Do you remember Linus, Lucy’s little brother in the Charlie Brown comics? His preoccupation with his blanket has achieved icon status and he even has his own song in the musical, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Those of us who have raised children have probably asked ourselves if our five-year-olds will take their security blankets to kindergarten with them. The ratty, smelly scrap that’s left of the beautiful quilt lovingly bestowed upon our little darling at birth has become an embarrassment.
Security blankets clearly hold emotional attachments for many children. Psychologists say that such emotional attachment is “essentialism” — a state where the object such as the blanket holds a value beyond its physical existence. For a child, the security blanket wards off scary things and protects its owner from harm. That’s why children don’t want to replace their ratty blanket; the new one does not carry the same values as the original, even if it looks exactly like the old one.
Back in 2006, my mom was in the hospital and a nursing home for six months after emergency abdominal surgery that practically killed her. When I saw how sterile her hospital room was, I ran out to buy her the softest, most tactile blanket throw I could find. She used it for the last five years during her lengthy decline when she was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes every few months. For me, it became a talisman — a security blanket that kept me hoping she would eventually recover and literally throw aside her bodily chains. As long as Mom was using that blanket, it meant there was hope.
Mom passed away in June and truly loosed her earthly bonds. When we divided up her possessions, I grabbed that soft blanket and brought it back home with me. It’s been sitting around in a box all summer and I decided that I had better wash it. I forgot that losing the dust of summer also meant losing the smell of my mother. The blankie came out of the wash smelling like my laundry detergent, and yet one more piece of my beloved mother is gone forever.
Sometimes my “new normal” just feels bad . I miss you, Mommy.