9:12 PM

I love books. The feel of them, their smell, the stories contained within. I just love them. We...well I...have quite a collection. Every bookcase in our house is packed and there is at least one book resting on every flat surface. And I have so looked forward to the opportunity to share them with my children.

C...well...C took a long time to come by. When I found out I was pregnant with her, I had basically given up hoping The Beloved and I would ever have a child of our own. But, lo and behold, I was wrong. And so now I have someone with whom to share stories old and new.

We were fortunate to receive many books from friends at a baby shower prior to C's birth. And I was so excited to begin reading them with her. When we all came home and I held her in my arms and tried to read, all I could do was cry. There she was...she was so perfect...and she was ours and we were hers! And whenever I tried to share my books--our stories--I wept. I wept because she was wonderful and because she was a miracle and because I didn't believe I would ever have the opportunity that stood before me but there she was in my arms looking up at me in all of her perfection...and probably because of all the hormones, too, but that's something else.

After a week or two, I gave up trying to read picture books because I couldn't possibly get through them. So, the first book we read together ended up being Coraline by Neil Gaiman. We then moved on to stories from The Blue Fairy Book...which I had actually started reading aloud to my belly during the latter part of my pregnancy.

Eventually, I could read picture books and board books with her. She loves her stories and will frequently bring people books to share...Sometimes she wants The Very Hungry Caterpiller, and sometimes she favors The Essential Gandhi. She's a strange one.

This morning before school, she brought me a board book I had purposefully hidden: The Velveteen Rabbit.

The pages have a fair amount of text on them, considering it's a board book, so I just talked about the pictures thinking that by avoiding the actual text of the story, I'd be OK. close...but no. When I got to the picture of the rabbit in the bag of discarded toys and the Nursery Fairy, I could feel my throat close and my eyes well up and somehow I made it to the end and only cried a little. We repeated the process this afternoon.

At bedtime, she wanted it again, but this time she wanted the whole story. She wanted me to read it to her, not just point out the pictures. So I did. And I cried a little when the old rocking horse talks about being Real. And I cried some more when the boy pronounces the rabbit Real. And I sobbed when the Fairy talks about how she can make the rabbit Real because he has been loved by a child. All the while, my poor child is looking at me in utter confusion: Why do bunnies make Mama so sad?

The story has always made me teary, but it's somehow different...truer...when I tell it to my own dear girl than it was the last time I read it. I can't help but wonder if it's because C has made me Real by loving and needing me as much as I love and need her.

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