My dear friend from college is having twin boys this fall. So I picked through the trash bags and plastic bins of outgrown baby clothes I've squirrelled away in our basement, finding every stitch of clothing that might be reasonably worn by boys.
It all fits in a large duffle bag, which will fly with us to Vermont tomorrow so I can hand deliver them to her in Western Massachusetts. This feels good and right. I can't wait to see her babies in these clothes.
Two other good friends had baby girls in the past year. Earlier in the week, I sent off a box to each of them, filled with gently used, and gently wept over, baby girl clothes.
But there's all this left.
I safely stashed a few dozen of my very favorite pieces of clothing in a bin aptly titled "sentimental baby clothes". It is close to breaking, as it is stuffed beyond reason.
I like to picture these clothes being worn by a granddaughter one day. I imagine my girls as adults, seeing these clothes, feeling them, knowing that I cherished them in these clothes so much that my love is embedded in every cotton fiber.
There's another stash of baby clothes that I can't seem to part with despite their noticeable stains and worn knees. I have set them aside with the idea of making the spit-up free stretches into quilts. (I honestly don't know how I feel about "baby clothes quilts". I can't imagine my kids really wanting to sleep under one past the age of ...8? So am I doomed to store them for even longer, because not only will I have saved the precious clothes but I'll have spent copious amounts of time and/or money making a quilt out of them?)
I know there are baby girls out there who could use these clothes, worn knees or not. I am researching which local charities are best suited to take them.
I just need to get past this stumbling block: getting rid of my girls' baby clothes feels like giving away tiny pieces of my love for them.
Of course, I know my love isn't so easily disposed of and I also know this isn't really about baby clothes. It's about saying goodbye to mothering babies.
These clothes, even the stained ones, even the ones that I didn't like much in the first place, immediately bring back the feeling of a little warm body nestled against me in a sling. Each cotton onesie reminds me of wrestling with snaps during diaper changes; I can almost feel the pudgy thighs that depressed like risen dough with the tip of a finger.
These memories come flooding back as I finger the cotton dresses of their babyhood and I want to grasp those moments closer, just one more time.
A friend once advised me to clean up puke by convincing myself that it was cat food. It's just cat food is the mantra I've said every time our girls have had a stomach bug. It helps me divorce myself from my present reality just enough to do what needs to be done.
I tried a similar mantra today, folding a onesie and putting it in a trash bag. This isn't my love. This isn't my girls. This isn't their babyhood.
It's just a little piece of cotton.