Sunday, September 14, 2014

When folding laundry becomes a walk down memory lane

I've just folded my daughter's laundry. It's one of the more contemplation-inducing housekeeping tasks. At the cusp of a new season, nostalgia washes over me as I weed out what she's outgrown. I marvel at how different she is in a few months' time—a cycle that repeats itself like our laundry piles. I set aside a few things to serve as a yardstick for next summer. How much more will she have grown over the coming two seasons?

I fold the sweatshirt from our trip to Brugge, Belgium. The muscles in my chest tighten. I bought the sweatshirt oversized so that it would last longer than a season, and it has. Cadence's frame has filled out and stretched longer since she took her maiden voyage abroad. Eighteen months since the trip, it is a bittersweet fact that the sweatshirt is on borrowed time.

I am still thrilled by this purchase. It satisfied my goal for practical souvenirs in multiple ways: I remember clearly the shop we bought it in; it has kept my hot-blooded girl warm when the temps required a jacket; and the “I heart Brugge The Most” graphic has served as a terrific conversation starter for Cadence to share her experiences.

My reaction to my daughter outgrowing this item of clothing is a placeholder for the sorrow of motherhood—that push and pull we mothers navigate every day. We want (sometimes demand) our children to grow up and out of one stage of childhood only to be grief-stricken when it actually happens!

There's a rubbermaid container in my basement that I've been meaning to go through. It is a museum of Cadence's earlier stages. I don't plan on purging the entire collection, but after seven years I'm curious to see what items' strong tugs on my heart strings may have faded with time. I hope a few things can be passed on, so I can make room for the Brugges sweatshirt when the time comes. This alternating holding tight and letting go marks motherhood at every stage whether we like it or not.

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