When I added you to my baby registry one rainy weekend morning, I had no idea the significance you’d bring to my life. I distinctly remember running my fingertips over your brushed muslin cotton, imagining using you to swaddle a tiny newborn baby girl. I also was filled with hormonally-based (and therefore, slightly irrational) questions: How would you hold up after countless washes? Would your gender neutral pattern be too plain for my daughter? Exactly how much split-up could your soft, yet thin, fabric manage to hold before the regurgitated breast milk soaked through to my clothing?
All these questions spun around in my head while my husband eagerly held the registry gun next to me, visibly excited to scan your packaging bar code and officially add you to the registry list. With the simple click of a plastic red trigger, you were on your way to becoming one of the first baby gifts I would receive.
I packed you in the hospital bag, even though I knew there would be no shortage of pink and blue striped hospital blankets after my daughter’s birth. Those few days were a whirlwind, complete with visits from nurses, doctors, family members, and friends. You waited patiently to be put to use, which finally came on the day we were heading home.
It was a frigid 8 degrees the New Years Eve morning that we walked to the car for the first time as a family of three. As brand new parents, petrified of the million mistakes we could possibly make, we folded you in half and carefully tucked you around our tiny 5 pound, 13-ounce bundle of joy, trying to keep the freezing winter air off of her skin. You worked your magic, as she hardly seemed to notice the transition from the hospital exit to the back seat of the car.
Once we arrived home, the real action began. And just as I had envisioned, you were useful, yet I had no idea how irreplaceable you’d become. You were there for swaddling and you were there for burping. You were there for tummy time and you were there for endless games of peek-a-boo. You were there for messy feeding sessions and you were there for up-the-back blow-outs.
Around the six-month mark, I noticed that she was grabbing for your tags at naptime. Her eyes would become heavy as she’d carefully rub the satin square between her petite fingers. She’d continue to hold tight to you, even long after she was off into dreamland. I knew she was officially hooked on you.
Now that my daughter has grown into an ambitious toddler, your purpose has changed, and you somehow seem to be more important than ever. You are there for scraped knees and you are there to wipe tears. You are there to catch vomit during bouts of carsickness and nasty stomach bugs.
You are there for comfort and you are there for practicality. And thank goodness, you are there every morning when she walks into daycare. While I was initially nervous that she wanted to bring you every place — even to “school” — there is research to show that you actually help her transition into the world, which adults know can be quite the scary place. It makes me smile to know that her love for you will allow her to feel safer and more secure as she adjusts to new people and places.
She affectionately calls you her “binty.” “Mama, my binty,” she says before bedtime, without fail. No matter where I am in the house or what I am doing, everything stops until you are tucked between her pillow and cheek.
One day, years from now, she may decide that she doesn’t need to ask for you at bedtime. She may decide that your new home is in the top drawer of her dresser, or tucked up in her closet. It makes me sad to think of that day, as I know it will mean that she is growing up, asserting her independence and acting less fearful of the world around her. And the reality is, if she doesn’t need you to protect her in the same way she did when she was little, this probably means that she won’t need me in the same way either.
But I am confident there will be days even when she is older that she will still seek you out for comfort. It might be after a fight with her best friend, or after her first crush doesn’t return her affection. She might secretively find you in her dresser for a quick hug, or after my gentle knock on her bedroom door reveals a whimpery, “Come in,” she may ask me to retrieve you for her. The request will certainly come in a different form than it currently does, but it will still be just as meaningful.
“Mom, I know I’m not a baby anymore, but do you think you can get my blankie for me?”
Without a skipping a beat, knowing exactly where your hiding spot is, I will pull you out and tuck you between her pillow and cheek just as I’ve done countless times before. The tears you catch on those days will be just as important as the infant and toddler tears you caught when she was younger.
And for that, and all the other reasons you have made my daughter feel loved and safe, I will forever be grateful for you.
With love and gratitude,
A Thankful Mom