One day last week, I took advantage of being home without Ian and I packed away some of his baby toys that he'd really outgrown. He still played with them, but it was becoming increasingly clear that it was just because they were there, not because he was actively choosing them, you know?
Packing away the outgrown things is such a bittersweet chore. Part of me is THRILLED to get these plastic things out of the living room -- they're huge and they don't store well in any sort of toybox configuration -- but, at the same time, there's something so final about saying goodbye to toys that he loved so much when he was tiny. It's the passing of an era.
The toys are just the smallest part of it. There are all the outgrown clothes -- I have to consider and smile at each little onesie and tiny pair of shorts before packing it away into the bin. We've long since said goodbye to the bouncy seat and the exersaucer. The highchair hasn't been used in months (though it's still in the corner of the kitchen; we've not yet gotten around to moving it into storage). We can even see the end of Ian's crib days.
Bittersweet really is the only word for it. I LOVE the little boy that Ian is becoming. I love that he's so self-sufficient now. I love that he can carry on a conversation. I love that he's starting to really learn his letters and even recognizes his name when he sees it written out. I love how hilariously imaginative he is. I love that we're approaching the age where we can really do things together, like cook and take hikes and stargaze and build birdfeeders at Home Depot on Saturday morning. But at the same time, I loved all the earlier phases too, and it's kind of sad to know that once they're gone, they're gone. Everything is so fleeting -- one day he's calling things "soam" and "happy-to-you," and the very next day those same two objects are the far more pedestrian "phone" and "cupcake" and some of that childhood cuteness is gone. Blink and you miss it.
On a practical note, I really wish I knew, long-term, what will happen to all of these things. Many of Ian's little friends have new little baby brothers or sisters at home, or will soon, but we are nowhere near that yet. Honestly, I feel more and more like I might very well be done at one...but who knows how I'll feel two years from now, or five years from now. In the meantime, though, that leaves the question of what to do with all of this stuff. For now, it's just going into the basement because we really would not want to have to re-acquire all of this stuff should we have a second baby, but it would be so much easier to just be able to get it out of the house now. Because if I have such a hard time packing it up now, I imagine it will only be worse in five years when I need to go through it all AGAIN.
And then, of course, there's the question of what I would want to keep around -- for nostalgia, for babies who might visit, for Ian to rediscover and reminisce about someday, or just because today's toys are tomorrow's vintage treasures. I can't even think, yet, about how I will make those sorts of decisions.
Who ever thought I'd become this much of a sap? Motherhood is indeed a strange journey.