A Clothes Call

8.27.07: Hand-me-downs with heartstrings attached


I just gave away Julia's baby clothes.

It's sad. But, not as sad as I wanted it to be. I wanted to pore over all of the bins in our attic, lingering over each tiny outfit, letting the memories of that certain sundress or that soft pink sweater come slowly flooding back to me. I meant to sort everything into piles:

  • Things I think I could part with
  • Things I could maybe part with if we were definitely, 100%, absolutely sure we were done having babies
  • Things I think I could maybe part with, but I'm not totally sure yet, so I'll put them in this pile while I think about how I would feel if I parted with them
  • Things I could never part with

I meant to do all this. Instead, I stuffed all the clothes into trash bags and ran.

For months now, I've been planning to pack up some hand-me-downs to send to my sister-in-law, Debbie, who's expecting a baby girl in October. But, I never quite got around to doing it. And all week, with my siblings renting a local beach house, I planned to finally pack up the clothes and give them to my brother before he left town, but I had somehow procrastinated 'til the very last minute. So there I was, sweat pouring down my face in our steamy attic, frantically eyeing each piece while Charlie screamed from where I'd strapped him into his seat, as I hovered over the bags, hesitating, putting aside a few treasured pieces, then trying to form a mental image of my new niece in Julia's clothes as I threw the rest in the bags, chucked them in my car, and headed over to the beach house.

Mind you, my brother and Debbie had never even asked for the clothes. I just thought, since they were having a girl, and since we had all these baby girl clothes sitting in our attic collecting dust, why naturally it just made sense to...

...leave the clothes in my car when I got there, thinking that maybe I would try to steal a few minutes before my brother left to sort through them one last time, and that maybe I would write some inconspicuous little "RÂ’s" on all the labels, just in case we ever needed to get the clothes back. But, when my brother swept through the house to look for the last of his belongings, he said: "I grabbed the clothes from your car and put them in my trunk."

"Oh. Umm. OK," I stuttered, then proceeded to follow him nervously around the house, talking to his back as he gathered up his bags: "Umm... I meant to put "R's" on all the labels? But I ran out of time? So...I was thinking that maybe, umm...if we ever need the clothes back? When you're done with them? That umm...maybe...if it's not too annoying? Because I know it would be a total pain to have to keep track of them, or worry about staining them, or pack them all back up again, which is really more trouble that it's worth, I know... but..."

"Don't worry about it," my brother shrugged, "Debbie does all that." Minutes later, he was driving off. And I wanted to run after him shouting: "Wait! Wait! I wasn't ready!"

It's like when we were kids, on vacation at the beach, and I would be inching my way into the ocean one pinky toe at a time, retreating every time a cold wave threatened to touch my warm abdomen, only to have my brother tackle me and drag me face-first into the cold water. Here was my brother, without even realizing it, dunking me in the drink. Ripping off the Band-Aid that I had been slowly pulling away from my skin.

I know it's better this way. Now that I'm swimming around in the water, doing the backstroke, wondering why I hadn't jumped in sooner, I can see that. I feel a little silly now. I felt even sillier when Debbie e-mailed me to thank me for the clothes a few days later, and casually mentioned that she had already put "R's" on all the tags.

Still, maybe I was a little relieved to know that someday, maybe, if we were to have another baby, and if that baby just happened to be a girl, and if we needed them, that maybe we could get Julia's baby clothes back.

If we were still kids, my brother might call me an Indian giver. But, of course, we're all adults here.

(Now if I could just bring myself to face the clothes Charlie's outgrown.)

Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 9.3.07: Home Alone