Blink. Gone.

Last week I spent many late-night hours sorting through outgrown baby clothes and paraphernalia to sell at a local children's resale event.  Each item of clothing was sorted and hung (hangers facing left).  Each printed price tag was safety-pinned in the upper right corner (pins inserted right to left, fingers pricked on multiple occasions).

The bins of baby girl clothing that I had packed and repacked these last few years as my daughters have grown were emptied for the final time.  A tottering stack was piled on the bed, ready to leave our house for good.

Although I wrote this post a month ago, I found my heart sink in my chest as I drove to drop off my items.  When I arrived, smarter women than I were transporting their items easily in laundry baskets or cleverly wheeling them on strollers.  I carried brimming arm fulls, hugging them close to my chest.  With each trip back to the car I reconsidered entering the sale in the first place.

Especially when I saw a volunteer take a stack of my clothes and hang them up on the racks.

Suddenly, this little blue dress -- the blue dress that a dear friend of mine whom I've known since nursery school gave to my firstborn daughter, the blue dress that she wore when she met Joel's grandfather and fell asleep in the crook of his arm -- was on a sales rack.

The yellow outfit that my second daughter wore in her surrender sleep,

and the lavender onesie that my littlest daughter wore as she lay on her tummy, her bottom tipped upward toward the sky, were now dangling on cheap plastic hangers.

As my eyes locked onto that sale rack, I -- a woman who organizes with abandon, a woman who detests clutter, a woman who constantly sorts and repurposes unnecessary things, a woman who wants to minimize, minimize, minimize -- suddenly understood hoarders.

Hoarders can't separate the memories from the objects.  To keep the memories, they hold onto the objects.

For one moment, I thought I'd grab the items off the rack and bring them back home, but I left the rack and walked away.  And blink, just like that, my children's baby clothes were gone.

In a week or so, they'll be replaced with a check indicating my sale tallies.  Some other mother will dress her little baby girl in the clothes, creating an entirely new set of memories, which I pray are just as wonderful as mine have been.

But this one piece,

this newborn pink sleeper that already seems so small, will be tucked away in one of my drawers.

I had to keep just one thing.

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  1. Oh you made me cry - I am going this same process as you - only I am just now learning to simplify and get organized, which in turn means letting go of my babies clothes. . . .glad I am not the only one who saves one thing and cries for the rest.

  2. This is such a beautiful post! There are simply no other words to describe it...just beautiful.

  3. I enjoy reading your posts, although have never introduced myself! This post made me smile, mostly the picture of Russell holding your daughter, he was a very special man in my church growing up and I still think of him often! I too have been through the same events and have felt the pain of the clothes being ripped from my fingers...or so I thought at the time! Your daughters are beautiful and I'm constantly reminded of my age as I see the wife of Joel...whom I remember as an ohhh, maybe 10 year old little boy, speaking of his children!!

  4. Thinking I would probably never have another child, I allowed myself to keep one clear plastic cube of my son's clothes. 9 years later, the older of his two sisters was born. I have enjoyed dressing her in some of his old clothes. I know I will repack them in the same cube and allow myself a cube for each girl, too. Great post!

  5. I saved a few cherished items as well. The pose you call 'surrender' we called "Super Baby!" Love your post!

  6. I cried reading this! They grow so fast. I was just going through my boys' clothes the other day and it was so emotional!

  7. jacobsmommyJuly 28, 2011

    I, too, am going through this process...however, my feelings of wanting to declutter in a positive way are overpowered with my longing for another chld. When my son starting growing out of his clothes, month by month, size by size, I neatly packed every item away in bins labeled as the hopes that one day I would be unpacking them to use again. My son just turned five...when is it time to let go of all those precious premie outfits that my son wore for the first months of his life, as well as each size thereafter? The memories are so strong and yet...

  8. BEAUTIFUL POST! I found myself in a similar situation recently, getting all sad and nostalgic when i started sorting through all the baby clothes that I planned on giving away... it brought up such strong feelings for wanting another child... and here I was convinced that I'm done having kids, my son will be a year in 2 weeks, and my daughter will be 3 shortly after... time flies so quickly, u miss having them in those cute onesies, and the clothing seems to be a reminder of that time, i kept a few pieces too that I just couldn't see myself parting from! ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  9. What a gorgeous story and beautifully told.


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