“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 happen often 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.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
I have always loved The Velveteen Rabbit, to the point where I decorated my baby’s nursery with illustrations from a paperback version I bought expressly for tearing it apart.
Since I was in high school I’ve been particularly drawn to this passage. The idea that you must be “broken-in” before you could be accepted, or even truly seen, it appealed to my brand of teenage angst.
Since becoming a mom, however, I have found find new meaning in it.
Yes, I’d say our children make us Real in very much the same way they do their toys. By the time they really see us as real people, our stuffing is lumpy and the joints are loose. We are not the young, beautiful, new parents who had unreal expectations of our tiny babies.
And that’s ok. That is how it should be. We grow into parenthood, we grow by being loved by the special little humans we guide through the world. We become… more.
This is important, I believe, for all parents to fully embrace.
Because every person who has ever raised a child knows that parenthood is often a struggle. A struggle that is hard, and totally worth it.
Because as parents we should understand at least this one truth about each another, and see the beauty in the way we are all the same, and celebrate how we are Real in our own unique ways.
This post originally appeared on Mother of Serendipity. It has been reprinted with permission.