Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Old Clothes

Our little house is bursting at the seams. It is a two bedroom bungalow (that is realtorese for tiny house) occupied by seven people. I have been vigilant to keep the clutter at bay but there is only so much I have been able to do. We have no dressers or drawers in our bedrooms. They are just rooms for beds. The girls keep their clothes in fabric storage baskets on the counter in the laundry room while Bryan and I use the bookshelf in our room in lieu of a dresser. It has been nine and a half years of reorganizing, reassessing, and rearranging. Still it is never enough. There is always too much stuff for our home.
Today I tacked our laundry room with vigor. I separated, washed and dried, folded and hung. I also rearranged and removed things I can do without. I tackled boxes and boxes of baby clothes. Having had three girls in a row, I accumulated quite a collection of seersucker dresses with matching bloomers, pink and yellow sleepers decorated with flowers, and lacy Sunday clothes. It has been five years since I had needed most of these adorable outfits but I was loathe to get rid of them. My mother had somehow managed to save baby clothes from my childhood, and even some from her own. My grandmother is the daughter of a seamstress so many of those clothes had been made by her. It was delightful to put my daughters in dresses that had been made by my grandmother for my mother and were worn in turn by me. I wanted to keep my daughters’ clothes too carry on this tradition. Unfortunately I felt encumbered by them, tied by the responsibility to preserve all these garments. Many of the clothes that were my mother’s have now fallen apart after having been won by all three of my daughters. A lot of the clothes that I was saving were not handmade heirlooms, but I was holding onto them to comfort myself. I wanted to look at them and remember when each of my daughters wore each of these outfits. I felt that by keeping the clothes I would be keeping the memories, holding onto those precious little girls.
When I looked through the boxes today, it was all a blur. I felt ashamed. I should remember each girl distinctly. Instead I had only vague recollections of seeing the articles before. Only a few had any distinct connection for me, but those clothes were stained and worn.
So I let them go. Sure I kept a few special items. And yes I have a few more boxes to go through. Yet I feel glad to be rid of them. I am so grateful that I still have all three of my girls this side of heaven and don’t need to hang on to their old garments. They are growing up. It is the person they are now that I know and adore. I know that I loved them from the minute I held them for the first time. I know I only love them more now. I will let go of hoping to remember details that are lost to me. Those moments were investments in our souls. I may not be able to recall those moments clearly, but hanging onto old clothes can never fix that loss for me.