Teddy bears are worth holding onto for (dear) life – you are never too old. Some things don’t serve you, like guilt, and shame and old socks and you just need to let them go, but not a treasured teddy.
A teddy (or two or three) can take you through life’s lowest lows. You see when we think of favourite teddy bears (or whatever stuffed animal/s may have stolen your heart) we are reminded of the comfort they provided, not the pain that needed comforting. We are reminded that we can get through anything, with a little support, something (or someone) soft to cuddle.
The first bear in this story is a classic teddy – tan and fluffy with the sort of scraggly fur that mats and tangles, deep dark brown eyes and a ribbon around his neck that faded and frayed and is gone now. I say ‘he’ because I tend to think of all teddies as male, unless of course they are pink and fluffy or dressed female like the ‘build-a-bear’ that is my daughter’s favourite right now (Sophie is actually a coral coloured bunny with big floppy ears and a ballet tutu). She was ‘built’ just the way Miss Yin wanted her (minus the additional accessories that would have bumped up her cost above the almost $65 we forked out, Miss Yin chipping in half so as to realise the ridiculous cost of said coral bunny). Come to think of it, the whole ‘build-it’ concept is a bit creepy, like genetic engineering – a new take on the cabbage patch doll craze of adopting a doll to order (also a bit creepy).
Of course life is seldom so simple.
Back to the first bear – he is big, and was also rather expensive, if my very long memory serves me. He was purchased in the very early (hopeful) days of us ‘trying’ for kids (funny that expression ‘trying’ as if you aren’t quite sure it’s the sex thing that should do the trick – but most apt when it comes to the process of trying to conceive against the odds of infertility).
I bought Big Ted, who has never been named, and dreamed normal dreams of motherhood, consoling myself as time wore on that he’d soon have a cuddle mate. Things weren’t normal. He/she refused to be born.
The second bear in this tale came worn, and wrapped in plastic. I’d actually bought this little white bear, the small, cheap sort that you buy at a florist on the way to a hospital after an emergency of some sort. In this case I gave him to my good friend, who’d just ‘lost’ her baby in an ectopic pregnancy. It was her first pregnancy and she’d been rushed to hospital for the operation to remove the baby from her tube. A little white bear wasn’t much consolation, but I gave it to her with a big bear hug and my love. She fell pregnant not long after with her eldest son – now a 21 year old young man.
Me, I waited a while to meet the right man, marry and then start ‘trying’ (and trying, and trying, and well trying). And then I found myself rushed to hospital for an operation to remove my ectopic pregnancy from my tube – our first IVF cycle had gone horribly wrong – I’d ‘lost’ our baby.
My friend had kept the little white bear over the years (in comfort), and returned that love to me when she visited me a couple of days later with the bear all dry-cleaned and wrapped in plastic. I clung onto him in the dark days that followed like he was the most precious bear in the world. I’ve kept him for the 15 years since (he’s a bit discoloured, with a torn ear, stitched up now).
The third bear in this tale is flat – he’s a Flat Bear (also his unoriginal name) – and my Mum gave him to us for our son before we headed to China to adopt him. Our daughter never really took to bears or stuffed toys, at least not as a baby or toddler. She had a couple of ‘favourites’, but it was her blankie that became a constant companion and comfort. She’s just turned 10 and is sleeping beside me, with said blankie, as I type (hubby being on nightshift, and Little Yang being in his ‘cubby house’ at the end of our room, sleeping with a collection of teddies.
I was a little disappointed that Little Yang didn’t take to Flat Bear – who features in all our adoption day photos. He’s chocolate brown and super soft, his eyes buried under his thick woolly coat. Flat Bear always brings back fond memories of meeting a happy, smiling Little Yang, so different to meeting Miss Yin, when she clung (for dear life) onto an ugly looking rubber kangaroo given to her by the orphanage to foster some kind of connection to the country she would call home. She screamed, and screamed, and screamed.
So Flat Bear was relegated to a shelf in Little Yang’s room, then I eventually put him away, with Big Ted and the little white bear that I’d never even named either even though I’ve loved him so.
The other day Little Yang was watching the video I’ve made of his adoption (five times in a row) and he started asking for Flat Bear. Well I couldn’t seem to find him up in the cupboard (he’d fallen in between some boxes) and instead I retrieved the little white bear, who I promptly named Boo Bear after Little Yang asked his name – because of course all teddy bears deserve to be named and loved.
So now Little Yang is walking around with little Boo Bear and Flat Bear and a collection of other soft toys and is currently snuggled up to them in the ‘cubby house’ at the end of our room.
We should always cherish our sources of comfort – I’ve grieved ‘lost’ babies, pregnancies unfulfilled, long ‘lost’ years of infertility and waiting, waiting, waiting out the adoption process. But I’ve been comforted, by teddy bears and by people, and I now realise I can hold onto those feelings of loving consolation (and the strength I gained) without holding onto the pain associated with it.
I can let go of guilt and shame, without letting go of that feeling of comfort I got from holding onto a teddy bear, or my husband, literally for dear life, when things got so low that perhaps I could have let go altogether.
(I’d felt gravel under the wheels when I’d failed to turn the wheel at a bend until the last minute, played chicken on a cliff edge before hugging into my husband, weighed up pros and cons).
So hug a teddy bear, a partner, a friend – don’t be afraid or ashamed to draw on all your sources of support whenever you need them – and draw on the comfort of the knowledge that you have, and will, get by with a little help from your friends, including those of the soft, furry variety.
If you, or someone you love, needs help with depression or anxiety you can contact Beyond Blue. Lifeline offers emergency support, call 13 1114.
Linking up today for FYBF at With Some Grace – lots of lovely support in this community. Cheers