I cuddled the tiny little doll in my arms, swaying back and forth.
She was perfect… beautiful.
My cousin had drawn my name in Christmas gift exchange, but I suspect that it was my Aunt Linda who had in fact chosen the lovely little treasure in my arms.
I was ecstatic.
Some feelings cannot be expressed in words.
My aunt must have understood that as she looked down at me as I was caressing the beautiful golden curls of my Christmas gift.
I named her Sally.
She was my precious little treasure. She was like a real baby.
Her little bottle could be filled with water and she would actually drink it. Then her soiled diaper could be changed.
I felt like I was a real Mommy. It was as if my greatest dreams had come true.
I packed Sally with me to everywhere. I brushed her hair and changed her clothes. I even took her into the bath with me, then wrapped her in my baby blanket and tucked her into bed with me to sleep.
She was my special show-and-tell in Kindergarten. Much to my dismay, Teacher said I could not keep her in the classroom unless she had my name on her.
And she handed me a permanent marker.
I wrote my name “SaRAh A.” with a backwards “R” on her forehead, the only place I could find that didn’t have clothes covering her, since I also wasn’t permitted to undress her in the classroom.
I was very angry at the teacher that she had forced me to ruin my beautiful little baby. I came to greatly dislike that teacher.
I tried everything later to get the permanent marker off, but to no avail.
She was ruined.
I cried, but finally had to accept that I could not change it. And I accepted her the way she was; I still loved her in spite of what had happened to her.
When I was six I decided to wash her hair when I was bathing.
It was disastrous.
Apparently her hair was not intended to be washed. All the beautiful tight little curls unfurled and stood on end like a stiff afro.
Again I cried.
But I could not undo it. By this time I had come to grips with the fact that my doll was not perfect, but she was still my doll. I tried to make up for her hair by tying it in pointy pony tails, or covering it with a bandanna.
When I was nine, Momma taught me to sew. I took Sally’s little white baby dress which I thought looked like a wedding dress and sewed a little white pearl button onto it’s front. I thought it was a great improvement.
I don’t remember if I had other dolls growing up or not. If I did, they didn’t leave an impression: Sally is the only one I remember.
As I grew older, Sally moved from my bed with me to a little cubby hole at the front of my bunk bed. Wrapped in my baby blanket, I knew she was safe there.
And when I needed a good cry, as all teen girls do, I would pull out my baby Sally and my blanket and hold them tight.
When I was sixteen I received a Hope Chest for Christmas. Soon Sally was lovingly tucked away to wait another little girl who would, someday, love her as her own while she dreamed of becoming a mommy.
That day has not come. I only have boys, who in classic boy fashion, think she is very funny looking.
But once, when he thought I wasn’t looking, I saw one of them lovingly caressing her hair and rocking her to sleep.
Today she isn’t far from me: I keep her in my top dresser drawer. And on a hard day she can still make me smile.
Remember that this –motherhood– is what I dreamed about all those years ago.
(From an article written in 2011)