I'm always intrigued by the lists of things no one tells you when becoming a parent. I decided to add my own what-I-wish-I-knew-about-becoming-a-parent tidbit: how hard and sad it would be to put away or donate outgrown clothes, toys, and books.
I quite often catch myself watching my little boy as he explores his world of toy animals, trucks, nature, and pretend play — simply seeing him growing up before my very eyes — and it is such a bittersweet experience. Don't get me wrong, I love watching him develop and surpass all his milestones, and I love being part of all the growing up adventures, but I can't help feeling a little sad and wishing time would slow down just a little. They say the days are long, and the years are short, but I find it's all too short.
Whenever it comes time to switch out clothes for the next season, or to purge toys and books to get ready for new additions, I'm always hit with the same reminder that time is passing so quickly, and that he's growing and changing in ways that I can't control. As I sort through the piles of outgrown clothes and toys, I'm flooded with memories of my toddler's early days and reminded of how little and vulnerable he was, which reminds me that my ability to protect him lessens as he gets older. As a parent, I know my job isn't to protect, shelter, or save him, but to teach him how to handle things when difficult moments in life get hard. But it certainly isn’t going to be easy.
And it's not just about him growing up too fast, it's also a reflection of all the firsts: his first smile, giggle, crawl, steps, and saying "Mama" and "Dada". It's hard to believe that baby is now a little kid, and there is a sense of loss there as he grows up, especially since he's most likely going to be my one and only. I loved the newborn and baby stages, and I am loving the toddler years so much that it's hard to accept that I won't get the chance to re-experience these seasons once they pass.
So, if you're feeling a little sad as you put away the things that your little one has outgrown, know that you're not alone. We just have to remember to appreciate and celebrate all the amazing things they're accomplishing and who they're becoming as people. Whether it's learning to dress themselves, using the potty, or just growing taller, every step of the way is a milestone to be proud of. In the end, putting these things away is just one small part of the motherhood journey. There will be many more milestones and challenges to come, and we'll continue to watch our kids grow and change in ways that we can't even imagine. But no matter how fast they grow, they'll always be our little ones, and we'll always cherish the memories of their little hands holding onto ours.