One year I received this precious porcelain doll for Christmas. It was a gift from my grandmother. My memory fails me, but I believe I was around 10 years old. I hated this doll so much I literally cried when I opened it. I remember thinking “Is this a joke? What am I supposed to do with a stupid doll you cannot even play with? They just sit there!”
As a child, I was a “tom-boy” I did not like girly things, and never had. I enjoyed sports, hunting squirrels in my yard, and other outdoor activities. Getting that doll truly felt like the worst gift someone could ever get me. It did not even DO anything. There is a picture somewhere of me holding up the doll that Christmas, looking at the camera like the completely ungrateful child I was.
I was ungrateful because I knew what these dolls meant to my grandmother. I lived next door to her most of my life, so I spent a lot of time with her growing up. I knew she adored them. Her home was full of these dolls. Beautiful china cabinets with perfectly arranged porcelain dolls of all different ethnicities and sizes covered her walls. She had a doll assigned to each one of her grandchildren that looked like them.
It was her hobby, her joy, and she wanted to share that with me.
As with everything in life, time changes us. It changes how we view every aspect of our life and who we are. That doll has moved all over with me. I hated the doll, but I took care of it (with the exception of a well-meaning attempt at brushing her hair, which ended horribly). Eventually, taking that doll out of its moving box and finding a place to display it became a joy to me. Every time I pulled it out, I would think back on that Christmas and laugh to myself.
And then, my grandmother passed away. A few years ago, she suffered a stroke and over the course of that next year her body slowly failed her. Once she was home on hospice, I sat with her nearly every day, surrounded by her dolls, and talked with her. The stroke took her ability to speak back, but she found her ways to communicate and I always tried my hardest to make her laugh. I am so grateful for that time with her.
Now that she has passed, the doll means so much more to me. I can hardly see it without it bringing tears to my eyes. Seeing the doll just reminds me so much of my grandmother and her love for her grandchildren. She was such an amazing woman, and those dolls were such a big part of how I saw her as a child.
Thinking about how this doll’s meaning in my life has changed so drastically over the years, helps me keep parenting in perspective.
Time will truly change everything, whether for good or bad.
When you are pregnant, and you feel like the baby will never come, know that with time, it always will.
When it is 2:00AM and you are sitting in tears holding your two week old crying baby thinking you will never sleep again, remember, with time, you will.
When your child hits its toddler or preschool years and you feel like the piles of questions and messes will never end, remember, with time, they will.
When your child is a teenager, and you feel like you will never be able to have a normal relationship with them again, remember, with time, you will.
One day, they will all grow up. It will all pass, and will usually happen when you aren’t looking.
When you are ready for it, it usually cannot come soon enough. When we are not ready, it almost always comes too soon.
But one way or another, time passes us all by, and our world changes bit by bit.