When Harvey was about a year old my mother gave me a velour one-piece track suit that she'd been saving from my younger brother. It was his FAVORITE outfit when he was a toddler, she told me. It was purple and blue and, did I mention? a VELOUR one-piece TRACK SUIT. It never really did fit Harvey but that was besides the point for me.
The point was: This??? This is the precious thing you have saved for over 20 years?
I am thinking about the meaning of STUFF right now, as I contemplate getting rid of some baby related things. These are things that have been both useful and precious to me. My maternity clothes (bar the jeans I am still wearing for the next month) are in bags ready to go to my pregnant friends. And I am in the process of bagging up the things that are too small for Elijah. These I have promised to give away too. I thought this would be a joyful process. My laundry room is so filled with boxes that I can barely move around in there. I am ITCHING to clean house and get more space to do laundry. And yet, and yet. For some reason I find that letting go is hard.
For starters these things are useful. I'm not 100% sure I'm done having babies. The percentage is small, the part of me that wants to try for a forth, but fertility is a long time and I'm still very young and there's comfort in having those huge boxes of clothes in the basement. The crate of maternity things, the bag of newborn items, they speak to me in a whisper that says, "You're ready. Whatever happens, Leah. You're ready for anything."
The truth is, though, I'm not really ready for anything. A forth baby would be a huge decision. Not only for my family and for my body, but logistically we don't really have a place for a forth child to SLEEP. I can't enter into that decision lightly. I can't to lull myself into a false sense of security just because I've got some sweaters, a few pairs of pants, and some newborn onesies packed in tubs I can see every time I do my laundry.
I have friends who are pregnant NOW, who need things to wear this minute, and that is more important than a hedge to my bets that is slowly turning into mouse bedding. (For those of you who don't have basement mice, I should explain that they sneak into sealed plastic tubs and rip up wool garments. Something something treasures in heaven) Plus, if I do get pregnant again, I'm sure there will be bags of clothing coming back in my direction. Shouldn't I expect to reap the generosity I sow? Or if worse comes to worse, there is always new clothing to be had out there in the world. There are Old Navy and Kohls and their online maternity shops, and for a couple hundred bucks I could have an entire new wardrobe of potential mouse bedding.
So yes, even if there's a chance I might need them again, giving things away is a practical idea. And yet, and yet. I gave away my most useful maternity sweater last night and it felt like a little piece of me was dying.
I have been wondering what I should save out of Elijah's newborn clothes. What is too absolutely precious that if it never makes it back to me in a box of hand-re-rounds I would mourn its loss? There is the white terry onesie with the duckies that all three children have worn. I would not even consider it if I saw it on the rack new in a store, but for some reason I cannot let it pass through my hands. I will put it in a box somewhere, along with the handmade sweaters and the Loved Baby hat, and if they don't come out for a mythical 4th child then I will pass them on to my first grand-baby. Then my future daughter-in-law will look at me, and she will look at the shitty terry onesie, and she will think: This??? This is your precious thing?
And I will say "We women, we don't make sense."
Better yet, let's give all of it away. I am tired of endless sorting in service of an unknown future. I am tired of guessing what provisions I might need, buying in bulk, worrying if I am now ready enough. I am tired of storing away products and plans for potential events, events for which I can never be actually prepared. I had a dream last night that friends came over for lunch and I used up my emergency freezer raviolis. Do you hear that people? I AM DREAMING ABOUT EMERGENCY FREEZER RAVIOLIS! How much power does my pre-pwork have over me that it is taking up the space reserved for the present?
So though it is hard, though it takes a little bit out of me each time, I am ready to give things away for now. I am ready to trust that the future will be okay, no matter what its material needs are. I am ready for more room to do laundry.