I am a big fan of surrogates. My children would not be who they are without them. I have been reflecting on this a lot lately as I have relied heavily on these angels for the past nearly two years. Whether it's taking my daughters to ballet, having the whole brood over for an afternoon, chaperoning them on a field trip, or simply knowing their name, asking how they are doing and actually sticking around for the reply, our life is full of people that offer a part of themselves to my children. What these Saints don't realize is that it fills holes in this mother's heart. Perhaps most importantly it fills my children's lives with love and rich experiences.
We have been fortunate to have many single sisters and brothers (young and old), young couples, families, and older couples fill the roles of aunt and uncle, cousins, and grandparents. Thank you so much to all of you. In every state, in every Ward and Branch we have been members if, we have been well taken care of by those who sought to know us and be a part of our life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
When I was a young mother in Rhode Island you held my 1st baby at an Enrichment Night (was that what it was called then? I can't remember anymore!) and taught him about what a heart was with a little stuffed bear. My husband was on a ship and I was thousands of miles from any family. You gave my baby a grandparent and you gave my heart a lift. You continued to bless our lives in many little ways that added up to something quite large.
When I was an overwhelmed mother of 2 under age 3 and bringing home #3, you stepped into the role of grandma and mother and my burden was lightened tremendously. You played and took walks to the park. You sat and talked with me for hours on the porch with a temperamental baby hanging on my breast and two little ones playing in the yard. You came and listened to me cry when my husband was called away for duty with hours notice. You were genuine and never wanted to “help” me with anything. You knew I could do it and you listened and played while I figured it out. You were there again when I went from 3 to 4 and knowing you were holding down the home front was all I needed when Sam was called to a Search and Rescue case just hours after the birth. Thanks for loving, caring, feeding, and playing while I recovered and bonded with #4.
You attended soccer games in support of my boys and helped with watching children on numerous occasions while I was a single mom for a time. Living in a different state than Sam due to an unexpected transfer left me wondering how I was going to do it all alone. I was not alone. Another surrogate; you cleaned blood up from around my house and took my oldest three while I raced to the ER with my baby that had just broken her jaw. You kept them even longer due to a doctor appointment for me. You returned happy children and even the bloody towel fresh, clean, and stain free. You didn't even wince at my bloodstained t-shirt or complain at your lost day off. How does a geographically single mom do it? With people like you on speed dial.
3 of you took shifts holding and cuddling #5 in the NICU while I was recuperating from surgery. You lived an hour or more away and you traveled and sat for hours each day with the baby I could not hold. You did it for 6 weeks and you would have done it for more if we had needed it. You walked and talked in the hall with me while his pic-line was being changed and tried to distract me from the screaming. You showed up twice when I said, “No, we'll be fine.” The first time was when his siblings were meeting him for the first time, and simultaneously saying goodbye for his transfer to Children's Hospital. The second was during one of his multiple surgeries; seeing your face and feeling your arms around me were exactly what I needed. I would not have survived, and he would not have done so well, if not for the 3 of you grandmas. It was your love that tipped the scales for him, every time.
I am especially grateful today for the grandparent variety of surrogate. I am, however, an equal opportunity thanker. Please know that if you read this and feel you have not been properly acknowledged or thanked, it is an egregious error on the part of my typing fingers. Be assured you are remembered with equal fondness, tis my literary skill that is lacking in how to make this concise and yet inclusive.
Now for the plea: To all of you empty nesters and not yet (or not interested in being) nesters out there (married and single!), please know that somewhere within your Ward or Branch there is someone that would benefit greatly from your influence in their life.
There is a mother that is heartsick because her children don't have as frequent contact with their grandparents as she would like. There is a boy trying so hard to make the transition into manhood and is lacking a strong worthy male influence for whatever reason. There is a girl going through that awkward stage that doesn't know if she is worth anything. You don't have to be a leader. You don't have to have a reason. Learn the names of the primary children and youth in your church family. Ask them how they are and stick around for the answer.
Watch for the single mother that could use an extra pair of hands. See the mother with a special needs baby and offer yourself as a taxi service. Understand that the “inactive” person may not be so inactive as you may think and offer genuine friendship. Know that you are desperately needed by someone and in most cases they won't be able to articulate it, or even recognize it. And thank you, in advance 🙂