My younger 7-year-old daughter still believes in the Easter Bunny, God love her. It’s exhausting for me to keep up the illusion as she gets older, but I’m not ready to disappoint her just yet. Ten years ago, I received the children’s book The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes (written by Du Bose Heyward) during my first pregnancy. I’ve read this book aloud countless times, even outside of the Easter holiday, but I have to admit that its feminist messages only recently hit me!
For those not familiar with this classic, written in 1939, it’s about how a simple country bunny, Mother Cottontail, becomes one of the five appointed Easter Bunnies (yes, reader, there are five Easter Bunnies) by showcasing her exceptional management skill as a mother of 21 bunnies.
Here is my list of four timeless lessons I gleaned from the mother of all bunnies:
1. It’s all about teamwork and trust – Mother Cottontail instills in her young charges that teamwork makes the dream work. She clearly is no dumb bunny. Instead of spending her time slaving after 21 bunnies, she teaches them to rely on themselves and each other. This tactic comes in handy when she must leave her little fluffballs for 24 hours to deliver Easter eggs.
2. Don’t give up your goals – As a young country bunny, Mother Cottontail always fantasized about being one of the five Easter Bunnies. She lets that hope fade, however, when she becomes a mother to multiple bunnies. She is told that her dream to be an Easter Bunny is unattainable. Years later, when her 21 bunnies grow older, she proves her detractors wrong.
3. Break the stereotype – Who says Easter Bunnies have to be powerful, male jack rabbits? Or rich white rabbits? Why can’t they be country bunnies with 21 kids? At the Easter Bunny auditions, Mother Cottontail demonstrates that she is kind, wise, and swift—running after 21 bunnies requires speed and stamina after all. She is chosen to deliver eggs, and by becoming a new kind of Easter Bunny, Mother Cottontail emerges as a role model for boy and girl bunnies everywhere.
4. Just get up and try – At the end of the story, after carrying Easter eggs all day, Mother Cottontail has to climb a steep, snowy mountain to deliver a special egg. She braves the icy incline and encounters a major setback. The Grandfather of all bunnies rewards Mother Cottontail for her courage, even though her first attempt falls short of her goal. He presents her with a pair of gold shoes which helps her complete her task and speeds her home to her 21 waiting bunnies.
Inevitably, my younger daughter will stop believing in the Easter Bunny, just as my older daughter did. But thanks to a kind and wise country bunny, who was way ahead her time, my kids will hopefully remember the enduring lessons of Mother Cottontail.