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Playing with Dolls and Delayed Motherhood

December 19, AD2013 4 Comments


“Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”
(Mk 10:15)

Children can be spiritual models for adults. The shepherd children of Fatima and child saints are proof of this, and generally speaking, children have many unique qualities adults should try to preserve.

Children are more honest, more playful, more likely to hug and touch. Children don’t have as many defenses; don’t hide as much behind fancy degrees and cool style. One thing that has touched me recently is how basic is it for children (especially little girls) to play with dolls. When I think back to my childhood, I remember the mysticism and imagination that surrounded caring for my doll. I loved feeling the weight on my arm and kissing its head. I wanted a real diaper bag and real diapers. When my mother recounts her few childhood toys, she remembers making baby dolls out of sticks or other simple materials and caring for them. I see countless girls bringing their doll with them to the supermarket or on a family outing. People ask, “Is that your baby? What’s its name?”

Why do little girls play with dolls?

Studies are showing that it isn\’t just sociological conditioning. PsychologyToday reports studies performed with monkeys in which males and females really do prefer different toys. A little girl and her doll are a classical combination that spans the centuries. The other day, I watched an eight-year-old give a baby a bath on an online game. She had to be careful not to get soap in the baby’s eyes. Even with a technological advancement that basic need to care for a baby remained.

Whatever be the reason, caring for a baby doll is important. It seems to be a basic desire that manifests itself in children. It seems to point to what is essential in life. How often have you seen a little girl carrying around a notepad, pretending to be a business executive? Or carry around any job-related toy as one carries around a doll?

I would venture to say that this is because marriage and childbearing is a primary vocation, while our job is a secondary vocation, and the natural order reflects that. We are all called to the universal call of holiness, to love and serve the Lord here and for eternal life. Then, we are called to a primary vocation, which according to the Catholic Church are: married life, the priesthood, consecrated life and the single life. Finally, our secondary vocation is our profession, our apostolate work, community involvement, etc.

The Natural Order

How often we mix up these clearly defined priorities, especially as women, and put a job above a family (and sometimes the family above God). Children seem to have their priorities a little straighter than adults sometimes. They want to give love and be loved, to hug, play and sleep. And little girls want to play with dolls. Motherhood seems to be inscribed in little girls’ very nature.

 For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men\’s eternal salvation. (Humanae Vitae, 4)

So why do people give up precious moments of caring for babies? And an even more serious question: Why do people give up babies all together? “Nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s.” (source)

Are we not giving up something very essential in our nature and what brings true joy and satisfaction? Is working late more important than giving the baby a bath? Is having more financial security more important than the experience of having another baby?

As I am sporting around my very first pregnant belly, the comments I have gotten are surprisingly positive: “Pregnancy, what a wonderful experience. I really miss it.” “It’s a special time in life, when everything is rosy-colored.” “There is nothing better in life.” “Enjoy it while it lasts.” Judging from these comments, I arrive at a conclusion: Playing with dolls is a natural and good thing. Having babies is also a natural and a good thing.

© 2013 Julie Machado.  All rights reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Julie Machado is a 30-year-old Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal to study theology. She now lives there, along with the rest of her family, her husband and her children. She believes the greatest things in life are small and hidden and that the extraordinary is in the ordinary. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.

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