Finding Healing in Hand-me Downs

I am going through my babies’ old clothes.

I kept boxes and boxes of clothes that were neither stained nor ripped, but also not special enough to keep forever, in boxes in my attic waiting for a friend or sibling to have a baby girl … but alas no baby girl has come. We are in the process of moving and I refuse to pay the movers to relocate items that may or may not be used, plus they are stored in some really great boxes that would be very handy.

So I sat down to bag up all this precious clothing to donate. And if you know me, you know that I’m kind of a hard-ass when it comes to early motherhood stuff. I was inducted hard and fast into this path of motherhood. There was no gentle easing. There were no quiet fantasies. It was loud and hard and it hurt and it was a lot. So I feel like rather than taking small sips of motherhood at a time, I was waterboarded. It was just heaped and heaped and heaped onto me until my body and mind broke. But I am a mom and strong and so I pushed through.

All of this to say that there is a lot of time from my children’s babyhoods that I never really got to sit in and enjoy because there really wasn’t much to savor. Even though there was this precious new baby, there were feeding complications and sleep problems and another precious baby around the corner. So in all of that, I forgot a lot.

But in going through all these tiny pieces of clothing I remembered.

I remembered sweet moments and what my babies looked like in these outfits.

And the grief took my breath away.

So I called my husband, and he is just as surprised as I am by my reaction. Because it’s “just clothes.”

But I am realizing it’s not “just clothes” for me because I picked them out. I planned and selected their clothing. I browsed online sites during late-night breastfeeding sessions to stay awake. I stalked sale sites to find special clothes at our price point. I was the one who bought things before they were even born and imagined what my babies would look like in them. I chose their clothes for school each day and got them dressed and packed backup outfits. I was the one taking pictures of them in these clothes to try to hold onto a memory I knew my brain would erase.

And so I gave myself permission to be gentle with myself, to give past me a little hug, and to grieve my children as babies. This passing of a phase that was ten years of our lives hit all at once. To finally find the sweetness from that time of our lives, in spite of the trauma and hardships, brought peace and joy in the memories.

Those were wounds only time could heal.

Sarah Keating
Sarah is a 30-something mom of four children under six and wife to her high-school sweetheart. She returned to Acadiana two years ago following her husband’s completion of medical school and residency in Shreveport. After the move, Sarah switched gears from full-time pediatric speech-language pathologist and working mom to full-time stay-at-home mom to her brood. Her current hobbies include “speech-therapizing” her children, re-reading the Outlander series, catching up on her Netflix queue after the kids go to bed, completing XHIT videos at naptime, and taking her medication every morning. She loves and respects the sacredness of motherhood, but sometimes you just have to let go and laugh it out. Motherhood has been the most humbling, and empowering journey she has experienced.


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