The night before I last I packed up all my new baby clothes and things for the last time. The sadness of leaving behind a stage of motherhood is surprisingly strong and I always slightly dread it, but it can still catch me unawares, for all that. I’m already dreading when I have to pack up the clothes that she’s currently too small for!
I’ve been blessed over the last four years by having some very generous friends with children a little older than my own and now it’s my turn to share the wealth and pass along outgrown items to expectant friends for their babies to wear.
In many ways it’s a positive thing – how lovely to think of your baby’s Moses basket being slept in by your friend’s baby, or that sweet turquoise baby grow you loved stretched taut over the rounded tummy of your little niece. I’m also secretly quite pleased to get back the space I lost to the Moses basket, bouncy chair, playnest and changing table – we only have a two-bed house! In so many more ways though it’s one of the heartbreaking milestones of being a Mama and having your last baby.
I’m fairly sure The Man doesn’t understand and regards me indulgently as a harmless fruitloop. I burst into tears over the little white cardie with ladybird buttons that I knitted for my Boy (and that never fitted the girl) and the babygros that are just too special to give away so have been lovingly folded into a bag until I organise a memory box for each of them. I buried my nose in a few things I was giving away and, even though they’ve been washed, they seem infused with the sweet, milky smell of my babies and a tight knot built in my throat.
My children are growing up and there are many wonderful things about that, and I’m glad to be helping out some of my friends. I even look forward to seeing those little clothes on other little warm bodies and smiling wistfully at my memories, but by god it was hard to do it. In my sadness I turned to the lovely women who have been (virtually) by my side over the last four years of pregnancy and motherhood and their words were so comforting and helpful I thought I should probably represent their support in their own words, so here are some direct quotes. If you’re feeling like I’m feeling then perhaps you can find some comfort there too.
“It’s OK, it’s mourning the days that have passed. It’s alright to let that pass with some grief”
“Ooh but all the things can go on to have another life where they will be used and loved!”
“It’s only natural, we all do it. You just need to deal with the mourning of that period of your life in the best way that suits you. Look back with fond memories and look forward with excitement of the unknown.”
Thank you, dear friends. How much we mothers need other mothers to give us a hand up the steep bits as we walk the path of motherhood, or just to walk beside us when it rains.