"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long,long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
- Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
I was getting ready for bed tonight and was beyond thrilled that it was only 1100. Today had been a long day in a week of long days, so I was feeling tired and much too ready to close my eyes and take a break from feeding, changing, and caring for small bodies (at least for a few hours). Then I heard Britt say, "I hear someone crying."
It only took me a second to realize that it wasn't Verity, and it wasn't Charissa's "I just woke up and feel alone" cry - she was in distress. And when I got to her room it only took a whiff to realize why. I guess my sensitive spirited little girl also has a sensitive tummy. After calming her down, I quickly set to work gathering all the dirty sheets and blankets and stuffed animals to put them in the wash. Unfortunately, Buddy was among those headed for a late night bath.
Who is Buddy? Buddy is Charissa's best friend. She's a little pink bunny with purple flowers who used to play music, but lost that ability a few washings ago. Once a fluffy and clean little bunny, she now has permanent markings and tears from CJ loving on her. Buddy is Charissa's constant companion. She sleeps with buddy. Buddy plays games with us. Buddy likes to watch Veggie Tales. Buddy even potty trained with us. There are few things we do that Buddy isn't involved. And tonight, Buddy was dirty.
After saying goodnight to Buddy and putting her in the wash, Charissa and I went back to her room and sat down on the floor while Britt made her bed with fresh linens. I knew that going to bed without her fluffy friend would be hard, and she had made several comments about getting Buddy dirty, so I thought I should reassure her. I started telling her that Buddy loves her so much and that Buddy wasn't upset about getting dirty. We talked a bit more about how Buddy loves to be there with her so much that she didn't mind if that meant she got a little worn along the way.
While talking with Charissa, tears came to my eyes. So I went on to tell her that Daddy and Mama love her even more than Buddy does. And that even though we get tired, we aren't upset that she needed us late and that she'll probably get us up early tomorrow morning. She's totally worth it.
After I left my room I was thinking about how I have changed so much in the last few years. While I still don't love changing diapers and cleaning sheets with vomit on them, it doesn't phase me anymore. I don't have the time to primp and get ready like I used to. Clothes not only fit differently, but I need them to function differently. They aren't for going out on the town - my clothes are for crawling around on the floor and running through the park chasing my little girl.
But it doesn't truly matter. God has so blessed me with a wonderful family. My husband loves me, my two little girls love me - and they think I'm beautiful. So I am.