We are currently in that strange limbo-land of moving away from baby paraphernalia and moving toward a life of more big-kid stuff. It's an inevitable transition, but that doesn't make it any easier for me. Brett has been very patient and allowed me to continue to store much of our baby gear (thank goodness for our attic!) but it is becoming more and more obvious to me that I can't hold on to this stuff forever! When we had baby Lydia, I went through all the boy clothes and with a good amount of tears managed to whittle the 9 boxes down to just a few sentimental outfits to hang on to. The true blessing came over the next few weeks as friends came by to "shop" our boy boutique ... it was wonderful to pass on our abundance of clothing, knowing that they were all going to be enjoyed by some other little rumble, tumble tyke.
We have done the same with the baby girl clothes Lydia has grown out of ... but lately it has become more pressing to pass on more of the big "stuff" and that strikes me right in my mommy-heart. There are a few items that I will probably never be able to let go of: the crib (all my babies slept there), the jungle-gym mat (way too many memories) and a few of the kids' favorite baby toys (my grandbabies will need toys when they visit, right?). But that leaves a lot of items that need new homes.
Over the past several weeks, I have been able to see a few needs and feel in my heart that I can part with some of this "stuff" knowing it is helping someone else out. We purged the baby rattles and toys a few weeks ago and while it was weird bagging up those memories, it was liberating to clear out some baskets and boxes ... again, knowing some little sweetie would be enjoying these goodies. A few weeks ago we pulled the changing table out of the bathroom and cleaned out the drawers of all the baby supplies and moved the desk to the basement. Now we have just a small changing station in the baby girls' room and we can see the end to this age of diapers. (Now that does get me excited ... but it's still a little bitter-sweet.) We recently gave our stroller and car-seat to a baby boy and his teen-mom. That felt good knowing this little guy was going to be safe and comfy. And in spite of giving away a lot of stuff ... there is still more to let go of.
Some of you may not have felt this need to hold on to the baby years ... maybe you are just thrilled you survived :) and you are more than ready to move on! But for those of you who are like me, sobbing through the end of Toy Story 3 (darn you Pixar! for preying on every one of my mommy-insecurities!) and clinging to these baby "things" ... let me share a few things that have helped me.
- I have found that if I keep a few items from each kid - something that will capture their growing personality or freeze-frame a particular moment time - I don't feel as bad. I have a bin in the attic with these mementos and I am happy to know that a few little items are safe and sound.
- I take lots of pictures and that is a great way for me to see our kids enjoying or even wearing those items I have to let go of.
- Instead of just sending items to Goodwill (which is a great place to donate), I try to find out specific needs in my circle of friends - it's nice knowing who gets the double blessing of our clothes and gear ... and sometimes I get the joy of seeing some outfits being worn again!
- I am not rushing to toss out the baby stuff ... I think that it is important to let myself grieve the end of my child-bearing season, knowing that my child-rearing season is still in full swing. By allowing this process of letting go set it's own course, I feel that I can fully embrace and be enthusiastic about this season of training up big kids! It's a new season with it's own mementos I'm sure I will want to keep forever! :)
Tonight as we put the kids to bed, I watched them each snuggle in with their own favorite "lovies". Aaron had his beloved purple and turquoise pterodactyl and his tie-dye t-shirt pillow in bed with him. Norah had her favorite, floppy, flowered pillow that she likes to wrap her fingers up in. Ashley had her favorite purple quilt made by my sweet friend, Kim. She loves to run her fingers across the satin edge as she falls asleep. Lydia was snuggled up on her zebra pillowcase from Auntie Allie and was clutching her little blue pillow with the white sheep (made by Cousin Rebekah), her Eeyore blanket from her friend Taylor and her "boppie" which was a baby blanket we wrapped her in when she was a wee-one. Ooooh, boy! (sniff, sniff...) I think it will be a loooong while before I'm able to part with any of those :).
Of course, Brett tells me I'll always have a little kid in him to take care of :) ... and he has lots of toys!