14 Apr

Before we leave in November, we are having a huge clear out of our stuff.  Partly this is to make it easier to rent our house and put our belongings in storage.  But it is also because despite professing to not value material things, our really quite big house is bursting at the seams.

One of the hardest cupboards to clear out has been Eve’s wardrobe.  I always knew I’d have a little girl and I always knew I would love dressing her.  And I do, I love buying her clothes, and she has some beautiful dresses.  Not mini adult dresses, proper little girl dresses.  Dresses that I imagined I might pass on to her daughters, like my mother has done for me.  And one or two will maybe become family heirlooms, but most of them are ordinary clothes.  Keeping them for sentimental reasons is going to lead to our house ending up on a TV programme involving pest controllers in contamination suits.  So clear out we must.

Every year she grows like a sunflower, shooting up towards the sky and adulthood.  And I can barely remember the little person who filled the dresses with her exuberant, wriggly, little body with the fat bracelets on her wrists, round toddler tummy, and pudgy feet with sausage toes.  The dresses have become turned over corners in the book of her life, reminders of the tiny person she once was and the places we played.

Each dress brings back a different memory.  The red needcord dress with big bright pink spots that she wore on her first birthday.  The elasticated cap sleeves used to leave a mark on her squidgy upper arms and her nappied bottom would poke in the air when she ‘goed upside down’.

The pale pink silk sundress with the stripy ribbon sash, that she wore the day we moved into our house.  Hours spent exploring our very own garden and  climbing in enticing empty boxes bigger than her.

The pale blue dress with the smocked sail boats that she wore on her second birthday, playing ring-a-roses with her little friends in our sitting room.  Cheeks red from exertion and excitement, dress smeared with chocolate icing.

I keep telling myself that they’re only clothes, that it’s not important, but giving them away is hard.  Giving them away means she’s growing up. Giving them away means I’ll never have a baby again.  Those neverending years of sleepless nights, leaky breasts and constant watchfulness have gone.  They’ve gone and I don’t know how it happened.  I swear I only looked away for a minute.

For this week’s writing workshop, Josie asked us to “clear out a cupboard you’ve not visited in years”.


21 Responses to “Dresses”

  1. newdaynewlesson 14/04/2010 at 8:11 pm #

    Keep the really sentimental ones. I know my daughter is wearing things I wore (I am 40, she is 3 and the clothing has gone through at least 2 siblings of mine and a few cousins)

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 14/04/2010 at 9:16 pm #

      My daughter has also worn some of my dresses that my mother kept. I would absolutely never get rid of those. The ones I’m talking about are the ordinary everyday ones that don’t really merit keeping. They’ve been passed on to my niece and her other cousins, so they are having a new life, but I won’t get them back.

  2. Marisa Harrison 14/04/2010 at 8:20 pm #

    You must keep them. My 2 year old wears the dresses my mother made me 33 years ago, good old fashioned smocking and all! And it brings about a strange overwhelming feeling of nostalgia & joy and squidyness all in one when I put one on her & I love it!”

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 14/04/2010 at 9:18 pm #

      I have kept a few smocked ones that my mother gave her, but I can’t keep everything she’s ever worn. We have a smocked romper that was made for my father out of pale blue parachute silk shortly after the second world war. My boys both wore it for their Christenings.

      • Marisa Harrison 15/04/2010 at 9:45 am #

        No – you can’t keep everything! Our garage is begining to be overtaken by boxes with childrens stuff in despite passing it on to numerous friends “please pass it on or give it it charity” it seems to come back! I have sentimental days and ruthless days but the fomer seem to be taking over as they grow up. The pale blue romper sounds fantastic!

        • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/04/2010 at 1:36 pm #

          I’ve given most of it to my sister in law, with strict instructions to not give it back.

  3. TheMadHouse 14/04/2010 at 8:36 pm #

    I will never have a girl, but i would be the same as you I think!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 14/04/2010 at 9:19 pm #

      There’s something about little clothes isn’t there? They are just so damn cute.

  4. Kelly 14/04/2010 at 8:50 pm #

    It must be hard to clear out things like that. Luckily we are in the stage where we are keeping everything for the possibility of a second baby, so I have a reprieve for now.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 14/04/2010 at 9:19 pm #

      I still have our sleepi cot. Don’t know what to do about that. I REALLY don’t want to give it away.

  5. Paula 14/04/2010 at 9:32 pm #

    I felt like this with my eldest, he’s a boy but he had so many great clothes (we could afford them then). I still have a Gap duffel coat, age 12-18mo that I just can’t bear to part with, and a few of his first sleepsuits, but most of the rest has been passed on and recycled. The girls have a hotch potch of clothes and share loads as they are more or less the same size. Closing that door is really hard, I’m still struggling… x

  6. Trish@ Mum's Gone to 15/04/2010 at 9:08 am #

    Beautifully written post. You’re right about the wonderful memories our children’s clothes can evoke. Glad you’re keeping the special ones. All my son’s cast-offs (bar the ones I’ve decided to keep) go to my godson: it’s lovely every year to see a mini-Rory running around in them.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/04/2010 at 2:07 pm #

      I have a two year old niece, which is lovely, so they’re having a good second life. Eve actually enjoys giving her things to her cousin, sometimes I have to restrain her. I didn’t think my SIL would thank me for the Little Mermain swimming costume which won’t fit her for 5 years, that one went to the charity shop.

  7. Deer baby 15/04/2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Beautiful post. My sentiments too. I have just been sorting out stuff this morning – dividing into stuff for charity, stuff to give to niece and stuff I can’t bear to part with. So many memories.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 15/04/2010 at 2:05 pm #

      I know this sounds a bit weird, but I found the process almost like a bereavement. I know she’s still hale and hearty and causing havoc in the room next door, but I’ll never have the little toddler back, which makes me sad.

  8. Nickie @ Typecast 15/04/2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Fold them up really really small and put them in a box, in a box and pretend that you’ve disposed of them – then you’ll discover them again when you come back 😉

  9. Allaboutheboys - Karen 16/04/2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Beautiful post. Certainly hold onto the best ones. Nothing compares to the love and detail that goes into handcrafted clothes. I kept my No1 son’s 1st pair of levi’s and RL Shirts. For sentimental reasons never dreaming that when he was 10 I would have twin boys ! I have kept their tiny 1st clothes too. Their 1st socks fit onto their little fingers now : ) xx

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/04/2010 at 5:30 pm #

      Thank you. My mother inherited my father’s sisters’ clothes, all of which were handmade. She gave them to a museum because they were too beautiful to keep in a cupboard and far too fragile for my children to wear.

  10. MummyMatters 16/04/2010 at 9:58 pm #

    What a lovely post, I currentlyhave 15 boxes of clothes in my loft that my daughter has grown out of and I just can’t bear to part with. They grow so fast and like you I remember special events by the clothes she wore.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 16/04/2010 at 10:30 pm #

      Every day I moan about the children, but by far the worst bit of parenthood is how fast they are growing up.

  11. Heather 17/04/2010 at 7:52 am #

    I got rid of a load of baby clothes recentloy and it was so hard. Each one has its own little momery. but there were about 5 bin bags and really, i don’t need 5 bin bags of baby clothes so i made myself be sensible and give them away. Still hard though.

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