I really hate shopping, and I’m not comfortable spending large amounts of money, but there is a person in my household who requires a brand new wardrobe every 3-4 months.
Her name is Ruthie, she is super chic, and she’s 11 months old going on 18, if her clothes are anything to go by. And I am lucky that her new digs are so cheap.
Today, Ruthie and I spent a good half hour in her room, her scooting around on her butt in just a diaper (she is stubborn and refuses to crawl, but moves around her own way–unconventionally), me cross-legged on the floor, both of us surrounded by her 12- and 18-month size clothes. On the left was a bag I was folding the former into, and on the right was a laundry basket I was tossing the latter into.
I used tiny scissors to cut off the tiny tags from the tiny shirts and pants and socks and hats and dresses and SHORTS for the first time that are going to be her late winter-early spring wardrobe. Ruthie kept trying to grab the scissors, completely bored by the various other dangerous implements in her room–lamp, cat, garbage can full of poopy diapers.
As I de-tagged ruffly dresses and Easter outfits and polka dot pants, I thought about the other times I’d performed this ritual. The first time was soon after she was born, a hefty little thing even though she was three weeks early. She outgrew her newborn clothes before her due date had arrived, so when she was just a few days old, I reverently washed a whole season of 0-3 month clothes. They were so, so tiny, and so, so precious. I hadn’t purchased any of those outfits, so blessed we were with generous friends and family. I thought of everyone who’d given her each outfit every time we got dressed in the morning.
The more times I performed the new wardrobe ritual, the fewer clothes were already in her closet. I had to start shopping for baby clothes, usually on clearance at Target or the Children’s Place, and often at Sam’s Club or Walmart. I kept an eye out for sleepers for her giant butt and hats for her giant head and socks that wouldn’t cut the circulation off her giant feet. She is forever too big for her clothes.
This morning, I was struck by how large her new 18-month size seemed. I remembered when a whole season of clothes barely filled half a laundry basket, and this morning the comparatively small stack of outfits overflowed onto the floor quite quickly, by sheer dint of their volume.
I looked at Ruthie as she shuffled around the room, struggling to pull up on furniture, occasionally shouting out some baby babble. I looked back at the laundry basket and remembered when we’d first done this activity together, in our old apartment, Ruthie, just a few pounds, resting in her little baby bouncer and gazing at me calmly. I looked back at her again this morning, on the cusp of walking and talking and growing up and leaving me one day.
It was the first time I felt like our time together had gone quickly, and the first time I felt regret for having let those first weeks and months of her life slide past me as I wished for time to go faster. She’s still a little baby, but every day, she’ll never be as little as she was the day before.
It kind of breaks my heart.