Thoughtful Thursday: Memento
January 28, 2010
Burrito and Tamale are 2 1/2 times the size they were at birth, which means they’ve outgrown all of their preemie clothes and almost all of their 0-3 month clothes. I’ve been rotating out the small clothes to make way for the next size. I’ve been putting everything into a box, with the boy and neutral clothes soon headed for my SIL’s upcoming baby, henceforth to be known on the blog as my nephew Murphy.
I’ve gotten quite nostalgic about some of the clothes, either due to the tiny size, memories of specific times that the clothes were worn, or the cuteness of the outfits themselves. As I put them into the hand-me-down box, I often have the impulse that I should keep them as mementos instead of passing them along.
So far, the only item I’ve actually kept out of the box has been one (but not all) of their NICU hats, which DH describes as “iconic.” I’ve been willing to relinquish potential heirlooms such as booties knitted for the babies by relatives, yet I’m reluctant to part with a store-bought sleeper that just happens to only fit preemies under 7 pounds and just happens to have adorable monkeys. To what end? So that my grandchildren can wear it someday, if G-d forbid they happen to be preemies? So that I can pull it out of the closet as my children get older and bore them with stories of how tiny they were? So that I can selectively idolize the past, ignoring all of the bad emotions that accompanied the good? When I pick up an article of outgrown clothing, kiss it and start crying, DH looks at me like I’ve lost it. Maybe I have.
Lest you think my sentimentality began with motherhood, I’ve also kept mementos of the creation process, from IVF pottery to fertility talismans to art purchased to inspire me during treatment cycles. Some of them retain their inherent functional or aesthetic value, but some, like the fertility talismans, probably aren’t serving any purpose just sitting in my jewelry box.
Outside of family building, my main mementos tend to be photographs. When I have photos, I don’t need t-shirts or keychains to remind me that I went somewhere or did something. Except for that picture frame I bought on my favorite bridge, which I’m storing in the closet for a few years until I go back there with my children and can put a photo of them on the bridge into the frame. Or those jerseys I bought at foreign sporting events. Or the handmade journal from that tiny shop in Rome. Or that huge box of ticket stubs… You get the idea.
It’s a funny balance to try to memorialize the past, look to the future, and mindfully embrace the present. With every hand-me-down that I actually hand down instead of tucking away for posterity, I’m trying to move forward. Even when doing so makes me cry.
What do you keep? Why do you keep what you keep?