Pretty Baby

Pretty Baby

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Pretty Baby

A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.
~Author Unknown

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” my mom asked.

“Yeah. At least, I think so.”

I said goodbye and hung up the phone, discouraged and sad. Never before had I longed for my mother to be with me as I did at that moment. I inhaled deeply, but it didn’t stop the tears. I was facing yet another medical test, and I really wanted my mom.

At twenty-four, after completing graduate school, I moved from my home state. I hadn’t been in Colorado long when the stomach pain returned. Several years of tests and inaccurate diagnoses hadn’t solved them. Now it was clear that the doctors’ latest ideas, which held such promise and had worked for a while, had failed. I dried my eyes and tried not to think about the colonoscopy I’d face the next week. My first one, an intimidating prospect. The relatively short test challenges nearly anyone. But, the test simply wasn’t worth my mom taking off work and driving or flying so far—not for a quick outpatient procedure. I wouldn’t let her do it. Nevertheless, I felt incredibly alone.

“Honey. I’m sending you something,” Mom said at the end of the call. “Watch for it.”

She’s such a mom, I thought. The gentle teasing, even in my own mind, made me smile a little. But, really, what could she send that could make this better?

A few days later, just a day before the test, a box arrived. I opened the package and gently shifted the tissue paper. Glancing inside, my eyes watered. Pretty Baby? My very first childhood friend—the treasured doll with the cuddly soft body and plastic head. I caressed the brown, molded hair, and looked into the blue eyes that really blinked. My fingers touched the line of marker I’d somehow tattooed her with when I was little. I’d named her Pretty Baby when I was two. I thought it a perfectly appropriate name for, well, such a pretty baby.

I held her close, taking the hug I knew Mom sent her to carry to me. Through the tears, my heart found strength. I dried my eyes and chuckled. Really, this is ridiculous, I thought. Aren’t I supposed to be grown up?

But Mom knew, as moms somehow do, exactly what I needed. Right then, I needed support, even as I grew into a stronger, more independent woman. I set my doll on my bed, where she remained for a couple of days before being carefully packed away again. Giving her one last pat, I smiled, knowing I could handle whatever would come... and that I wasn’t alone.

~Diane Gardner

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