There’s this little part of parenthood you don’t think about when you’re pregnant. And the first time you experience it is when your baby is about four months old. Suddenly the 0-3 month clothing is too tight, and you find yourself with a bin of onesies and zip-up PJs. You stick them in the closet and save them for the next baby, or, if it’s your last, you don’t think about the bin until you need to fill it again with the six-month clothing.
This cycle continues to happen, and the bins begin to multiply. You swoon over the tiny little tutus or polos and neatly fold them and place them into the bin. Eventually, the bins spill out of the closet and stack up in the basement or attic. At this point, it’s time to face the inevitable and give them away.
For me, the process is quick. I can’t sit and think too long because I am too indecisive. I have to rip the band-aid off and get those bins out of my house before I regret it. I always save a few of my favorite pieces, but 99% of it gets passed on to my best girlfriends for their little girls.
The clothes, shoes, and toys have been packed up and passed on for years. But there are a few bins sitting in my basement that are collecting dust. When I run down into the basement to grab another roll of paper towels, I glance over at the bins and quickly run back up the stairs.
It’s because those bins are filled with the tiniest treasures that hold so many of the sweetest memories. The books. The little books with hard covers, dented corners, and faded words. The little books we read night after night until tiny toddlers were sleepy. Those little books mean nothing to most people, but they mean so much to me.
No one else knows how my youngest would read the same five books every night for over a year. She would stack them up in a particular order, and if you tried to read them out of order, she scolded you. No one else knows that my oldest likes it when you read the Pout-Pout Fish with a pouty face or that she likes to read Llama Llama after Brown Bear, Brown Bear.
These nights of repetitive reading sometimes felt endless and frustrating, but when I look back, I regret every time I sighed with exhaustion when their little voice said, “Just one more, Mama?”
Nothing tears me apart inside the way that donating the books do. I can give away anything, but the books have some hold on me like nothing else. I’m a sensitive and nostalgic person, and I keep pictures and anything sentimental in my life. Unfortunately, I can’t keep dozens of books.
But when I see my friend’s daughters holding the tattered copy of You Are My Sunshine, my heart will skip a beat and bring me back to those tired nights on the bed, just me and my girls.
A tear rolled down my cheek as I packed up some bags full of books for my girlfriends today. I’m not an easy crier; in fact, I rarely cry these days. But something about giving these books away made my children’s toddlerhood feel complete, over, done. It made me feel like days I couldn’t wait to be over would be back so we could do it all over again.