Surrogate mothers have nothing to do with giving birth, but they have everything to do with helping children along in life. Surrogate mothers touch children’s lives briefly or they may stay involved with them for a long period of time. Surrogate mothers are especially important to children whenever they influence them at crucial times, such as when children are crying, angry, lonely, or when they are in need of a friend.
I had several surrogate mothers as a child, although none was more influential that my birth mother. She was my protector and guide when I was a child, and I am q lucky woman to still have her in my life.
However, I had many surrogate mothers, such as the ones who lived along the 26th block of Norwood Avenue. They took my sisters and me to church and treated us as nicely as they did their own children whenever we visited in their homes. I had female teachers and staff members at Norwood Elementary School who were like mothers.
One such woman was Mrs. Garmon, our school secretary. She was as influential as any teacher. Her influence wasn’t because she sold us erasers for a penny, pencils for a nickel, or packs of lined paper for a dime. It was the way she interacted with us. She was loving and and always seemed happy to see each one of us.
On Norwood Avenue, here was Meme, our next-door neighbor, who took me out to eat for the first time and bought me a sandwich and a bowl of coleslaw. I’ll never forget how good that coleslaw tasted, as it was full of pineapple chunks. Also, there was JoAnn, the mother of my best friend. All of us neighborhood children called her by her first name because she was friendly and playful. She allowed me to spend dozens of nights in her home. She would keep the refrigerator well-stocked so that my friend and I could cook, which probably was the same as “make a mess.” Then there was Esther, who one day confided in me that she wore no panties in the summer. Her confession made me feel like a grown-up, and I wondered if my mother might agree that I could cool off this way. She didn’t.
I was a teenager when my teacher named Suzanne (Duncan-Hobbs) Cunningham taught me American literature in such a way that I decided to become a word person, too. During my teen years, she was like a surrogate mother in that she was an encourager to not only me but also to the other students.
Suzanne and I are now best friends, and I’ll never forget how much I looked up to her as a young person. I still do.
Finally, a woman named Virginia became a surrogate mother to me and a surrogate grandmother to my children. She had never given birth to children of her own, but she had adopted three daughters. They were grown by the time my children came along, and since they had no offspring, Virginia took on the role of grandmother to my children. She babysat as often as she could, even giving up an opportunity to go out to eat or to shop if I needed a babysitter. How blessed I was to have her, and I wish she was still alive to tell her.
So, Happy Mother’s Day to our mothers and to those who choose to be mothers through their service to children.
Email Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org.