Jewish World Review Nov. 21, 2003 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Good kids! Wonder who raised them | As I recall, I was wheeled into the delivery room only three times, but in recent months we seem to have accumulated additional kids. I guess they're what you'd call surrogates.

It's not hard to acquire surrogates. Crack open your front door, heat up the oven, set out a few extra plates, and they emerge out of thin air.

This past summer, one of our surrogates moved in for a few weeks and stayed in our son's room while he was away at summer school. She never played music after 9 p.m., never tracked in the house with muddy hiking boots and each morning made the bed to a state of wrinkle-free perfection. I love that girl. She's like the son I never had.

Another of our surrogates joined a gospel choir this fall. They sing and shout and clap and sway back and forth. It's a dream come true. I am finally the mother of a child with rhythm. I missed the first concert and felt terrible. Even with surrogates, a mother still suffers guilt.

One of the high school surrogates has been around so long she now calls me Momma Lori. I hope her own mother is not offended. Of course, I also hope this will increase my Mother's Day take.

Nearly every Tuesday night I feed a group of four young college coeds who materialize for an immunology study group. They are a pleasant group, as surrogates go, except for when they launch into all that dirty talk about disease, toxins and what not.

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Since the girls all live away from home, they think my home cooking is great. I could feed them road kill with the fur still on it and they'd say, "This is the best meal I've had all week." Then they'd ask for seconds. These surrogates give me the cooking kudos I always deserved.

The benefit of surrogate kids is that you get the rewards with none of the costs. Somebody else paid to clothe them, insure them and straighten their teeth. Another bonus is that you don't have to wait on surrogates hand and foot. They know where the salt and pepper are, which cupboard the drinking glasses are in, how to start the dishwasher and that's there's more microwave popcorn on the shelf in the garage, right above the boxes of pop. Sometimes they even wait on you. Yes, life as it should be.

There are times, however, when all these surrogates can be confusing. "I don't remember having this many kids," the husband says, stepping over assorted young people sprawled around the house.

"We don't," I said.

"Well, then how did we get so many?"

"Young people are like coat hangars," I say. "The minute you take your eyes off them, they subdivide and multiply."

"Some of these kids have been here so long I've forgotten which ones are ours and which ones are loaners."

"You can tell by size," I say. "We've never produced anything over 5' 5"."

Last weekend, the better half and I had retreated to the bedroom to watch a video. One of our own and a surrogate knocked on the door, and asked if they could watch the video, too.

We said sure, get blankets and pillows and find yourselves an uncomfortable spot on the floor. (We don't give up good seating, not even for surrogates.)

Being live wires, we both began nodding off before the video was over. It was the surrogate who turned off the tv, rewound the video and locked the front door to the house when she left.

It's satisfying to have such responsible kids. And raising them took hardly any effort at all.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman