First: Thank you all for the kind responses to my last post. It warms my cold, dead heart to know there are so many folks out there who were, in a way, walking along with me for so many years while we ushered my oldest through All The Scary Things all the way to (theoretical) adulthood. It’s lovely to have a virtual army on call. (One especially generous longtime reader—and I am not suggesting anyone should feel they should do the same, or that it wasn’t a huge surprise—actually contacted me about getting an incredible gift to Chickie. While the gift itself is awesome and much appreciated no matter how much the giver tried to minimize it, the inclination and thought is what left me on the verge of grateful tears. You people are just the NICEST, and that’s all there is to it.)
Second: As of this morning, I am no longer the mother of teenagers. This is, if possible, even weirder than Chickadee graduating from college. But here we are! If you ask me now how old my children are, I will pause, suffer a small coronary, and tell you the truth: 20 and 21. Mah BAYYYBEEE is 20, and no amount of incredulity will turn back the clock.
Long ago and far away, when I was trying (and failing) to get pregnant, I taught myself how to crochet. I’d tried knitting several times and could never really get the hang of it, but crocheting seemed easier. Just one needle! A hook, to keep the yarn from just falling off, all willy-nilly! This was pre-Internet-in-your-pocket-at-all-times, of course, when people had to have hobbies other than aimlessly scrolling online. A coworker’s wife was having a baby, and I made them a baby blanket for the shower. It probably wasn’t very good—it was the first project I completed, and I sure didn’t know how to weave in ends properly or block anything at the time—but they were gracious about it, and my new obsession was solidified. You were having a baby? I’d make you a blanket. You were a friend moving into a new home? Blanket. You may be sensing a theme here, as it took me a while to move on to anything else. Eventually some parents-to-bed also received hats and booties, but mostly I worked on perfecting the whole blanket thing. I would crochet for hours, often while watching television, hoping my busy hands would keep my mind occupied, too.
Eventually I got pregnant, but I miscarried, and I stopped crocheting. I put all the yarn and needles away, certain I would never be making anything for my own child, and tired of wishing I could. (Again, this was still pre-rampant-Internet, so it’s not even like I had cat memes to cheer me up. IT WAS A DARK TIME.)
I had to be well into my second trimester with Chickadee before I was convinced I really, truly, was having a baby. Finally. And then I became convinced—in the way that pregnant women do, the same way I would later decide at 8 months pregnant that it was imperative I scrub every inch of grout in the kitchen with bleach and a toothbrush—that I needed to crochet the Best Blanket Ever for my impending bundle of joy. I dug out my pattern books and needles. I went to the store for supplies. I stood in front of the Big Wall Of Yarn and selected, first, a pure white, and then, a variegated pastels yarn of greens, purples, aqua, and yellow. Perfect for spring! Back home again, I started working on it right away, as I’d picked a pattern made of squares and I knew it would be time-consuming.
When, exactly, I finished her blanket, I can’t tell you. Before she was born, but not by much. Crocheting the squares was inconsequential. Sewing them together and weaving in approximately six zillion yarn ends became The Task That Will Never End, although after copious swearing and probably some crying, eventually it did. Her blanket was placed lovingly in the hospital bag and I wrapped her in it shortly after she was born. There are pictures of her either in or on it the first several months of her life, after which she made it clear she was Absolutely Not A Blankie Baby and said blanket was rejected. I put it in the closet, knowing in the back of my mind that it might be worth saving for her adulthood.
When Monkey was on the way, I knew I had to make him a blanket as well, but I also knew that with a toddler hanging off of me and a growing pregnancy, I would hurl myself into traffic if I attempted the same pattern again and had to face Sewing-and-End-Weaving Purgatory. Back to my pattern books I went, finally settling on a pattern that LOOKED like assembled squares but was, in fact, a single piece. No sewing, and many fewer ends to weave in, as it was suggested that a single color would suffice. Back to the craft store I went, this time wondering what to pick for a winter baby, a winter boy baby, though I wasn’t interested in doing the whole OH IT MUST BE BLUE thing. I settled on a bright, variegated yarn in jewel-tones of greens and blues and purples, and shortly thereafter I was back to my crochet hook, working away to be ready for the new baby.
Again, the blanket went into the hospital bag. Again, there are pictures of him in or on it for the first few months. Unlike his sister, Monkey was most definitely a Blankie Baby. But also (unlike his sister), he had terrible colic and projectile vomited on everything, all the time, while I wondered how many times that blanket could go through the washer without disintegrating; and also he seemed to prefer the flannel receiving blankets with the satin trim for his everyday blanket needs. Again, the blanket landed in the closet after not too long.
When we moved to Georgia, I emptied the house we’d lived in for so long, and I know I packed up the baby blankets (carefully!) and they were not a victim of the last minute “just start putting stuff in the dumpster” panic I had at the 11th hour when my basement still wasn’t packed and the moving truck was due the next morning. At the same time, I didn’t have a clear memory of what I’d packed them in, and although the linen closet in our bedroom, of all places, holds a Ziploc which contains shreds of several beloved “tee-tees” (those Winnie-the-Pooh satin-trimmed blankets Monkey carried around for most of his childhood), I couldn’t remember seeing the crocheted blankets since we’d moved. Which was fine, because I know they’re here. Somewhere. And who needs a baby blanket right now?
One day a couple of months ago, Chickadee texted me to ask if I had the baby blanket I’d made her. I told her I definitely did, but I wasn’t sure where, why? Oh, she’d just thought of it—some friends had been discussing things from when they were little, and she knew I’d made her one and wondered if it was still around. It is, I assured her. Somewhere.
This was the first time it occurred to me that maybe I DIDN’T have those blankets. I mean, we’ve lived here coming up on 13 years. Had I EVER seen those blankets in this house? I couldn’t recall.
The next day I went through every closet in the house. I didn’t find them. And I felt sick.
Life went on—Chickadee graduated, I spent a day helping her pack up her apartment, and then Otto and I spent an afternoon cleaning out and rearranging the attic to make room for everything that would be returning home with her and needing storage before she’s off on the next adventure. We pulled out suitcases and toys and boxes of detritus, and after a while we’d cleared a large enough area to house the furniture and boxes that would be coming in the next day. Otto kept poking in the remaining stacks of stuff, though, and found a printer box which he kicked out from behind some computer boxes. “We don’t have this printer anymore, so that can go,” he said.
“I’ll recycle it,” I said, reaching out.
“Feels like there’s something in it,” he said, handing it to me.
“Probably just the styrofoam,” I said, but when I went to open it, it was taped shut. I turned it over to try to find the end of the tape, and saw KIDS BABY BLANKETS written in Sharpie on the side. In my own damn handwriting.
First of all, we’re not discussing whether I cried, because shut up; and second of all, why in the WORLD did I put those blankets in a printer box and then (then!) put said box in the VERY BACK OF THE ATTIC when we moved in? Past me is dumb. (Current me isn’t much better, but whatever.)
tl;dr: The blankets have been rescued, admired, and are now vacuum-packed in a clear bin where I hopefully won’t lose track of them again. And this is important because… reasons, I guess. I don’t know.
Chickadee’s response to my find was to say “YAYYYY!” and ask me if I would ever take up crocheting again, and I told her the truth—probably not, because I spent so much time typing, now, I’m not sure I need another repetitive motion hobby. Plus now I like to aggravate myself by painting in my spare time, anyway. Monkey’s response to my jubilant I FOUND THE MISSING BABY BLANKETS was, “Cool,” as he jogged back up the stairs to his lair.
I don’t see him much, these days. He works, he comes home, he goes upstairs and games with his friends. He’s about to start taking classes again and despite, or maybe because of, the history there, I ask only few and general questions and back off, leaving him to make it work this time on his own, or at least to be the one to ask for help if he needs it.
Yesterday I baked him a chocolate cake, and last night I whipped up the frosting. Before I started frosting the cake, I called up the stairs. “Hey, Monkey?”
“Yeah?” There’s a tone there that means he’s wary I’m about to ask him to do a chore.
“I guess not,” he said, resigned to whatever grunt work I was about to assign him, because I am The Worstâ„¢.
“Come down for a minute?”
There was a pause, then he appeared on the steps, all gangly legs and arms (still, my eternal newborn fawn of a manchild), and I pulled the mixer beater out from behind my back and handed it to him. “A gift!” I said.
“Oh BOY!” he answered, taking it, and we laughed together.
He followed me back into the kitchen, alternating licking the frosting from the paddle and talking to me about I can’t even remember what, now, and we chatted while I assembled the layers of the cake and smoothed frosting round and around.
“Thanks!” he said, finally, dropping the beater into the sink, and heading back upstairs. I finished the cake and put it in the fridge.
Later on, I heard the kids laughing upstairs and then Licorice came tearing down the stairs in full zoomies mode. I decided not to ask what had happened there, although much later Monkey did reappear for a snack and to ask if Licorice had run in after they were playing with her. Licorice doesn’t get the zoomies all that often anymore, you know, because she—like me—is turning into an old lady and slowing down a little.
Anyway, I don’t have any teenagers anymore. My kids are full-on adults, my dogs are old, and life keeps marching onward. Thank goodness for chocolate cake, right?