The piles were growing with each passing season, and I kept adding to them. As our youngest continued moving forward out of her babyhood, I started to wonder what I should do with all of this baby stuff.
When her first birthday passed, and the piles kept growing, so did my cluelessness.
What do I do with all of this stuff?
Who is going to want it?
Some of it is eight years old and has been used by four girls. Is it even valuable?
The much more challenging question to ask, and answer: Why am I hanging on to it? Is there some deeper meaning behind my hesitancy?
Exploring the Why
Our dream was to have four children. I have flashbacks to dates when we were engaged, talking about how four kids, each two years apart, sounded idyllic. And, by God’s provision, our dream was fulfilled. That’s not to say that we are permanently closed to growing our family, but it is not something that we are seeking out.
Since our ideal came true, it shouldn’t be a challenge to watch this chapter close. There is no more longing for positive pregnancy tests or picturing our big girls meeting their new sibling. As our children grow, our lives are moving definitively in the direction where our attention is focused on raising our girls, instead of continuing to grow our family.
As our youngest daughter approached her second birthday, I really couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to part ways with the nostalgic piles of baby stuff. It wasn’t a space issue; they were all piled in our basement storage space, far away from my eyes. Maybe it was guilt: either that I was keeping items from someone who could use them, or that, deep down, I really wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
One winter morning, it was clear. This was a heart issue; I needed to make space in my heart to welcome this new phase of motherhood. This chapter is filled to the brim with carpool lines, soccer games, and Harry Potter, but it is devoid of burp cloths, baby swings, and bottles. To make space in my heart to fully embrace this new chapter of parenthood, the baby stuff had to go.
As I surveyed the enormous piles, I realized I needed to group things: what to save, what to give away, and what to sell. What to give away was easy, as I advertised the baby stuff to friends welcoming new babies. What to sell became whatever our friends couldn’t use. And I saved only the family heirlooms for my sister, plus a box of our Beloved Grandma dresses and matching Hannah Anderson Christmas Pajamas that I am convinced my grandchildren will adore one day.
So, what’s my role here again?
So, now what? I’m faced with this question, just on the cusp of Mother’s Day, as the last baby items are waiting on my dining room table for our neighborhood yard sale. After talking with a treasured friend last week, we both agreed we were a little lost. After eight straight years of either gestating or lactating, my role in our family is now a little less clear. I felt a sudden pressure with this newfound freedom; it turned out not as intoxicating as I imagined.
After further reflection, my overall direction is obvious, but the path to get there will take some time to discover. The baby phase of my mothering, now that it has closed, takes up just a small chamber of my heart. Bidding farewell to the symbols of that phase doesn’t mean that I didn’t treasure the moments, or that I’m cold-hearted because I am not weeping in the corner. It just means that I’m making room in my heart for what comes next; the rest of the four precious lives I’ve been given the profound privilege to train, mold, and love.
As with any season, this window of influence will have an end. But in this moment, I will treasure the time I’ve been given with my girls, in the hopes of instilling the core beliefs we want them to have about the world. Today, instead of focusing all my energy on nourishing their bodies, I have the profound opportunity to nourish their spirits. Choices of which puree to eat for lunch have turned to discussions over what makes a good friend or why there are so many sick children in the hospital. My mental energy is now spent memorizing the rules to soccer instead of wading through newborn sleep schedules. And thank Heaven for that!
The joy that is ours in this new chapter has quickly replaced my puzzled expression with a smile.
And, not to mention, being Auntie is pretty awesome!