This is the story of two blankies, Rough and Purple. Blankies that came into a house, impossibly soft, like the fur on the back of the softest animal you can imagine. Blankies whose colors were once as vivid as a sunset, Purple an exquisite cross between lilac and plum, Rough the palest of pale blues.
This is also the story of the two boys who named them, who at nine and seven years old still rub the blankies, like worry stones, between well-practiced fingers, as they drift off into swirling, sound sleep. Boys who have carried the blankies as constant companions to foreign lands and doctor’s appointments, to nursery-school naps and unfamiliar playdates. Boys who bestowed the blankies with so much attention that the small squares are now weathered thin by their love, tattered and smelling of sweat and saliva and, at times, the faintest trace of urine. Smelling, that is, of childhood itself.
Above all, this is the story of a mother who believes deeply in the power of transitional objects. This mother gave birth and, as their cords were severed, she looked at her babies and thought: you are desperately loved, but you are no longer attached to me. She thought: you are the most important things in my life, but I am important too. She thought: there are sacrifices to be made in motherhood, but there need not be martyrdom. And so she placed a blankie in each of their cribs and tucked it into their prams and she encouraged the boys to nestle their faces against it, instead of her breast, not always her breast, not always herself. And thus she had her children take their first steps down the road of independence before they could even walk.
You can read the rest of this essay here, at Brain, Child Magazine.