This week I cried over a diaper box full of baby clothes, size 18 months – 2 T.
In the middle of putting away yet another load of Abby’s laundry, I decided to perform a quick purge of the things she’s outgrown. First, to make it easier when we go to get her dressed, and second, because a little friend of ours is exactly the right size to wear them.
It took me next to no-time to sort out the items to pass along. I kept back a couple things that have a little more sentimental value. Most of these clothes have been clogging up Abby’s room, and overflowing into a teetering stack in the guest room closet, for at least a year now. Everything in the box no longer fits her. The vast majority of the items were hand-me-downs or gifts.
And yet, for some reason, as I finished up and moved on to cleaning the kitchen, instead of feeling relieved and accomplished, I found myself feeling gloomy and weepy.
I washed dishes while I tried to sort out what was going on with me. The water and soap swirling around my sink mirrored the thoughts in my head.
The first was, “I can’t believe how fast this is going!”
Listen, it’s SUPER ANNOYING to hear this when you’re a new mom, I know from experience. The newborn days feel like they last 10 years apiece. The nights are even longer. Anyone who told me to “enjoy it, it goes by so fast!” was lucky I know Jesus and also that I didn’t have the energy to smack them with a Sophie Giraffe.
And yet, looking back on the past 3 years, I can not believe how much has happened, how quickly she’s grown, how many things she’s learning….and it’s all somehow summed up in a box of adorable clothes and tiny shoes that only fit her for like 5 minutes and how is it possible she won’t wear this little dress ever again??
Now, I’m pretty sure this reaction is temporary. I’m a firm believer that I will be a much better Big Kid Mom than I was a Baby Mom. (Please Lord, let it be so.) And also, the clutter in my house, especially in Abby’s room, literally is making me grind my teeth. So that momentary Awww Factor was not enough to explain why I was dripping tears into the dish water.
Dave asked why I was in the mullygrubs, listened to me ramble for a few minutes, then deftly pinpointed the problem. (How does he always seem to do that?!?)
“You’re acting like you’re giving up your hope.”
Aaannnd there it is. These clothes don’t just represent the past three years of Abby’s life that are over and won’t come back. They also represent the possibility another baby girl could join our family and wear them. Giving them away feels like giving up on the idea of having a second child.
This is where I stop and say to myself, “Jessica, why are you blogging about this super personal topic for strangers on the internet to read?” And then I answer, “I don’t know, it’s just what’s on my mind today.”
Because talking about whether or not we’ll have another baby really isn’t a public discussion. But the part of it pulling on me right now is something I think everyone can relate to: hope, and how our future is not in our control.
There are so many factors that swirl in my brain whenever the idea of another baby comes up: I never pictured our family with an only-child, but motherhood is WAAAAAY harder than I ever dreamed and I don’t know if I’m very good at it; Abby would be amazing as a big sister, but what if she missed having all my attention?; I’m thirty-five years old and if we’re going to do this, sooner would probably be better, but what about those really ROUGH early days of breastfeeding struggle and Postpartum Anxiety, the ones that I recognize in the faces and photos of other new mamas, occasionally sending me into an emotional flashback so strong it rocks me to my core?
And then, there’s the timing. We’re less than a year away from Dave leaving the Army, and with it, the guarantee of our predictable income and healthcare. It wouldn’t be wise to try to have another baby before that and after that…well…who knows what will be happening?
There’s where my swirling and spiraling and tumbling thoughts come to a stop. Because that’s the only question with a knowable answer: who knows?
And He’s in control of all of this anyway. We can “decide” all day long that we’re going to have another baby, but we can’t actually make that happen. We can come to the conclusion “nope, we’re done!” and He can still send us another little person if He deems it’s what our family needs.
My hope isn’t in a box of toddler clothes. Those are just things, easily replaced if the need arises.
God holds our future. We don’t know where we are going, what we’ll be doing, where we will live, or what our family will look like. All the tears, and fears, and angst, and worry won’t make it any clearer until it gets here.
And when the “future” does arrive, you know what it will look and feel like?
Because that’s all we have.
The past is over. I can’t go back and change anything, any more than I can cram Abby’s 3T body into one of those cute little 18-month-sized dresses.
The future is not real to me yet. I can’t touch it or see it or know it until I get there.
But to God, it’s all the same. It’s all His reality. He is not bound by time. He holds it all.
So the question comes down to whether or not I really trust Him: to provide for us as He’s always done, to bring another child into our family at the right time, or to be my Peace if that never happens.
Can I let go of the past with gratitude, stop worrying about the future, and lean on His strength for TODAY, in this place, with this home, and this child, and these responsibilities?
If I can, there’s freedom. And also, a little more closet space.