Some days comfort can be found in the most unlikely places, a well-worn pair of jeans, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, a glass of wine, comfy pajamas at the end of a trying day. For my mom, it was an ugly green sweater that she donned each evening without fail before settling on the couch after a busy day of playing taxi driver, chef, and everything in between. If I close my eyes, I can see her sitting on the brown velour seventies couch in our living room wrapped in that ugly green sweater, relaxing with each passing minute as though cocooned in a blissful state of peace.
My dad worked the night shift and only saw her in that ugly green sweater on the weekends, but he made up for all the days he missed by giving her a hard time about the sweater which he believed was more suited for an eighty year old grandmother than his thirty-something young bride and active mom of three children. As my siblings and I got older we joined in the friendly ribbing of the ugly green sweater, coming up with a slew of creative names for it. Not surprisingly, no amount of mocking stopped my mom from slipping into that ugly green sweater and the comfort it promised night after night.
I recall a particular school day when a fellow classmate took it upon himself to tell me Santa wasn’t real. I rushed home to confront my mom, only to have her gently confirm what he had told me. Devastated, I threw myself on the living room couch burying my head in the cushions. Through the tears I saw a bit of green fabric peeking out from under the cushions and didn’t think twice about pulling that ugly green sweater and wrapping myself in it, desperately seeking the comfort it so often provided my own mother. Within minutes I was fast asleep on the couch, and woke up with a sense of peace and acceptance that I choose to attribute to the ugly green sweater and not the exhaustion we are left with after a crying jag.
Through the years, there have been moments when I wish I had that ugly green sweater within reach. Moments when a diagnosis of cancer shattered our world, moments when the bank funds were low, moments when a son’s mental illness turned him into a stranger, moments of unemployment. In each of these moments, I don’t wish I had that ugly green sweater for myself. Instead, I wish I had it to wrap my mom in once again in hopes that it would bring her the same peace it brought her night after night so many years ago. To this day, with so many miles between us, all I need is to detect a hint of sadness in her voice no matter how hard she tries to hide it, and I find myself selfishly wishing that ugly green sweater was still with her.
Is there an “ugly green sweater” in your life? If so, can I have it?
This post was originally featured on Leah’s blog, Little Miss Wordy.