Why I Can’t Say Goodbye To That Last Box Of Baby Clothes

by Bethany Neumeyer
Bethany is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom who is currently using her writing degree to answer the question, why.

Before my husband and I even got married, we both agreed that we wanted to have two children. So I knew that my daughter would be my last child from the moment I found out I was pregnant with her, and in the two and a half years since her birth, I have never regretted or wavered in our decision.

As my daughter passed each milestone, I never once thought “Maybe we should have another baby.” The last first birthday, the last time I nursed my child – these moments hardly phased me.

But, a few weeks ago, I realized that the high chair hadn’t been used in at least a month, probably more. My oldest – who is now five – used it for more than two years before graduating to a grown-up chair so that his sister could sit in the high chair. She used it for years as well, but lately she’s been wanting to sit in a big chair like everyone else. And suddenly, this piece of furniture that was vital in our home for nearly five years was just taking up valuable real estate in the kitchen.

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So I passed the high chair along to a new mom-to-be along with some other things that I will never again need: my nursing pillow and nursing cover, maternity clothes, and a book of baby names. And now there is a void in the kitchen, a glaring blank space in a spot that hasn’t been empty for years.

The baby swing, the infant car seat, the newborn cradle, the activity mat, the diaper pail: they’re all gone, donated or passed on to friends who could use them or thrown away.

To be honest, I’ve gotten rid of most of them quite gleefully, glad to make more room in the house (room that is of course immediately filled by more of my kids’ stuff).

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It’s almost time to move my youngest out of the crib and into a twin-sized bed. A few days ago, we went to a furniture store to look at bedroom sets, and I realized that the crib is one of the last remaining vestiges of our baby years. Once the crib and the diapers are gone (assuming potty training ever works out, which looks somewhat doubtful at the moment,) I will permanently and undeniably no longer have any babies under my roof.

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Last week, I sorted through a box of forgotten toys to get rid of some of the things that the kids no longer play with, and I found a little stuffed toy with a bell inside. It’s a baby toy and we’ve had it since my oldest was a baby, and now it is no longer needed.

Still, somehow I couldn’t quite get rid of it. It was a gift, and I can remember the exact moment, the exact look on my son’s face when he first held it at eight months old. And I’m just not ready to let it go.

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In an upstairs closet are two boxes filled with baby clothes. Though I’ve given most of the baby clothes away, there are two small boxes – one for each child – that I can’t bear to part with. I’m hoping to have them made into a quilt someday, but for now they sit in empty diaper boxes.

“My First Christmas” onesies, favorite jammies, the clothes they each wore home from the hospital: We don’t need them anymore, and the plan is to never need them again, but I’m keeping them, along with two tiny newborn-sized diapers and a few pairs of impossibly tiny socks, just because.

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I am not sad that my daughter is my last baby. Our family feels complete to me. There are things about the baby stage that I do not and will not mis for sure: sleepless nights and spit-up, postpartum recovery and diaper blowouts, just to name a few. But I was surprised to find that getting rid of the last of our baby items for the last time has brought with it some feelings of sadness.

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The empty space in the middle of my kitchen keeps reminding me that I am no longer the mother of a baby. That the days that seem to crawl by so slowly have turned into years and that the baby phase of my parenting life has passed.

And so I will keep the tiny socks, the jingly toy, the newborn onesies as sweet little reminders of the babies I no longer have.

For more from Bethany Neumeyer visit her blog, I Was Promised More NapsFacebook and Instagram.