Are you still holding on to baby stuff?Jessica Ashley
Dozens of plastic tubs filled with baby clothes and wedding china and graduate school textbooks fill each of the three rooms. It’s my dirty, not-so-little single mama secret that I’ve only revealed to a few people.
I can rationalize it — I took possession (per a legal division of assets) of nearly everything in my overrun marital apartment. It wasn’t the best of times, and beyond that, I felt intense responsibility for handling all of the business of closing up the life that took place in those four walls. I thought it was important to save mementos for my son. I thought I might one day need an ice-cream maker. I wanted to believe I would have another baby. So all of it came with me, and was tucked (and stacked and shoved) into the basement.
Several times a week when I am down there doing laundry, I strategize how to clean out that old life. A few times a year, I take a huge purge pile of old clothes and books and broken picture frames to a donation box. When a friend gets engaged, I joke that she can register in my basement, or just help herself to incomplete sets of crystal champagne flutes. And often, I think about where to begin in freeing all of the boxes in that dungeon.
I have moved on in a thousand healthy, happy ways. But something has kept me stuck. Or rather, has me stuck to the stuff. I have dealt with this past in court, in counseling, in relationships, internally. I just do not want to deal with it anymore. So obviously, I resist.
The corner that is full of the most conflict and emotion is the one that houses every single baby item Lil E has ever worn. Every onesie, each itty-bitty pair of undies, every old winter coat — everything from size NB to 7 is down there.
My rational mind says to release it, to donate it to needy families, to offer it up to outfit a friend’s child for the first six or seven years of his life. But my heart clings to the idea that maybe, possibly, hopefully, one day I will need it all again.
There is much more therapy on my calendar, clearly. There is a Costco-sized box of extra-large sized garbage bags to fill and unload.
Upstairs, in the safety and relative calm of my apartment, I opened a drawer the other night where we keep Lil E’s mealtime things at his reach. Inside the drawer is a puzzle of light-up mugs and IKEA bowls and water bottles. There is also a stash of sippy cups and a container of valves.
Those sippy cups which, admittedly we have relied upon for nighttime drinks since my son transitioned from waking to nurse to waking to guzzle water, have served a good purpose. But now he is eight and a water bottle at the ready on the night stand will certainly suffice. It’s time to let go of the sippy cups.
I pulled them all out of the drawer and put them a Ziploc to prep them for donation.
“Hey, I am getting rid of the sippy cups,” I called out to Lil E as he passed by.
“Great,” he said, not caring a lick. “Why don’t you just recycle them?”
Yeah, I thought. Why don’t I? Why do I make this junk so hard?
No one will miss the sippy cups, making this the polar opposite of my experience in offing the pacifier and bottles — all of which are probably tucked in a tub in the….yeah, you guessed it.
Speaking of the basement, it’s time to really dig in down there, I know.
Could this sippy-cup recycling be the baby step I need? Or will it take a much bigger push to get me down those stairs? I’m not sure. Yet.
Join the circle of parental hoarding support: Beyond heirlooms and milestone-markers, what baby stuff are you hanging on to?
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.
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