Of all the things I loved most—books, puzzles, and games being at the top—there was nothing I loved more than my baby dolls. Only let’s get it straight right now that no one, and I mean no one, was allowed to call them “dolls.” They were real babies, and nobody could convince me otherwise (and believe me, after a single dramatic meltdown over a reference to one as a “doll,” no one who knew me dared cross that line again).
During my toddlerhood, one thing was perfectly clear: I came to this planet with some serious maternal instinct. I loved every one of my babies. I named them, fed them, rocked them, played with them. Receiving a miniature stroller about put me over the top. I tended to and talked to those babies as if they truly breathed oxygen and were alive on some level, even if it didn’t appear that way on the outside.
In the first grade, our first “field trip” was to the local library, which was about a half-mile walk from my school. My beloved teacher, Mrs. Garrison, gently ushered us inside where the librarian explained in a soft voice how we would each be getting a library card, and that we could choose two books to check out. Then she directed us toward the children’s section. Only I didn’t follow my classmates to the picture and chapter books.
Branching off on my own, I sought out the Parenting section. If I was going to raise my babies well, I needed a book about ways to accomplish that. No one noticed I went off to another section until I walked up to the librarian with my book: Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care.
“Is it okay if I check this book out?” I asked.
The librarian took one look at my tome and got a decidedly odd look on her face. “This is the book you want to check out? Not something from the children’s section?”
“No,” I said matter-of-factly. “I want to check out this one.”
She motioned to another library worker, as if to say, Get a load of this kid, then directed me to the counter to check it out.
When I brought the book home from school that day, I couldn’t wait to show it to my mom.
“Wow,” she said. “That’s the book you picked out?”
“Yep. I’m going to find out everything I need to know about being a mother,” I said confidently.
She didn’t say it then, and I didn’t have the insight yet to articulate it, but I think we both knew I wasn’t seeking advice on how to care for my babies. I was trying to figure out how best to raise my mom.
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