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How do you catch a breath?

Have you ever picked up one of your child’s toy, the one you’ve already picked up, it seems, 1,000,000,000 times already, and thought, “Is this the last time I put this away?” One day, it will be the last time. And you won’t know that it was. I gather summer clothes for the boys – trying to remember which one of the 4 boys wore which t-shirts, calculating who might fit into this one this year, and which ones are definitely too small and will no longer be worn by any person I birthed.

T-shirts I had once completely forgotten, bring back a memory here and there, “I remember when he picked blueberries wearing this.” These shirts were once, as familiar to me as the faces of my children. I don’t remember choosing to forget about these t-shirts when I packed them away last fall. But I did. And, just as quickly, I will forget about these familiar sweaters too, as I pack them away. I won’t even realize I’m doing it. But for now, as I lead my busy life washing and packing Winter clothes, freshening Summer clothes, buying new sandals for 8 feet, I pack the memories away.

But I’m setting the stage to forget. Children shed their childhood in layers, so quickly, so subtly, that we hardly notice it’s happening. I wonder. How much of my boy’s habits, “sayings”, dreams and wishes am I packing away with these sweaters? I know I’m doing this. But I can’t stop it. It’s like trying to catch a breath. (You can catch a footprint, here.)

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18 comments to “How do you catch a breath?”
  1. We do associate so much with things, don’t we. I used to mark vertical lines on the clothing tags as I did laundry. 1 for first child, ll for second, lll for third. Soon it was a grab bag and they swap now back and forth.

    Such a sweet picture. Aren’t sleeping children beautiful?

  2. That’s been on my mind as well lately, what the ancient Japanese referred to as the immanence of things. All we can do is live in that moment as much as we can. And hang onto those clothes as long as we can. Size eight shoes. Dudelet’s just moved up a size. And thrown away his dummy.

  3. Do you think that maybe if we stopped watering them they would stop growing so fast? (un)relaxeddad I have a really good way to capture that footprint in plaster, let me know, and I’ll share it. Reminds me — I need to create a new batch.

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  5. That is so true! It does seem like that’s how they slip away into adult hood.

    I look at my son, soon to turn 18 and I wonder how did it happen, wasn’t he just playing with his hot wheels in the sand and now he’s planning his future, growin up and soon he’ll be on his own.

    Obviously it’s very difficult to watch your kids grow – this year has been exceptionally hard for me as he graduates high school and I have to relinquish some of that hold I’ve been able to maintain and let him experience and grow into his own independence.

    I love this story for your entry – I’ll link it up right away!

  6. Time does fly by and I love looking at photos and seeing the same tee-shirt on my three sons. I look at their rooms and see the years of their lives hanging on the walls, sitting on the bureaus and yes, lying on the floor.
    Very nice post!

  7. Beautifully written. I’m not a mother but I feel I can still relate to the emotion you have. Every time my mother would say something when I was younger I thought she was just crazy, I can see at this moment how hard that was for her. It’s amazing what growing up does and how everything comes full circle.

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