How playing with dolls can bring mothers and daughters closer together
As a child I was given hundreds of Barbie outfits each year. My aunt was a designer for the company. She was one of five woman that spent forty hours each week making new Barbie wardrobe designs. She was also the mother of five boys. My Barbie spent most of her years in the same outfit, fighting my brothers GI Joe to the death on a few occasions. All the new Barbie clothes were kept in Barbie cases for the day that I would finally appreciate them. That did not occur in my youth.
Thirty years later, I am the mother of four beautiful daughters. Each have been given a Barbie and a true designer wardrobe at age five. Countless hours have been spent dressing, doing her hair, role playing, and planning her perfect life. Each moment was time I spent with my girls in our own private world. It was moments I never got to share with my mother. I denied her that wonderful experience.
Talking to my mother on the phone one day, I apologized to her about our lost Barbie time. She laughed and explained that she had not missed a single moment. Each and every girl is sculpted by her gusto or lack of zest for her Barbie. It was the perfect personality test of any female. She had peaked my interest so I ask her to explain further.
She stated, " Your oldest daughter is twenty and I knew at age five that she would be artistic, a dancer, and a social butterfly. She played with her Barbie in that manner. She was full of passion and conviction when it came to how her Barbie’s life would be. Her Barbie painted, sang, danced, and held parties at each turn. Your Barbie is an extension of yourself.
Your second daughter is nineteen now. She spent years using her Barbie as the victim of experiments. Her poor dolls was blown up, melted, and used to see how change would effect the outcome of different situations. It is not a surprise she is a chemical engineering student in college.
Daughter three is seventeen and has recently declared that she will be going to college to become a doctor. Was she not the same child that used her Barbie’s to perform surgery on her brother’s GI Joe’s? It was something I knew was going to happen.
The baby is just now five and has not chosen a path to follow. But, I promise she will and you will see it when you look at how she interacts with her Barbie’s. I knew as your mother, that you were going to be a great mother someday. You didn’t waste your time on Barbie, but with more life likes dolls. You cared for them as though they were real. You constantly held, fed, diapered, read, and loved those dolls as though your life depended on it. I did not miss out by not playing with you and Barbie’s. I got to see my daughter and what her future held. "
My mother had explained my children to me as though I had never seen a single moment of their upbringing. While I was dressing their Barbie dolls and doing their hair, I was living my future. My daughters were creating their own paths. It was a defining moment for all of us.
When my oldest daughters came home from college for the Thanksgiving break this year, I was a more observant parent. Listening to stories of college, work, and relationships was exciting and new. But, imagine my surprise when I found my oldest daughter playing with her baby sister in the play room. The Barbie’s were out and the boxes of clothes were everywhere. I was going to join them, when I heard my oldest say, " Let’s have a wedding. I am going to be the bride." I closed the door and cried. It seems I am going to be the mother of the bride.