Goodbye to babies

Sara Beth Wald

I often claim that I’m not sentimental. And I’m not, except when I am.
Each time my older son outgrows his clothes, I go through his closet and carefully wash and fold everything, then pack it up into a large plastic bin in the basement.
When one container is full, I buy a new one and the old one goes into storage.
When my younger son was born, we reaped the benefits of my hyper-organization. It’s impossible to estimate exactly how much money we’ve saved on clothes in the last three years.
Small children rarely wear out their clothes before they outgrow them, so many of the clothes passed down from older to young brother were almost brand new.
My husband and I made the decision several years ago that we were done having children. Our two boys have made our lives complete, and we are content.
Still, out of force of habit, when my younger son outgrew his clothes I washed everything up and repacked the items into their respective bin.
For several years now my husband has been gently suggesting I get rid of the tiniest clothes, to reuse the container rather than buy a new one every time our older son hits a growth spurt.
And for several years I smiled, nodded and then dismissed the thought.
I had a lot of excuses. I’m too busy. Someone might want to barrow the clothes. I have a headache.
But a few weeks ago, as my husband was helping me tape the lid down on another packed plastic tub of our older son’s too-small clothes, when he said, “We really don’t need another clothes bin,” I sighed and responded, “I know.”
I got a big black garbage bag and went to work.
I took a businesslike approach. I tried not to look at the items as I tossed tiny blue rompers and onesies into the depths of the dark bag.
But now and then, a shirt with a dump truck caught my eye, or a particular pattern of stripe that immediately invoked memories of snuggles or holidays or giggles.
I started a small stack of items to keep.
I was so focused on my task that I didn’t even notice when the “keep” pile overturned.
When I’d emptied two bins of baby and toddler clothes I stood up to survey my work, thinking I’d completed my task.
I caught my breath when I saw that nearly an entire bin’s worth was piled next to the bag.
And these weren’t just clothes. They were my babies’ clothes – all their favorite jammies, sweatshirts and tiny shoes.
I’m not going to lie. It hurt. There was physical pain in my chest.
I’m so pleased that my boys are growing up strong and happy. That is the goal.
But dang! They were little and now they are not.
I knew that I couldn’t save them all. I created criteria for myself. If both boys loved it, I could save it. If I could remember specific instances when we made special memories in the item, I could save it.
I ended up with two garbage bags full. I donated them to an organization run by a friend, so that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if I cried a little when I dropped them off.
They went to raise money for a good cause, and they will be loved and appreciated by a new family now.
And I officially said goodbye to babies.

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