Thoughtful Thursday: Memento

January 28, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdayBurrito 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?

23 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Memento”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    I keep everything. I’m a hoarder. I’m currently going through all my stuff to decide exactly what I do want. I’ve found tons of things from when I was 15/16/17 and I can’t bear to get rid of it, even with the bad memories attached. I want to keep it for my children, so they can see what kind of person I was.

  2. I keep the outgrown baby clothes, hoping we’ll be able to have another baby someday, so he/she can wear them.

    With other things, I have the feeling there’s not much reasoning behind what I keep and what I throw/give away. Some things have special memories, others don’t, but I still keep them, even if I don’t use them anymore. Other things I can get rid off more easily.

    That said, the things I always keep are photos and books. Maybe because they both tell stories, albeit in a different way…?

  3. Michele Says:

    All of our babies have boxes. Nicholas and Sophia’s has their birth stuff in it, their blankets, their hats, and the memorial cards people sent; Alexander’s has the same. Bobby and Maya’s has the cards, etc, plus the clothes I cant part with, like one of their preemie hats and my favorite preemie outfit for each. Looking at it now (Bobby went from 2lb13oz to 13lb and Maya from 2lb5oz to 10lb, now at 4.5 months old), it’s hard to believe they wore those!

    Why do I keep them? Just to have them, to remind me, to help me remember. Not that I could ever forget.

  4. a Says:

    I keep stuff for a while, and then I weed it out. But that’s my stuff.

    For my daughter, I have all of her stuff. There is a bin of things that I will never give away, because they were so cute, or meaningful, or I was attached to them. She can have them when she gets older and throw them out if she wants to. The rest of the stuff is just sitting there in limbo. There’s no real reason to keep it, because it doesn’t look like we’ll be having any more kids. But every time my husband makes a move towards getting rid of it, I start tearing up and getting anxious. So, there it sits. Actually, I told him that if he wants to sort it and sell it, it’s his problem. I’m not doing it. Or maybe we’ll just have a garage sale in the spring.

  5. Kristin Says:

    I have kept almost all of the baby clothes we have used over the years. At times, they have been lent out but they’ve always come home to me. Once I am 100% sure we aren’t going to have any more kids, I am going to take pics of the outfits and then cut them up to make memory quilts. Hopefully, I will make one for each of the kids and one for me.

  6. Idraena Says:

    Apparently I’m de-lurking for good. You always have such interesting questions, even though some of them are exclusively baby- or IF-related and I can’t answer.

    Anyway, I keep notebooks and books. I keep the notebooks because of what I’ve written in them, and because I think the design I chose at the time says something about me. And this may be a strange thing, but if I buy books, or especially if people give me books, I am reluctant to part with them, even if I’m 100% sure I’m never going to read them again. Maybe that’s the writer in me.

    Aside from that, I too keep photographs (any and all of them, stored on my computer — I nearly had a heart attack when my non-backed-up computer got water damage. All those documents AND my photos?! Luckily it got fixed and everything was fine.)

    I think if I ever have kids the items I will not want to part with over everything else will be the tiny, adorable baby shoes, mostly because I could not care less about the baby section at the moment *except for those adorable shoes*. And also because I just really, really like shoes. lol.

  7. jill Says:

    I hate clutter and junk but I hang on to way too much. Photos are definitely one. I don’t take many (and my husband hates them) but I can’t bare to throw away photos. I still have text books and notebooks from highschool and college – I will never use them again and probably never look at them again but I can’t throw them away. I used to keep dried flowers from different occasions. But, there’s nothing quite like opening a box to find decayed, dusty, stinky flowers in it – they were all tossed. Most often, I keep way too much, box it away, and end up throwing it out years later.

    I do have a stash of baby things (new and used) that I’ll probably never use. I have contemplated giving them away to IFers (that would make me happy I think) but I just can’t bare to part with them yet.

  8. Ana Says:

    I keep everything. I have made myself stop buying souvenirs because I can NEVER throw them away. I have a big box at my parents house full of “momentos” from high school prom, college boyfriends, etc… some of them I have totally forgotten the significance of—but I CANNOT throw them out!
    I am sure I will have a hard time throwing out the outgrown baby clothes & later, toys & other things.
    I am fanatic about pictures. I’ve already taken 100s, I try to capture every moment!

  9. Elana Kahn Says:

    I keep everything because I’m a pack rat. It’s really pathetic, but I have a very difficult time throwing anything out. Therefore, I need people to be like “Elana are you really EVER going to need this?” so I can answer “no, probably not” and then chuck it. 😀

  10. strongblonde Says:

    my parents threw everything away, so i think that makes me want to keep everything. b’s parents kept EVERYTHING, so that makes him want to get rid of stuff. the funny thing is that i HATE clutter and useless stuff. right now there’s a basket full of baby clothes in the extra bedroom. i can’t decide what to do with it! we have two close friends who have twins due this year and another friend who is due with a girl in march. i suppose we should just give it to them.

    ….but what if try a FET later?

  11. Lavender Luz Says:

    You don’t have to love all parts of the story to love the story. All fairy tales have a wart or two.

    So I can understand your urge to hang on to the teensy hats.

    I keep their diaries. I want them to have a snippet of every day of their lives captured until I turn it over to them to chronicle.

  12. coffeegrl Says:

    Hmmm. I keep favorite books – but they have to be really, really significant to me or eventually they get loaned out, donated, etc. I kept a lot of handwritten letters that people sent me when I was in college. I am so glad that I did. Hand written letters received in the mail are so rare these days, and the ones that I have from my now deceased grandfather are a wonderful reminder to me of how special he was. I keep wanting to put them in an album so that I can really memorialize them instead of just keeping them in a box under the bed. I kept a bunch of ticket stubs etc. thinking I’d make scrapbooks, but as time marches on and I still haven’t made an album of my trip to Australia in 1995, I’m thinking maybe I never will make it and I should just toss the stuff (since I can’t even remember what 1/2 of it was!).

  13. WiseGuy Says:

    What a strong coincidence for the timing of this particular question in the TT. Today morning, I took out two dresses to give away to my domestic help….one of them is the one I wore to listen to my great beta news appointment with my doc after the IVFw/ICSI cycle.

    Why do I want to give it away? Because, even though I did wear the dress off and on after that day, it ALWAYS reminded me of that blackness I was in following the news…it reminded me of the girl who came back home and cried in the shower so that one will know, and who did not feel like combing her hair for days… until the half-hour before leaving on a train to travel to the current-abode city. I want to be free from that constant reminder.

    My DH recently ‘discovered’ a pink bunny that I had bought and stored pseudo-secretly in the house. He asked me why I bought it, and I simply told him that it was meant for my baby.

    I know that if the baby never comes for me, that bunny is never ever going to be given away for the rest of my life. Even when the baby would arrive, it would be my baby’s first toy…the first one I got the kid, and it will still stay forever with me.

    I think why we choose to give away or not give away certain things is very strongly connected to what that object symbolises for us….

    In a different light, I got three papier mache crows….a memento that may appear weird to some of my guests, but very strongly symbolic to me….

  14. Shinejil Says:

    I weep every time I see Bruiser’s preemie clothes, which he wore for about two weeks. But still. I’m happy to pass on or donate most of his stuff, but there are a few things (and one of them involves monkeys, too, btw) I want to hold onto, to have a physical path back to these months.

    Or maybe it’s the monkeys… 🙂

  15. Photogrl Says:

    I struggle with being a pack rat.

    I still have items from high school that are packed away, I just can’t part with.

    When it comes down to baby clothes, all of Miss O.’s items from birth to about 3T have been picked over and I tried to keep only a few favorite outfits. Unfortunately, I haven’t gone through anything in the last 3 years, just packed it up in bins.

    Pictures are another problem…I love to take them, but never have time to do anything with them.

  16. Mel Says:

    I keep way too many things–not only the clothes (we’ve parted with very little of it) and toys and blankets, but also their art work, random scribbles, and school work. I have the feeding sheets we kept right when they were born and the medication schedule and guides from the heart monitor company. Hell, I even have an old set of unused leads.

    Why do I keep all these things–I don’t know. I neatly pack them into boxes and put the boxes in the storage room and deal with them whenever we clean the storage room. But for whatever reason, I can’t deal with them in the moment. I choose to do all my crying and regret in a single day.

    We have used the preemie clothes on dolls–the ones from the Gap make for ultra cool doll clothes.

  17. heather Says:

    since my first was a singleton i saved everything in big bins, and lucky i did, cause my next one was of the same sex. now that were done im only saving my favorites, witch now have double the sentiment, some memories more tied to one or the other. i was saving them to make them memory quilts, but knowing how so many adult friends i have treat their memory quilts, i think im just going to make it and keep it for me, one big quilt from both of them. i shall call it my mommy quilt!

  18. mekate Says:

    I’m still IVFIng as you know, so I’m keeping the tops off the vials I shoot up with because someday? I’ll use them to tile the friggin bathroom.


  19. PFM Says:

    It’s funny that I read this this morning b/c I was cleaning out min man’s closet last night. I have done this before and it wasn’t any easier then to decide which items to keep and which to give away. I have no idea if I will ever have a little boy again. I keep all the unisex clothes. I have a really hard time deciding to give away his clothes. As he grows and the baby items are few and far between I feel a pang. I hope to get them out again. In other aspects of my life. I am like you. Photographs are what remind me of the past. I don’t tend to collect items. I do keep cards and special items in photo boxes. But I try to keep those to a minimum.

  20. This is such a good question! Right now, I am struggling with what to do with Birdie’s newly outgrown newborn clothes. I look at them at my heart breaks at the thought of getting rid of them. I burst into tears when DH suggested we give them to a cousin’s soon to be born baby. I have a rocky relationship with the cousin and his girlfriend, and I don’t think they will even appreciate it, so I don’t think I can give them things that I care about.

    We may not pursue treatments to have another baby, but there is a small chance that I might be able to eventually talk DH into it, so I am inclined to keep most of the clothes and get rid of the few outfits (mostly hideous gifts or hand me downs) that I don’t care about. I agree with Mel – preemie and newborn clothes make excellent doll clothes.

  21. magpie Says:

    I have hoarder tendencies that I need to keep in check. That said, there are two boxes of the girl’s clothes: the vault. They will be kept until the end of time.

  22. Sandy Naidu Says:

    I have a box for each of my children – I don’t collect too many things though – very selective – photos must – a couple of dresses – favorite toy – and a few other mementos…

  23. Cat Says:

    I’m a firm believer in not keeping stuff stowed away in boxes if it has sentimental value, but I’m not very good at practicing it. If I were, I’d have one outfit per baby from each size framed and hanging on the wall! I try to be selective, because I don’t like clutter, and only keep things that are really important to me or that I actually use, but sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to what I keep.

    I do actually plan to keep one thing from each size for each baby and hang onto it to give to each when they’re older. As that collection grows I may change my mind and only keep those that have a specific precious memory attached, like the outfit worn home from the hospital. One thing we did was to lay the preemie sleepers on them at 6 months to show how much they’d grown.

    For the most part, I just keep pictures, though I do have a lot of paraphernalia from trips that I planned to use in scrapbooks that I never actually made. Someday, maybe?

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