When you were born, at least a dozen of the family members gave us exquisite baby blankets. Hand stitched, quilted or crocheted, they were soft, beautiful, and a complete pain in my behind. For every visit, as family showed up to look at your stormy blue eyes, I had to remember who gave us which blanket to be sure to have it on hand to show that we were grateful for their thoughtfulness. I had learned this quickly after the first few questions about missing blankets, or comments on how much time so-and-so had put into their blanket, or sad observations on stains that appear as they do with every baby. Everyone wants to feel special and appreciated, so I did my best to keep it mind, despite being an exhausted new mother.
Luckily, you and I were able to spend most of our time alone. During those precious moments, I would carefully fold all the special blankets and put them away to keep them pristine. In their stead, I bought a five dollar blanket at Walmart. It was green, soft, and I didn’t have to care about it. If we sat outside in the grass, I would throw out the green blanket. No worries if it got grass-stained. If we played on the floor with the dogs or the cats, I would spread out the green blanket. It was easy enough to throw into the washer. As the air got cooler and we traveled to and from the babysitter, I could throw the entire green blanket over your car seat as we walked through the yard, unlike all of those teeny tiny baby blankets that would cover only half of you, or slip off as we scrambled to keep them clean.
As babies do, you grew, and grew. The special blankets stayed packed away, while you kept the green blanket tossed over your shoulder, a constant source of comfort to you as you crawled then walked. If you watched TV, the blanket curled around you and a cat. If you played in the floor, the green blanket was your cushion. When we traveled, you would wrap it around your arms as you leaned back in your car seat. Everyone became used to seeing you with your green blanket. Everyone assumed that green was your favorite color, when in reality it was mine.
Instead of a description, the blanket earned the name, The Green Blanket. Going out the door meant checking that you had The Green Blanket before we left. Bedtime meant making sure that you had The Green Blanket in bed with you. This went on for years.
This week, I was helping you to tidy up. Blankets are still the favorite gift of family members, so they tend to pile up. They are big and small, soft and slick. I see images of Elsa and Anna, of Minions, of solar systems, and rainbows. We folded them up and packed some of them away. It had been a while since I had seen The Green Blanket, and I had half forgotten about it. I flipped over a pillow, and there it lay, neatly folded as a cushion in the corner of your bed.
Casually, I asked if you wanted me to pack it away, since it was worn and not as soft as some of the new blankets. No, leave it there, you said. You looked at me, gave your little knowing grin, and patted me on the arm. I laughed at you, a little girl who knew exactly how to make her mother feel unique. I smoothed out the wrinkles in the fold of The Green Blanket, then covered it up with a pillow. A little bit of ordinary, but hidden and special for just the two of us.