In May I undertook a massive decluttering project at my house. I got rid of a little bit of stuff each day, and it was pretty easy at first. Fancy cosmetics I bought for my wedding … 10 years ago? Toss. No regrets. Electric bills from 13 years and four residences ago? I actually broke my shredder getting rid of those and similar junk in my file cabinet. No regrets.
But, wouldn’t ya know, it got a little harder when I started in on my daughter’s stuff. OK, yes, she’s outgrown an entire drawerful of clothes from last year. But she wore that dress to her first trip to the ballet! And those are the shoes she wore as my friend’s flower girl! And those pajamas are just stinkin’ cute! I can’t possibly get rid of that stuff! (Don’t worry; I did. Most of it, anyway.)
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My husband and I also ventured into the attic and brought down some baby gear. A swing, the exersaucer, her first tricycle. She’s done with all that, no doubt about it. Nora, in fact, handled getting rid of that stuff just fine. She was curious about it, when she saw it sitting in the garage. She had no memory, of course, of the swing or exersaucer, but she upgraded from the tricycle only a few months ago, so I worried how she’d handle the prospect of saying goodbye to that, beloved new big-girl bike or no.
I explained to her today, as I was cleaning up her tricycle in preparation for donating it, that I wanted to give it to someone who could use it. She seemed to understand the concept, so I asked if that was OK with her. She gave it some thought, said “sure!” and then sped off on her big-girl bike. So much for sentimentality.
And I’ll feel good, too, both getting that clutter out of my house and passing it along to be used and loved again. But I admit to some pangs. She was so excited to get that tricycle, to pedal along on her own and zoom way out in front of mom and dad — oh, sweet freedom! — at the park. And lord, the happy hours she spent even earlier in her life in that exersaucer, then the swing. I explained to Nora that she used that stuff before she was big enough to walk, or even sit up on her own. THAT concept she could not wrap her head around.
Of course, giving away baby stuff doesn’t mean you’re giving away those memories. The hope is you’re giving someone else a chance to make good memories of their own, which is a wonderful thing. But it’s emotional to shed that stuff. It means, for one thing, no more babies. Which is a decision we made quite firmly not long after Nora’s rocky entrance and that we still feel good about now. It also is a loud-and-clear reminder, as if anyone needs one, that childhood flies by quickly, and your kid is bigger and older every time you look at her. Does that effect accelerate when she goes from a tricycle to a big-girl bike? Sure seems that way. Sigh.