I walked into my daughters bedroom and half tripped/half stumbled over the Jute rug that was never in its one place and muttered a ye ole faithful ‘Fuck’s sakes’ under my breath. I had actually bought that rug for myself from K-mart a few months earlier which I then sadly, surprisingly and willingly offhanded it to her because it looked far too cute in there. I pulled open her bedside drawers, reached inside and scrounged around for a ‘nappy knicker’ (Night-time nappy), in preparation to dress my little Harli for bed.
With the ‘always-necessary’ nappy knicker in my hand I glanced down as I turned to leave the room. I paused for .09 of second and it’s there that I spotted her. Molly, my African American ‘my child’ doll, laying in the bottom of a pink and white striped toy basket, all alone and a little bit backwards; her little head twisted awkwardly back around so that she was almost looking directly up at my face with her brown mottled eyes. She was naked of course, as all children’s dolls are, her little limbs covered in a soft fuzzy ‘skin’.
I stared at her before I impulsively reached down and picked her up, I stood there straight backed, with my ‘My Child” doll in one hand and a nappy nicker for my actual child in the other. Still holding the nappy I cradled Molly’s brown fluffy body into me, her fluffy little head dropping into the curve between my neck and my shoulder… and I am hit with a plethora of feelings…
…Suddenly, I’m standing in a bedroom that was no longer my daughters, but one of my own bedrooms from when I was a girl. It’s the smells I remember the most, a wood fire smell with my bed off to the side (I assume I am having de-javu).
I realise that I am a girl and when I glance down at my hands, my hands are small too and in those small hands is a doll, the same doll I was holding only moments earlier in the safety of my own daughters bedroom. A doll that I always imagined i’d be able to pass down to my own children one day.
I cradle the doll’s head in my hands and then pull her to my chest, as though she were real. I shift her up higher and her head lazily flops into the crook of my neck and shoulder. Right where it always did. I pat her on the bum in a timely manner and in fact the exact same way I did with my daughter when she was a newborn.
I feel the adoration come all at once, I love her as though she were real, this thing that I could take care of, this thing I imagined loved me back just as much. The little girl and now adult in me savoured the love that I had imagined I had for that doll.
It was me and her, always, in my mind she knew what what happening to me and at night I’d tuck her into a makeshift cradle which was either a box or a drawer or sometimes a gathering of little blankets on the floor under the bed to keep her safe.
I wanted to keep her safe, and in my mind as a child, I was doing exactly that.
I was her ‘mother’, I took care of her and protected her.
Before I can even consider that I was in the midst of a flash back, I am back, in the bedroom that doesn’t belong to me, but belongs to someone I love and adore, it belongs to someone that I protect and someone that too loves me back with the same unconditional love.
Someone I keep safe (but not under the bed).
I feel an unexpected smile flash across my face and I pull the doll away from my body, support her floppy matted mess of a head and take in what just happened.
A memory of something I’ve never remembered before, a memory I shared with this doll, a happy memory.
A memory that for once wasn’t terrifying or shame filled and haunting.
This memory, was filled with love, it made me smile, and made me realise that, that little girl, the little lost-girl is still in there somewhere, eventually, she will come out. She won’t always be scared, she won’t always feel hurt, she isn’t always hiding, she’s just waiting for the right time to show herself. She’s just taking her time to heal.
I walk into the lounge room where my lovely Dimmu is listening to music and I hold back the tears of happiness as I tell him about it. He smiles. I place poor little naked Molly on the couch and appreciate her for all that she gave me when I needed it.
Finally a memory I can keep that will bring me tears of happiness instead of tears of pain.
Little Molly: a girls best friend.