Herewith is one of my most secret confessions: I so dislike sorting clothing from season to season for my children that I simply try to avoid doing it for as long as possible. This means the 7-year-old is bound to have a 5T tee shirt in the bottom of her drawer. I just cram the clothes in until the drawers finally threaten to go on strike.
I don’t want to remove too short shorts and the stained skirts because that would mean a trip to the basement corner where we store the girls’ clothes in plastic tubs. And that basement corner, friends, is the Place of Memories.
If I open a tub and gently fold in a stack of dresses and tees, that means I have to pull out a larger size for the same child. The too-small clothes, now being saved for another girl, remind me that the first child won’t pass this way again.
This clothes sorting crushes me. I get emotional, folding polka-dotted Hanna Anderssons and faded Circo skirts. I think to myself, like every parent who ever lived, “Where did the time go?”
I know parenting by this point: its exhaustion, its ecstatic rewards. But putting away the soft, velvet dress your four-year-old wore at the Christmas Eve service where your family, along with your brother and his family, took up an entire pew? The night that was perfect and ended with the traditional singing of “Silent Night” and your four-year-old trembled as she held her first, “real fire” candle? How do you ever fold and store such a dress?
It’s hard, this sorting.
So it was with some trepidation that I gathered our baby clothes, sizes 12 months and under, this week. We are done (unless God has other plans!) with having sweet babes. So, with a steely determination, I set up to sort and stack and fold the baby clothes. They would be off to another home, a young woman who is having her first baby and isn’t starting out with much.
As I filled the box with tiny, precious threads, the memories poured over me, sweet and gentle; lovely and humbling. I have been blessed to have held these babies, small and tiny. And as I worked, the emotions threatened to derail the offering I was trying to assemble. I blinked back tears and thought of new life.
A new girl is to be born, perhaps her mother labors strong to bring her as I write this. And she, too, will outgrow these pretty clothes one day.
And that’s how I boxed up, cleaned up, and then restocked my youngest girl’s wardrobe with her newest season of hand-me-down dresses, shorts and tees: by thinking past my babies to the baby that is to come. May she have a wonderful life, full of wonder, joy and love.