de(tales): ducky

de(tales): ducky

Nicole is a voice of freedom in my life. We met through an online community of writers at a time when I was learning to embrace my body in all of its human-ness. We got to hug and chat too briefly last February at a conference. She never ceases to be encouraging on that front (and many others). Besides that, she is a beautiful writer. 

Enjoy, friends. 

de(tales): ducky
de(tales): ducky

As soon as he’d left my hand, I regretted tossing him into the air. Before his little, fluffy wings could flap twice in the bedtime air, her voice rang out to pierce my mother’s heart.

"Mom! Ducky, is one of the family. He’s like my heart on the outside. Be careful!"

Our "Velveteen Rabbit" is a stuffed duck named Ducky. He arrived at our house before my daughter was even born; one of many gifts from friends for our firstborn. We did not choose him nor did we think he would be her favorite. No one gets to choose their favorites, though. Favorites choose you.

He has a music box inside his belly and a handle to pull that stretches his little body long and lean. As it contracts back to its chubby resting shape, a lullaby plays. This was his first key into her life.

See, our oldest had a terrible time sleeping. Call it colic or call it torture, but she would cry herself into a frenzy every night no matter what we did. We found order and a way to count the time by pulling that little musical cord inside Ducky.

Each pull was a manageable time to survive. We could do anything for one length of the lullaby. Hold her for one lullaby. Let her cry for a lullaby. Sit on the floor and let myself cry for one lullaby. Stand over the crib praying reminder-prayers that she is God’s child not mine and He is using all things for good… even this… for one lullaby. Hold her tense, little body and Ducky close together on my chest for one lullaby.

Repeat again and again.

As time went on and she eventually learned to soothe herself to sleep. She gained control of her limbs and used that power to hold tight to Ducky. Her full, little fingers rubbed Ducky’s silky neck ribbon. This was his second key into her life: that little, silky ribbon. Rub back and forth. Back and forth. Rhythm. Sensation. Comfort.

Years of comfort were in that little yellow ribbon. Through nighttimes and dentist chairs, long car rides and family pictures, Ducky was there - always there to comfort and protect.

He has been her courage - truly, her "heart on the outside."

It’s been many years since I could so flippantly toss his once-yellow body through the air and onto a bed, and ten years since we first met. Now threadbare and brown, Ducky stays home most days. He rests on a handmade bed of scraps of fabric, single socks, and borrowed scarves - a prince among stuffed paupers.

He prays with us each night before bed, going first and speaking through my daughter’s falsetto voice. He is real, as real as the mother-to-little-ones that I was these last ten years.

I see in Ducky’s faded color and the holes forming around the words “Ducky Kisses” on his chest, the time and wear I have experienced. All the days of love, demands, sticky hands, cuddles, and rough play have passed in that miraculous way - where each day is an eternity and each year is just a brief moment.

I see in Ducky my own becoming. Being loved by a child changes you. I too have changed colors and show holes around my words. My stuffing doesn’t always stay in place. But I am more real than ever before - more vulnerable, beautiful, brave, and loving.


“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. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. 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 the 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.”

― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Nicole Romero
Nicole Romero

Nicole Romero created Love and Making It {a course in beauty & intimacy}, will cross oceans to see you believe your own beauty, and leads a thriving arts ministry in Southern California. As a blogger and speaker across the country, Nicole spends her time creating rich conversations around hard topics like leadership, faith, doubt, relationships, and what it means to live with a full spirit in a real body.  Nicole is also very good at relaxing with her family... and eating Nutella. Get to know her at and on Twitter at @nicoletteromero – Everything is connected.