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An Open Letter to My Son's Other "Mother"

Karen De Maio

my son's other mother

Not sure when I first felt that hint of jealousy.  I really shouldn’t have because I didn’t even know you.  But we were about to share something in common……. my son.   

I think it might have started when my boss sent me a text message on maternity leave.  Something to the extent of “just checking to see if you have a projected return date.”  I was stalling.  Knowing that at the end of the day I had to go back to work and I was dropping my almost three month old off to you.  Guilt plagued me not because I didn’t trust you but because I was afraid of letting him go and you replacing me as his mother.  I know it sounds absurd.  I know biologically he is my son; I carried him for 9 months (and have the battle scars to prove it) but what scared me the most was you watching him for the better part of the day and experiencing all his firsts.   

It was easier with my daughter because I had her grandmother watching her and my husband was also home at that time.  It wasn’t the same with a family member playing the part.   This time around I felt I was opening the door to a woman I barely knew to take on that mommy role. 

Months passed and I began to take notice of his interactions with you.  It was his smile towards you, the way he touched your hair and the ease at which he embraced you.  All signs to me that he was happy and content being with you his other” mother”.   According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word mother, (a noun) can also refer to maternal tenderness or affection.  When I finally understood this concept of your motherly role it was then when the jealousy slowly started to subside and then dissipated.

If I couldn’t be there to tend to my son what better person than you to take on this huge role.  It wasn’t about all those milestones.  I missed the first time he rolled over, the day he pulled himself up and the new lunch food he tried.  There is something bigger and better to this arrangement. 

The French novelist, George Sand, once said “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”   I remember telling you thank you once and you responded with “For what?  You pay me!” To me it goes beyond those “babysitting duties”.  You are a mother, as well to two beautiful children but yet you still have enough left in your heart to share that love with my son and for that I am eternally grateful.

However to add some humor to this article (wipe away those tears!), I do want you to know that neither one of us will hear his first words of “mama”.  Daddy won that one!

Other articles by Karen DeMaio