By far, my favorite activity with my toddler girls is reading books together. The girls have a pretty extensive library, and I rotate their collection in and out of their living room book basket regularly so they get exposure to lots of different stories, characters, and words. Every once in a while the girls will bring me a book from their basket that reduces me to tears. Here is my list that nearly always results in a sniffle, the girls pointing to my wet face, and a choked up, “Yes, Mommy is crying. Mommy is crying happy tears.”
Wish. This is a sweet little book about an elephant couple who can’t quite find success in having a baby when they are ready. Given our very long road to welcome the girls to this world and our many years spent in infertility, this book speaks to me. We were gifted this book by one of our dearest couple friends who were a tremendous support to us throughout our infertility journey. When they first came over to meet the babies, they insisted that we read it out loud. There was not a single dry eye in that room and Mr. Starfish and I had to pass that book between each other because we just couldn’t get through it without crying! This book also happens to be my go-to gift for any friends who struggled to conceive.
Love You Forever. Oh my goodness, this one pulls at my heartstrings so hard. The book itself is so sweet and has such a simple message of the lifelong special relationship between parent and child. It also makes me consider how quickly childhood passes, and somehow makes me nostalgic for my girls’ fading childhoods although they haven’t even yet turned two! This book also always makes me think of my grandmother because it is her favorite children’s book and she was the one who recommended it so strongly to me once I became a mother. The ending scene where the son rocks his mother always brings to mind my Mimi.
Little Gift of Nothing. As we move along my list here, we’re coming up on books that made me cry when I first read them but that I can now read without tears (in contrast, the above two books bring on waterworks no matter how often I read them!). This book is about a cat who seeks out a gift for his friend and ultimately decides that “nothing” is the best gift he could give. It is a simple and sweet message that some of the best gifts in life cannot be found in stores for purchase. This book was gifted to us by our surrogate and that could be a large part of why this book moves my heart so. The woman who gave our family one of our greatest gifts certainly understands the nuances of giving!
On the Night you Were Born. Honestly any book by Nancy Tillman takes my breath away. I adore her illustrations and the simple prose that accompany them. This book makes me feel the feels because it highlights the wonder and amazement and hope that I felt when each of my children were born, and it brings me right back to those feelings with such beauty and simplicity.
Sophia’s Broken Crayons. This book is a story about surrogacy laid out in a way that is approachable and easy for children to follow. I try to keep surrogacy a running dialogue in our family and so we rotate through a few books that touch the subject. This one is definitely my favorite, and it always makes me tear up a little at the end when the baby arrives and both the parents and the surrogate family are so happy. There is an image of the baby sleeping peacefully in a crib at the end, and it always makes me think of my own happy ending and how grateful I am for the entire surrogacy experience.