In Praise of Mothothers

motyWhat is a mothother?

Besides being a word I just invented?

It’s a mother of others, who behaves in a motherly way towards you even though she is not your mother.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I recently moved.

And wouldn’t you know it, but arid regions are pretty dry. My usually oil-prone skin is suddenly all dehydrated and itchy. 


So I put forth a Facebook plea to my extended family begging someone to send me a container or two of the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Body Butter because it smells AAAAAAAHMAZING! and they don’t sell it here. After all, I am white, and we know how much white chicks love pumpkin spice anything


So DH’s mom texts me this pic and asks if it’s enough.


She ended up clearing their shelves.


Now, this is not the first incredibly kind thing she has done for me.

 I actually used to work for/with her, and she became a dear friend. And no offense to anyone else back in California, but I think I really do miss her the most. 

Taking the time to drive around to two different Trader Joe’s and clean out their stock of Pumpkin Body Butter and then mail it to me just because I like the scent is a such a mothotherly thing to do. 


There are others who mothother me as well

My father’s wife is a lovely lady. She’s come to me with compassion and a cup of tea in some of my darkest moments. And as I got older, wine. She always has the best winesann

My (half) sisters mothother me as well. 


And their mother has kindly said 


Which I think would be rather amusing. I’ve actually never called anyone “mom.”

See, I call my father’s third wife by name, even though she is actually my step-mother. So to call his first wife “mom,” even though she is in no way related to me, would be funny. 


The word, “nibling”

portmanteauYou’ve heard me praise the word “nibling,” which is a portmanteau of niece/nephew and sibling.

Doesn’t portmanteau sound like a cut of steak?

I didn’t invent “nibling” but I wholeheartedly adore the word. I have many niblings, and they deserve a collective name. 

I did, however (to the extent of my knowledge) invent mothother, and I want to officially offer the word to the world as a term to describe motherly kindness extended to you from other people’s mothers.


Well what about fathothers? 

Doesn’t have as nice a ring to it, does it?

If you can think of a better word, let me know. 

And yet the fathother is a much more frequently celebrated role. We see it often in movies and TV

If I may dip ever so gently into the ocean of love I have for the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there was a pretty good fathotherly relationship between Buffy and her Watcher, Giles.

The mothotherly role is less popular on screen. 

In fact, we often see quite the opposite: Evil stepmothers locking our heroines in the attic in fairy tales, a dad’s new arm-candy who’s just ten years older than the protagonist taking her out for an organic mani-pedi and the latest fad diet lunch while insisting she call her “mom” 


But not all mothothers are usurpers. 

There are many, wonderful, kind women out there with mothotherly love to give. 

So let’s give mothothers a round of applause. Especially my mother-in-law, because she’s mailing me 14 containers of my favorite lotion. 

With love, to all my mothothers. 

-Violet Charles

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