Surrendering Dorothy: A Mother’s Love Story. ~ Sarah Rosenberg

Via elephant journal
on Mar 8, 2013
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Turning Her Back on Childhood.

Chapter 1: Dorothy’s House Drops on the Wicked Witch.

“Mommy, I think I want to try sleeping in my own bed tonight.”



Chapter 2: If I Only Had a Heart.

Then dead silence deep to my core; I went into one of those tunnels that happens in an instant and your whole life flashes before your eyes. This from the child who nursed until she was well past three years old, who called my name and told me she loved me from across the room when she hadn’t heard my voice in the previous three minutes, who still ran at me from tens of yards away and insisted I hoist her into the air into a parent-child version of the Dirty Dancing lift.

You’d think she’d just announced that our planet had been invaded by bodysnatchers or that someone had drunk the last of the chocolate milk I hoard to put in my morning coffee.

And it’s not like it wasn’t time for her to bust out on her own, sleeping-wise and all. I mean, she is nearly nine.

But just like that?

Out of the blue and pretty as you please? At precisely 7:42 on a Tuesday evening? 

I just wasn’t prepared, you know?


Chapter 3: If I Only Had a Brain.

To be fair, she had been giving me the cheek lately when I went in for a smooch.

And I had definitely noticed a lot more leading with the right shoulder when she’d hug me.

And then, of course, there were the growing instances of how little I knew about any given subject we were talking about…

And the unfamiliar gestures and body language I was beginning to notice…

But come on! Unilaterally dissolving the family bed?!

I might as well have been hit with a sidewinding foul ball from a Braves game, and I don’t even like baseball.

Precisely one second may have elapsed as all of this happened inside my head while simultaneously attempting to dislodge the harakiri dagger from my heart and appear as nonchalant and unaffected as I could.


Chapter 4: If I Only Had Courage.

“Oh. Well okay, baby. That sounds good. Which bed do you want to sleep in tonight?”

Then, the teenager came out of her, and I was once again sideswiped in the skull by a rival fly ball coming from some other baseball team I don’t know anything about. And she gave me one of those looks that says, “Duuuuuuuuuuhhhh!” and makes you feel like the most obvious of obviouses has just hit you square in the face but you didn’t see it coming.


Chapter 5: Flying Monkeys (Out of You-Know-Where).

And she uttered, matter-of-factly, as she twisted up the right side of her mouth and scrunched it into her eye,

“In the big bed, of course.”

Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie.The “big bed” is the same king-sized bed that I finally broke down and purchased when the queen-sized bed we used to sleep on couldn’t possibly contain the resolute and gravitationally-infused sleeping bodies of one 18-pound child, one medium-sized but amazingly dense dog and two feline furry things and still manage to be able to incorporate the unassuming person of the bill-paying provider of the household.

The “big bed” is the same big bed on which I changed the sheets multiple times after she’d been up all night vomiting on them, that time when she was four, before she learned so beautifully and dutifully to escort herself into the bathroom to do her puking without complaint or fear. And it’s the same big bed that she’d jump out of intermittently, in the middle of the night, and scurry to the bathroom to get a towel to sleep on top of because she had had an accident in her sleep and didn’t want to wake me up and bother me about LM bed

The “big bed” is the same big bed that accepted readily two additional cats and a dog and the increasing size of said 18-pound child as she grew into a whopping 46-pounder in the subsequent years, leading all the way up to 7:42 p.m. on this particular Tuesday.

And wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute! The “big bed” was my bed! And suddenly the humor of the situation was not lost on me, and I started to laugh, probably waaaay too loudly for what the moment merited, because I noticed that I kind of scared her with my laughter as she was certainly expecting some other sort of response to be emanating from my lips.

“So what bed am I supposed to sleep in, then?”


Chapter 6: The Wizard.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Chamberlin @ Our Labor of Love.
Photo: Our Labor of Love.

Pause. Silence. Consideration. Solution.

“Oh. Well, you can sleep in any bed you want, Mommy. There’s the little bed… And the book nook bed… And the couch… And the guest bed… Oh, well, maybe not the guest bed, though…”

And then I saw her, my eight-year-old nugget, peeking out from behind the teenaged ensemble she had momentarily donned, holding it across her face like a veil or, even still, the curtain that Toto pulled back to reveal that The Great And Powerful Oz was just a nervous but gracious little white-haired guy wearing an ascot.

“…The guest bed is so faaar. It’s all the way at the other side of the house.”


Chapter 7: Dorothy, All Grown Up.

In that 15-seconds of my life, I traveled from Earth to Hell to Heaven and back again. And I have never had a harder workout in so short a time in all of my many, many days, nor have I ever felt so accomplished.

That night, my girl slept in the “big bed,” and I, her Mommy, slept in the little bed nearby.



sarah rosenbergSarah Rosenberg runs with scissors, eats with her fingers, and lets her dogs kiss her on the mouth.  sarah lives and breathes as the grateful shepherd of her nearly-nine-year-old daughter whose old soul belies her young bodily incarnation.  sarah’s writing creates fissures in her seemingly hard surface, allowing slivers of brilliant light to shine out from within. She is a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

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Ed: Brianna Bemel


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11 Responses to “Surrendering Dorothy: A Mother’s Love Story. ~ Sarah Rosenberg”

  1. Dawn Meysel says:

    One of mine stayed till age 9 as well. She's nearly 15 now. I miss those sleep deprived days.
    Your writing speaks to my soul.
    Thank you 😀

  2. Alison Dealy says:

    Beautiful and dear to my heart <3

  3. lisa says:

    this is so lovely, resonates so clearly within me…evoking memories, gratitude, and clarity. Thank you so much for sharing this..bittersweet~humorous~serious…real. While my little "bundle-of-joy" is 23, this article enables me to come back to that sweetness which still resides inside my very soul…and i am reminded that this is exactly how it should be as our children come into their own secure, yet loving independence. Namaste….

  4. happilyyes says:

    Lovely! It pretty much happened the same way for me. With each passing day there is the tenderness of letting go along with the pride of watching him grow. Thanks for so beautifully expressing this process.

  5. sarah e rosenberg says:

    a mother's process is truly inexplicable, but that other mothers just seem to get it. it's the greatest job and at once the most challenging, this process of letting go . . . thank you for sharing the tenderness.

  6. Terri Lepthien says:

    I think you wrote my story. My Dorothy (yes, her real name) is now married and pregnant with her first child. I miss the crowded bed.

  7. sarah e rosenberg says:

    i keep hoping the bed will recrowd some day. maybe with the grandbabies . . . 🙂

  8. sarah e rosenberg says:

    thank YOU, dawn. let me know if there's life after 15!

  9. sarah e rosenberg says:

    namaste, sister mama. 🙂

  10. sarah e rosenberg says:

    <3 ali.

  11. cat says:

    Yep. The hardest thing to reconcile is a child's ever evolving independence. Loving you, Sarah.