Monday, August 8, 2016

Mothering Monday: Onto a New Phase of Mothering

At the moment, I am literally buried by clothes. When you have six children, the clothes situation is no joke. As a family we are trying to live a bigger life with more experiences and less stuff. Last week, I challenged my children to go through all their belongings so we could hold a garage sale of our unwanted and unused items. Any proceeds they earn will go to a daytrip at a local water park, or another destination of their choosing. They are slowing working their way through their junk. I'm buried in the contents of several plastic bins looking for items to sell and to reorganize.

That pink bin on the table in the picture was filled with Winter's baby clothes. Winter is now 2 1/2 and truthfully, she is our last baby. We feel our family is complete with six children and I'm ready to move onto a different stage of parenting and new personal opportunities. My husband and I feel at peace with our decision, but oh the flood of memories I have experienced as I have sorted through those tiny baby clothes.

Many people would hold onto that bin of clothes for sentimental reasons. Others might keep them just in case another baby were to come. I can't see the practical benefit of keeping the clothes. We don't intend to stay in New York forever. At some point, we hope to live abroad again, and will likely have to massively reduce our belongings. Speaking from personal experience, it is better to declutter gradually so it isn't a huge undertaking in the end. Also, I don't want to burden my children or grandchildren with the decluttering process four or five decades later. It's time to let those clothes go, while they are in good condition and can be a blessing to another family.

I did save a few little precious outfits that were particularly meaningful. My older boys wore these bright orange hoodies when we lived in Sweden. I could always pick them out in a crowd at the playground.

I discovered two of my abayas tucked away in the bins. I kept those because I want to remember what it felt like to live in the Middle East and wear an abaya. Seeing my abayas also reminds me of our adventures our the wonderful friends we made.

As I have sorted through clothes I have remembered what it was like to have three small active and mischievous boys with their Bionicle and Superhero obsessions. Seeing my girls' clothes reminds me how I much I wanted daughters and what they mean to me. (I wanted my boys too, but I had a whole bunch in quick succession, and given my husband's extended family, it looked like I wouldn't have a daughter... Plus the whole lupus thing almost made having more children an impossibility.) While I reflect on their childhoods, I also see how they are all growing up so well. As much as I enjoy looking back, I am so excited for their futures.

These clothes are tangible reminders that I appreciate, but I can give them up because their stories are recorded in scrapbooks filled with pictures and details that are rich and vivid.

As my kids outgrow their clothes and toys, we are moving on to new opportunities. Soon my oldest will either leave for a mission or start university. My youngest is just a few short years away from kindergarten. My role as mother is changing and evolving. I don't find the change frightening, but rather interesting and full of possibility.

So goodbye old clothes. You've served us well. You kept my kids clothed through all sorts of adventures. I've washed you more times than I can count and I'm happy to say goodbye to both the washing and the clothes.

When you transition to a new phase of life, do you find that process challenging? How do you find peace with a new phase? How do you deal with old clothes your children have outgrown? 


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