After Morton, Rosalie

Today’s excerpt from Mother Up: A Memoir is a post in response to a weekly meme called “Where I Lived Wednesdays,” hosted by Ann Imig at Ann’s Rants. Want to join the fun? Just click here and leave your link!


1812 Bay Avenue



After Morton, our family moved to the Grays Harbor area. The small white house on Cherry Street midway through my first grade year. In the middle of second grade, we moved to the one across from A.J. West Elementary. In that house, I woke from a dream one night and found myself enclosed in a tiny room. Mom and Dad found me trapped in the hot water closet, just off the main floor bathroom.

For Christmas that year I received a new baby doll I named Rosalie. She had plump cheeks, tiny indented toes, and blue eyes that always seemed to gaze at some far off place unless I laid her in the crook of my arm. Then I’d set her in a cradle, cover her with the soft blanket, and nudge the curved tread of the bed with my foot, rocking it while she slept. She wasn’t a fussy baby even when I changed her too many times in a row as young mothers sometimes do. She never seemed to need more than I had to offer. She never questioned my love. I never worried if I was mother enough.

In the years that followed, as the tiny ric rac trimmed dresses my mother made for Rosalie grew old and worn, my love faded. She ended up in a hallway or cabinet, and when we moved (because I moved almost every year as a child) the baby doll was stowed in a cardboard box. By then I was eight. Disappearing love objects didn’t seem out of the ordinary.

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  1. I loved dolls and had several, but my very favorite was a tiny rag doll made by my mother. She was made to be a girl, about my age, six or seven, I guess. I don’t remember naming her, but I adored her. Once she got lost and I remember crying in my room while my mom made a new one. My mom wasn’t happy about doing it, but she did it anyway. Eventually, that next doll got lost, too. I looked and looked for her. A tiny part of me still holds out hope that I’ll find her one day.

  2. I don’t remember having a baby doll; I had a skateboard and a Lemon Twist and lots of Barbies. I love reading these kinds of memories, Deb.

  3. Loved it. My favorite line was “She wasn’t a fussy baby even when I changed her too many times in a row as young mothers sometimes do.”

  4. “Disappearing love objects didn’t seem out of the ordinary.” Wow. As we say in my writer’s group: I’m in. What’s next?

    Glad to have found you via Ann! She’s the source of so many good things…

  5. Mine was called Baby Dreams. I didn’t even try to come up with a better name for her although she certainly deserved it.

    It’s a tempting thought; to return to those days when we didn’t question our mothering instincts.

    I had no idea it was such a big job. And so permanent.

    I think Baby Dreams did, though.

    • Ha! I had a cousin who called her doll by the package name too. It always seemed funny to me. Who is ready for mothering? We think we are and then we realize how unprepared we actually were, making our way the best we can.

  6. I could see you curled up in the water closet, so sweet and forlorn!

    • It’s an odd little memory. I remember thinking that my mom and dad must have built the house in a different shape while I was sleeping. I kept trying to find the door out but for some reason, could not.

  7. Everyone should have a Rosalie when they’re little. Doesn’t have to be a doll but something that allows for that perfect give and take of a child’s affections.

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