Don’t Cry, My Doll, Don’t Cry
Don’t cry my doll
I hold you and rock you to sleep
I’m pretending now
I’m not your mother who died.
I’LL NEVER FORGET the chill of recognition that ran through me when I first read this snippet of Marilyn’s effort to express her motherless childhood through poetry. Who can blame her for her con- fusion? I can’t. After all, where else can a child get her first awareness of what life is like except in her mother’s womb? And what does a girl- child do if her mother’s love doesn’t survive the pregnancy, leaving her like a stillborn? I know those may be confusing, convoluted questions, but some girls never know anything but a life with those kinds of ques- tions, and they never find a single answer.
“Been thinking of my mother a lot lately. I was a mistake. My mother didn’t want to have me. I guess she never wanted me. I probably got in her way. I know I must have disgraced her. A divorced woman has enough problems in getting a man, I guess, but one with an illegitimate baby… I wish, I still wish, she had wanted me.” —Marilyn
There is little, if any, shame attached to having a child outside of the sanctity of marriage in twenty-first century America, but in the mid-twentieth century, there was still horrific shame attached to the unwed mother and her illegitimate child. The woman was considered loose, a “fallen woman,” or “used goods,” hardly better than a cheap whore; and the child, whether male or female, was considered a bastard.
Marilyn was never able to hide that fact, at least not from herself. Even when she was well along in her career, it cast its shadow over her life.
“I posed with Alan Ladd for a photo today. He couldn’t get over that my mother was a Hollywood film cutter and that my real name was Norma Jeane Mortenson. I never mentioned to him that I was really a bastard child who should have been named Norma Jeane Gifford!” —Marilyn
Like Marilyn, I knew what it meant to be labeled a bastard; and like her, I also spent the first thirty-five years of my life running from society’s definition of our unmarried mothers and unconventional children. The shame of what I was seemed as basic as my cell structure, a maternal inheritance. (P.g. 1-2) To be continued……..
Ragdoll Redeemed:Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe (purchased at www.Amazon.com)