Sometimes I have to take a deep breathe and give credit where credit is due.
I could never do this alone. Ever. Sometimes I feel like I’m not even doing the job my sons deserve, but here’s the thing–the people around me are.
When I started this journey, I was single. I chose to continue IVF treatments when an unhealthy relationship mercifully dissolved. I had no idea if I could raise a child by myself, but I was already all in on the process. Six IUI’s and four IVF cycles, a miscarriage, two D&C’s and two egg donors later, I found out.
After almost four years of that brutal infertility grind–years of finding out how hard it was for my body to participate in the process of bringing a child into a world–I found out my last IVF cycle took… times two.
Twins. Just me, on my one income, on my own. Stuff gets real, real quick sometimes!
My sons were born via c-section (one was breech) right at 37 weeks. They were healthy — their mom was not. I didn’t know much about the postpartum period, but it hit me hard. And it doesn’t matter how badly you wanted your baby (or babies), it can still consume you. It was the first of many times that people stepped up around me to help my sons.
I had the normal help: a mother who was wonderful and ecstatic to have grandsons in the same city (her other beloved four grandchildren live in other parts of the country). I had friends who visited, people who cared, but as any new mom knows, in those early months, it’s on you. It’s on you when you have to go back to work when they are eight weeks old, and on you to pack their bags in the morning, put crying infants into carseats, and it’s you that cries the entire drive into town, wondering what kind of a mom it makes you to leave your kids at a college kid’s house while you have to be a part of your preseason.
But here’s the thing. Those college kids have been some of the best influences on my son’s life. They fell in love with my sons in ways that this postpartum and guilt-ridden mom couldn’t at the time. I had friends who literally took the boys into their homes in the afternoon, putting the babies to sleep on their couch and then making sure I had dinner when I arrived after 6 p.m. to pick them up.
I have always been offered so much help by both family, but more importantly, by those who had no requirement to care and love my sons. They have had so many people come into their lives and have chosen to love them. They are so loved. I never understood what the idea of needing a village to raise a child was truly about until I had twins and realized that the network around me, around them, was everything to our survival.
Just the other day, my son’s speech therapist came to our house to observe him outside of the clinic. Once again, my son is so fortunate. This young woman is rooting for his success. She is a cheerleader of his struggle to be orally understood. It is amazing to watch someone that is just a part of his life two hours a week want him to succeed so badly. These are the people that surround my sons, people that are rooting for them, giving them high-fives, and accepting them where they are and at their level, wherever that may be.
While I am no longer a single parent, I still rely heavily on those who arguably do not have to have the vested interest in my sons that I do. Those people do not go unnoticed. There is not a single day that goes by where I am not thankful for the kindness of others, for their unforced commitment to making my sons happy and even wiser and kinder in my absence. Thankful for people that acknowledge, while it may not be exciting to them, often the things my sons are experiencing are new and a very big deal to their two and a half year old development.
We assume, expect, and even take for granted that the people who spend holidays and birthdays with us, take family vacations and come over for supper are rooting for our children. But what about those that aren’t always in a family’s inner circle? The people who have very little to gain, but whose support and cheerleading really, truly does make all the difference?
I am talking to all of you–yes grandparents and uncles and aunts–but even more so to babysitters, teachers, therapists, coaches, pastors, even co-workers… anyone who is rooting for our children’s success. Moms and dads get their own holiday where typically our children honor us, but I am proposing today is the day we honor all of you. Thank you for being part of our village, our network, and for supporting the success of my sons and so many, many other children. You have made, and are making, all the difference.