The Security Blanket

marenWhen my boys were toddlers, they took a page from the Linus Van Pelt playbook and carried their favorite baby blankets everywhere they went– to the playground, to the grocery store, to church if I’d let them. I had to sneak them away to wash them. And believe me, after being traipsed through the mud of the playground and across our not-so-clean floor day in and day out, they needed the washing.

Maren, my current toddler, likes her blanket, but she doesn’t have the same attachment to hers that her brothers had to theirs. Instead, she chooses one or two (or five) toys to carry around every day. Many days, she’ll have a Dora the Explorer action figure in one fist, a Little Person in the other one, and a Belle dress big enough to fit her older sister tripping her up with every step.

A few nights ago, we went to the playground after dinner. Maren refused, in good two-year-old fashion, to set down her toys or let me take off her costume, so she had to be much more careful than usual. She made slow progress up the ladder, checking to see that she wouldn’t trip on tulle on the way up. When I asked her to hand over Dora so she could slide more easily, she grabbed her plastic idol even tighter and flung herself down the slide.

I could see that it would just be so much easier if she’d set down the darn toys, take off the stupid princess dress, and play. And suddenly, in the Texas twilight, I realized that Heavenly Father probably sees me in much the same way that I see Maren. If I could get rid of my silly hangups, I could slide more freely, climb even higher, and accomplish more than I do right now.

It’s been a little bit hard for me to recognize what my transitional objects are– those things I cling to out of familiarity, that could be holding me back. I think that my tendency to turn inward and tune out my family is one (I’d so much rather read a book to myself than read one to my kids). Do you know what yours are? How do you keep from having them limit you from reaching your potential?

About Shelah

(Editor-in-Chief) lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and six kids. She has a BA in English Teaching from BYU, an MA in American Culture Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and an MFA in Creative Writing at BYU. Her work has been published in Dialogue, the Mormon Women Project, Irreantum, BYU Studies, and Segullah. When she’s not writing or wrangling, she can often be found running through the city in the pre-dawn darkness.

14 thoughts on “The Security Blanket

  1. I find they are constantly changing. Things taking preminence and needing to be dropped– but i too can very tight fisted, and cling to my encumberances! great post.

  2. I’d rather talk about my kids’ security blankets than my own, because somehow a tattered old blanket makes much more sense to me than my tendency to avoid things I am loathe to deal with–even though meeting them head on would be more productive and helpful.

    Leslie is right on–great post. I’m going to be chewing on this for awhile.

  3. I just started my new calling as Gospel Doctrine instructor in my ward. And I’m scared of it! Reading your post made me think about how, for the moment, my main objective in teaching is “not to look so unbelievably stupid.” Intellectually, I know that if I could let go of that hang-up and just trust the Spirit to guide me I could be a much better teacher. My natural skills are clearly limited… but, I truly believe, with God’s help I could move beyond my natural skills and He could use me more effectively.

    Nevertheless, I am clinging, clinging, clinging.

    I’m pretty sure it’s going to take a really embarrassing (and public) tumble down the slide to get me to give it up. Why is it that I can see that outcome’s inevitability and still not change? Help!

  4. This has given me food for thought–thanks. There are a lot of things holding me back. If only we had the same perspective of ourselves as we have on our kids.

  5. Aw heck, she’s cuuuute.

    I love those insights that parenting gives you. What better way to understand how our Father feels about his children than to go through it all with our children here in mortality. Isn’t it a trip?

    Yes, I have those things I’m clinging to. Materialism, pride, cultural ingrainations, my own stubborn will. A lack of faith. There is always a mess of pottage you have to refuse before you can receive the blessings. Thanks for the writiing.

  6. I have just had my security blanket ripped to shreds… and it’s a lot more basic than I thought. I cling to the idea that I’m capable of handling my life and my goals pretty much by myself. And now, with a broken leg, I find that it’s not true. I need help. I’m not as capable as I thought. And I need to let people into my messy house to see all that.

    It will be good for me. But I’m still in the stage where I resist too much.

  7. Emily, can I come help? I broke my foot just as dh and I were hanging out. I don’t think I could’ve married him had I not lost some independence like that. Seriously, can I come sweep or wash some dishes or run an errand for you?

    I’m still thinking about this post. I like it. I think I just don’t want to look that closely at this right now. Hm!

  8. Thought-provoking post. Having chronic illness, I have had to come to grips with my need for external validation. My abilities to do as much as I used to have been affected significantly. I am in the process of learning to trust that I’m worth something simply because of my divine birthright.

    “I am not what I do.” That is what I have to repeat to myself often.

  9. Um…chocolate! And staying up too late at night to try to get that extra time to myself (which could be better spent unconscious).

    Working on those…

  10. Shelah– this is beautiful and so thought provoking that I’m not sure how to comment. My pride? My fear of failure? My deepest dread that maybe my security blanket is all I really have?

  11. Wow, Wendy, you are so kind! Thank you–my visiting teacher was here this morning, and she mopped and vacuumed and helped me get lunch on and put my son down for a nap. I was stressing about that last night, but it was okay. She’s a delightful person and it was good to get to know her better.

    My ward has people lined up to help me this week. We’re going to take it week by week and see what the needs our. Now that I’m not so drugged up on pain meds, I am feeling much happier about life.

  12. Love this. I actually have a post scheduled to be put up on http://www.womendoingmore.blogspot.com on Feb. 5th where I talk about needing to be more present with my kids. I would rather do my own thing, no wait–I tend to do my own thing rather than being present with my kids. I think I would prefer that I was the mom that would read to them more and spend less time on my own stuff…I just haven’t figured out how to do that very well yet. I probably need to let go of the selfishness and laziness. There are probably other things too that I’m still too blind to see.

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