I was on a walk this morning with Mia, our puppy, when I discovered that her beloved Blue Cow, who she insists on bringing on every jaunt, had fallen from my pocket. It gets stowed there when she drops it about a block out from the house and it’s returned to her once we’re almost home.
This morning, we retraced our steps to retrieve Blue Cow. When Mia saw it lying beside the path, she ran to retrieve it. She walked the five blocks home with it clutched in her mouth, no longer trusting her treasure to my care.
It reminded me of the many times we retraced steps to find a little stuffed doll that has been my daughter’s most cherished possession since my husband and I gave it to her on her first birthday.
Dolly, who was never christened with a more sophisticated name, has been a constant in our lives for the past 11 years. She has been cuddled, dropped, photographed, lost and shipped back, washed and re-sewn any number of times. She has been on play dates, sleepovers, car and camping trips, stroller, airplane and boat rides …she’s one well-traveled toy.
We’re now on our third iteration of Dolly, the first two having been so well-loved that I tried to replace them with Dolly Number Three. This last turned out to be an imposter. She didn’t “feel the same” as the the prior two whose velveteen has been worn thin by love.
In the beginning, Dolly was a constant companion, never leaving my daughter’s side except for nursery school. Eventually, Dolly transformed into a nighttime-only companion. Until recently, Dolly slept under my daughter’s chin, to be caressed, mushed and fondled throughout the night, even as my daughter slumbered soundly. My husband often teased – never in a critical way – about having to pack Dolly off to college with our daughter.
Lately, I’ve seen Dolly and her almost-identical sister relegated to the foot of my daughter’s bed, anchored in place only by the footboard. Each of these steps attests to my little girl’s ever-increasing self-confidence. She no longer needs the reassurance Dolly once gave her.
As a parent, I am so proud of how far she has come… with her growing courage, burgeoning creativity, ripening sense of humor and blossoming personality that only comes with maturation. She’s growing up…growing independent. I wouldn’t change it for the world…But that doesn’t mean I won’t still miss the Dolly Years.
Originally published…it feels like a lifetime ago, and only yesterday….