When I was a child, I didn’t think too much about motherhood or becoming a mother myself. I suppose I knew I would have a baby one day, because that’s what girls seemed to do, but I never planned it out.
I did play with dolls though, and there were a few I loved.
One of my babies had a hard plastic face with swath of painted yellow hair curling on its forehead. It was stuffed hard and wore a yellow and white check outfit. The doll, including the outfit, was all one piece. Nothing was removable, not even the head. That hard head had a harder plastic zip-tie-like piece holding it onto the fabric body.
I remember that.
I remember running my chubby fingers along that plastic piece and wondering if I could take it apart. It wasn’t that I had an affinity with beheadings or particularly cared for headless dolls, it was just one of those random thoughts children have.
They want to know why and how and ask what if. For some reason as we grow up, those questions become less and less important. I dare-say we were smart to ask, to wonder at the possibilities. I think that’s something children do better than adults.
I dragged this doll everywhere.
I liked to be surrounded by my stuff. I began life as a bit of a bag lady, so much so that my mother bought me a shirt with extra deep pockets. An arrow pointed into the pockets and the words My Junk were printed on the top of the shirt. I filled those pockets until my stomach hung down to my knees.
I think that’s why I carry around an extra-large purse. I still like to have my junk with me, because you never can tell when you’ll want to hold something close, like my little yellow doll. I don’t even think that doll had a name, but it was my baby just the same.
As you can imagine that baby got very dirty, and my mother would insist on washing it. I’d stand as she pulled up a chair in front of our washing machine. My little self climbing up onto the chair. I stood and watched as my little yellow-haired baby doll bobbed round and round. It never quite sunk to the bottom, just vanished out of sight for a moment, only to pop back to the surface.
We didn’t have a dryer in those days, so I had to wait for my baby to air dry.
One of the saddest memories of my early childhood, my toddler years, was during a trip to the Bronx Zoo. It wasn’t my first time at the zoo, because we lived close by and I liked to ride in the sky car that crossed over the zoo high in the air, but this was the time I lost my yellow baby with the hard painted face and the head that wouldn’t pop off.
I remember sitting in a stroller and crying for my baby, knowing I would never, ever see it again. There were too many people, and when you lost things were I lived, you never got them back again. My baby was gone and it is a sadness I remember till today, possibly thirty-five years later.
That lost baby was the first baby I ever loved.
I’m reading Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle, also known as Big Mama. I’ve read her blog for years and this book that she wrote inspired me to share my own journey to motherhood with you.
So, this is part one.
P.S. My mom found a photo of my doll online. You can see her HERE.