In general I’ve felt less of the push and pull with Delaney than I did – and have – felt with Madeline. The push for time to pass, for things to change, for my little one to be just a little bit bigger so we could move past whatever parenting obstacle we we currently frustrated by. The pull to go back to times we’d already passed through. Madeline, as my oldest child, has had to deal with a mother who can’t seem to figure out if I want her to move forward or “oh my god please just stop growing, right this minute, because I need you to be a little baby girl foreverrrrrrrr!” I so wanted Madeline potty trained. I missed cloth having cloth diapers around. I wished she’d learn to read so my aching knees would get a break from hours sitting on the floor reading to her with her perched in my lap, but when she started reading (and reading, and reading, and reading) and I missed having her curled up on my lap all the time. It didn’t really matter that her tall slender body doesn’t quite fold onto my lap all that well anymore.
Delaney has somehow managed to escape this emotional back and forth from her mom. Until recently at least. I’ve managed to live in whatever moment or phase and just be there with her. It may have to do with her being my second child and me having a slightly better handle on how this parenting thing goes. You know, you have a baby that baby grows, and grows, and grows, and there is nothing you can do to stop or delay or pause things at any moment. Things just keep rolling so you better engage with it and not miss it. It may also have something to do with having two kids and not really having time to think about the past or the future too much. It’s all just getting through the present and keeping everyone and hopefully everything in one mostly functioning piece.
Recently though, Luke and I spent a significant amount of time lightening out load and organizing out surroundings. In other words we did a big post holiday purge. For the most part, I have no qualms letting go of things. I can logically look at a thing and evaluate its necessity. I can roll through my closet, children’s toys, and even the kitchen cabinets and quickly decipher what’s needed and what is not. Then I made the announcement I would finally go through Delaney’s closet and that is when those old push and pull feelings crept back in. Delaney’s closet had become the storing ground all all the clothes she’d ever worn. All the little onsies and dresses. Every little sock and fuzzy footed pajama. Two and a half years worth of fabric. Or at least someone else might have seen it as just fabric. I saw it as two and a half years of my baby – likely my last baby – mixed in with more like three years of memories from my first baby. (Delaney is a bigger girl than Madeline and has worked through her hand-me-downs faster than her age would suggest).
As I pulled each item from each clear plastic bin, I could see the size and the color, and even the shape each piece was in. I could place things in piles to be donated, or handed down to my niece. I tried to be objective. I tried to see these pieces of fabric as just pieces of fabric that some other little sweet girl could benefit from, but they were’t just pieces of fabric. They aren’t just pieces of fabric. They are the white and yellow striped terry cloth pajamas with a duck on the front. Madeline stole ornaments off the tree in them. Delaney wore herself trying to keep with with her sister in them. They are the navy blue polka-dot hat Delaney received for her first birthday and obsessively wore for quite sometime after. They’re the white eyelet dress I bought for Maddy while pregnant with her that Delaney also wore.
They aren’t just pieces of fabric. They’re memories. I smiled a lot, and cried a bit, while going through every last thing and I wished just a bit to slow time down, to rewind. I know I can’t relive those moments, and time keeps marching no matter how hard you want to pull back. Delaney now has a usable closet, there is room in it now that I’ve finally let myself let go of pieces from her past to make room for her present. I know that the love and memories don’t live in those tiny clothes -they live in me – but it was still hard to let them go.