skinny dipping was. Win-win.
|cousins in Switzerland|
pic by Auntie Kirsten
Lady Grantham: "One forgets about parenthood. The on-and-on-ness of it."
Isobel Crawley: "Were you a very involved mother?.....I'd imagined them surrounded by nannies and governesses, being starched and ironed to spend an hour with you after tea."
Lady Grantham: "Yes, but it was an hour every day."
Mary Allison Tierney's essay The Gingerdreadman is included in the anthology Mamas Write, available at Amazon, or your local independent bookshop.