Saturday, January 26, 2013

Doll's Knickers

This morning Isabelle got a little glimpse of what she has missed out on by not having had the opportunity to meet her Grandma when she realised that this little pair of doll's knickers was made by my mother.

Look at the detail on them...properly hemmed at the waistline and the lace sewn on with a double row of stitching. That's just a little panties, it wasn't even going to be 'seen' as such, but it was just one of the many many beautifully crafted doll's clothes my mother made. Not alone that, she also made lovely dresses for us and it wasn't unknown for us to snuggle up at night wearing hand-made brushed cotton pyjamas. Our hats and gloves were always made in our favourite colours with matching or co-ordinating bobbles on top.

My mother had six children yet not one of us ever felt lacking for one-to-one time. We knew we and our dolls were special. We didn't have many or expensive toys but we never noticed that. In those days Santa Claus really did make toys. I remember one Christmas Santa delivered a beautiful doll's wardrobe which he must have painted just a few hours earlier, having first waited many long hours for six excited children to fall asleep. There was a little 'wet paint' sign hung on the door which was finished just like real furniture with those cute animal transfers typical of the 1970s.

When the recipient was finally given permission to carefully open the wardrobe, she was thrilled to find it filled with intricately crafted outfit after outfit, pyjamas, dressing gown, vests, knickers...all either carefully ironed and folded on one of the shelves or hanging neatly on tiny real wire hangers made by my father. It must have taken months for both my parents to complete that toy though it probably cost next to nothing in financial terms.

Other Christmases there were doll houses made from scratch, complete with hinged windows, doors and handmade furniture. (which withstood years of battery, I clearly remember the upturned tiled roof was a super see-saw!) a huge rag-doll called Flopsy, complete with amazing clothes (in fact to date I have yet to see a rag doll so lovely), quirky stuffed toys...and the thing is...I don't think my parents were that unusual.

What one of us thinks we have the time or ability to do all those things for our children? Personally I wouldn't even know where to start trying to make a dolls dress, properly made with darted bodice and pleated skirt. Though I can knit quite well (painstakingly taught by my mother when I was about 15) sewing is just not my forte. I have never knit an item of clothes for a doll. I do bits and pieces of crafts, baking reading aloud and suchlike with my children but it pales in comparison to what my parents did for all of us.

What has happened? By and large families were relatively larger and poorer than they are now, and yet mothers had time and the will to do all that. I know we never had a shop bought birthday cake or a dinner out of a box. We had home made bread, pies, real toffee and fudge, even our easter-eggs were made by my mother, and nobody thought that was unusual. If that happened now you'd be Queen of Pinterest. We'd seek acclaim on FaceBook and Blog about our skills. (Well I would anyway!!)

The saddest thing of all is that the history and memories of those times in my country are horribly marred and distorted by the heinous acts of brutality and abuse inflicted by some. It has come to the state that if you say something good about the past the answer is quite likely to be "Ah yea, that was nice for you...but..." The permission to have happy memories has all but been snatched away. Part of the far reaching effect of sin. The innocent are tarred with the guilty.

Well, as I look fondly at that little pair of dolly knickers, I'll tell you this...I'm not ashamed to say my mother was a great father was and is a great man. They were the norm. People were good. They were selfless and hard working and uncomplaining. I'm not going to apologise that I had an idyllic childhood. It's not wrong to have a good childhood even if another child does not. What's wrong is that that child is not treated well, or cared for, or loved. God wants all children to have a happy childhood, not that everyone is dragged down to the lowest common denominator. Let's aim to raise the bar. Let's aim to emulate the good parents of previous generations, not throw ditch water at them and trample on their memory for something they knew nothing of.

I am convinced my mother was a great saint. I am convinced that many of the adults I knew growing up were great saints. I honour their memory. I am thankful for a happy childhood. My heart breaks for the lost childhoods of the past just as it does for the lost childhoods of today. The  abused children whose suffering at this moment is brushed under the carpet because it serves no politically correct agenda. The non-national teenagers and young adults who as I write this are victims in this very country of human sex trafficking, who are going to be raped by men of my generation tonight and who some pimp is going to become rich from.  The women who in this week weep lost children, all 55 million in USA, all 7 Million in UK. The uncounted Irish lost...

Oh yes my heart breaks for human suffering and all the more to resolve that children will have a happy childhood like I had...that dolls will have little garments made by loving hands, that children can play in their pyjamas in a warm room in a secure environment knowing they are cherished. How to do that? By protecting families. By protecting marriage, not ripping it to shreds.  By protecting the relationship between woman and man. By not succumbing to the idea that everyone is there to serve me, to give me pleasure, to fit my plan or purpose. What a selfish way to live. The parents of the 50s, 60s 70s and earlier knew how to GIVE. Maybe they didn't have psychological studies or parenting gurus to consult, but they knew that a little pair of lace knickers, small enough for a dolly made for the turning out of secure adults. The investment was total. I hope to God I can live up to even a shadow of that standard.

Thank You Mammy...I am forever grateful for the hours you spent stitching tiny clothes, making dinners and passing on the knowledge of secure love. Thank You. xxx


  1. Knickers, jumpers, oh how I miss the language! Did I ever tell you that I spent one semester at Brighton College of Education (Go, Dolphins!)? I learned that sometimes I had cheek and never to refer to myself as cheap (in America that would mean thrifty). Someday, I am going to see Europe again.

    I could make those doll clothes, but I didn't get any little girls to make them for. Your parents loved you a great deal to go to all that trouble.

    1. Mary, I remember a while back you wrote a post about how you'd like to have dinner with some people you've met through blogs...well if you ever do make it to Europe, I would like to have dinner with you. I love following your stories xx

  2. Amen.

    My grandmother made all those kinds of things for my mother. She's gone now almost 13 years, but those clothes sit tucked away awaiting great-granddaughters to play with them.

    I think our societies, or at least American, is so concerned with bringing down EVERYONE, rather than bringing up and supporting those who need it most. {I guess the better to promote their own political agendas}


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