Something I think I learn more and more about the longer I’m a wife and mother is Stewardship. I’ve gone in and out of crazy couponing phases (and settled on something practical, which I’ve chronicled on this blog,) I’ve learned how to make things stretch, reuse old things (partly to save money and partly because it’s fun!), and, most importantly, how to budget and save. It’s a big deal. Sometimes I go overboard. I don’t want to throw away cereal boxes or jars because I see what they have the potential to become. (I know, it’s crazy.) My wonderful, loving husband has a way of being the voice of reason in these moments… The point is, I see value in every little thing.
When I was a little girl, my parents gave me these china-esque dolls. They were beautiful, wore Victorian garb, and I was instructed that they were never to come out of their boxes. I was 7 or 8, and the idea of a doll that had to live in a box was just ridiculous. But I obeyed my parents and left them in the box… till I was 22. After I got married, I decided that the boxes had been beaten up like crazy over the last decade and a half and if they were “worth anything” before, they probably weren’t now. But I knew they were valuable and wanted to preserve them, so the boxes went into the garbage, and the dolls, on their stands, went on a shelf. They were beautifully displayed there along with my boxed-up Barbies. I respected my parents’ wishes, but even in my 20s, it didn’t make sense to me that they were dolls that weren’t to be played with.
My daughter turned 6 over the weekend. I’ve watched how responsible she’s become, and seen how she does everything she can to truly care for her things. I decided these dolls needed to learn to play, and that Alexa was the perfect playmate for them. So today, I took them off of their stands and gave them to her. I must say, the joy on her face at receiving such beautiful dolls was far more valuable than any amount I could have sold them for. Now, there are restrictions, of course. These dolls don’t go outside, and they shouldn’t be around food or paint, but they are just perfect for a tea party, or as she’s doing now, to put on mommy’s high heels and dance around your room with.
Sometimes, I think our ideas of value are skewed. As I thought about the last 18 years that those dolls have sat in a box and on a shelf, I began to picture all the things I could have done with those dolls. Growing up, I was the middle child in the house. I had 2 older brothers and 2 younger sisters. How nice would it have been if I could have had tea parties with dolls in beautiful Victorian dresses. I wonder how that would have changed my perception of play, girliness, or life. But instead they sat in boxes on shelves and I was allowed merely to look at them.
My parents meant well. I think they thought they were giving me something I would cherish as I grew. And I do cherish those dolls, and the fact that they are still so beautiful after so long… but I have a feeling I can cherish them better through watching my little girl’s enjoyment of them, than having them sit on a shelf. I hope, as a parent, that I never to put the cost or potential value of a thing above the value of childhood.