What is “REAL”?- ICLW

When my baby niece was born, my sister would sit with her in her nursing chair and “count her blessings” with her before bedtime. Being only a few months old, she couldn’t do much more than gurgle, but I was so taken by their bond and their little rituals. When it was time to say goodnight, my sister would play George Winston’s piano accompaniment to “The Velveteen Rabbit,” narrated by Meryl Streep. My sister and I love this story and it has always meant a great deal to us. It was a treasure to share it with the next generation of little girls in our family.

I think it will always touch me deeply, now on the cusp of my own pregnancy, after a long hard journey to get here, it becomes even more poignant.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time… Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him…”


I don’t think REAL is about becoming pregnant, or being loved by a child. For each of us it is very different. REAL for me was acknowledging my strength and my flaws, my uniqueness and my hope to touch others. To love myself even with shabby edges and pain and imperfection.

To come out of this journey and feel WHOLE and find joy again on the inside is truly inexpressible. It has been a long road to get to this place inside my head. Once you have been diagnosed with infertility, whether by age or physiology you are somehow changed. But if you can find that spark to love and honor yourself, even through the hurt and pain, you are truly REAL.

Much love to you…..

Here is the opening to the Velveteen Rabbit. It’s quite beautiful. Enjoy!


8 responses to this post.

  1. This post made me tear up. You are so right and insightful. What made me feel real was finally realizing that I wasn’t just failing upwards, but that I was actually accomplishing things- on tiny step at a time. Not just at work, but in my relationships and creative life too. But it took years of what felt like failure and a lot of self-reflection to see where I had arrived.


  2. I loved that book. I still have my childhood copy. Great post.


  3. One of my favorite books. Always tears me up.


  4. Such a beautiful post. Wonderfully written.



  5. Aw, I had forgotten how much I love that book… Thanks for reminding me!



  6. Congratulations on your baby!!



  7. This is just lovely. I think I need to read The Velveteen Rabbit to our baby boy tonight! Also, congratulations on your pregnancy!


  8. This is a beautiful post – I think I have that book around here somewhere – thank you for reminding me.



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