Single Lady with Cats

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And dolls. And books.

Are you looking for the exit yet?

I’m a walking cliche. I’m a 44-year-old childless woman caring for an elderly parent. I have two cats. I read and write books. And–here’s your cue to RUN–I collect dolls. And not expensive antique dolls that reside in a glass display cabinet. No, I collect articulated dolls, and I’m trying to learn to make clothes for them.

People assume I’m single. They assume quite a lot of things. They assume that I’m mentally stunted in some way, or deranged, or dangerous, or unable to interact with others.

Maybe if you behaved better, if you offered me something, if you treated me decently, I wouldn’t live in this world you love to mock.

That didn’t feel good when you read it, did it? A taste of one’s own medicine is always bitter.

And it’s not true, anyway. I would be what I am regardless of anyone else. Ask my ex-husband.

My earliest memories are of my mother cutting the picture of the baby off the empty Dreft laundry soap box and giving it to me to play with. I recall reading something about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother cutting fashion dolls out of Godey’s Lady’s Book and giving them to Laura and Mary. I don’t have a citation for that, and I question whether that was one of Laura’s “embellishments,” because Godey’s Lady’s Book was sacrosanct to women settlers and I can’t imagine Caroline Ingalls cutting up the only “magazine” she had that connected her with the world outside of being a settler’s wife. Don’t get me started on “Pa” Ingalls. That’s a subject for another blog.

I outgrew the Dreft babies and moved up to Gingham Girls. Gingham Girls were a set of paper dolls, fashions placing them in the late 1880s-1890s, and each doll came in a box with pop-up decor that made a “room.”

In the meantime, I was already a passionate reader and “cat girl.” My mother always had cats. She tried to rescue every stray. When she was pregnant with my middle sister, I was about three, and I asked her how the baby got out of her stomach. She had a C-section with me and knew she’d have to have another, so she told me that she would go to the hospital and the doctor would take the baby out of her tummy.

Our living room was situated so that my father’s armchair was under the window that looked out onto the back porch. My mother had a pregnant cat and had fixed up a box for her on the back porch. She walked into the living room one day and found me looking over the back porch, down into the box where Missy was having kittens.

And I said to my mother, in the accusing tone that only a three-year-old who is completely outraged can manage, “Mommy, you lied to me.”

(to be continued)

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