One of the best gifts I received as a first time mom-to-be? A huge bag full of hand-me-downs from my best friend, full of baby clothes and shoes her two girls had worn. Going through that bag, I remember thinking how long it would be before my tiny baby would fit into these huge clothes. That tiny baby wore those clothes this summer. Aside from the fact that hand me downs are practical (moms of infants: start stock piling stain remover STAT), there is something sentimental about your little one wearing clothes of the kids that you have watched grow since babyhood.
Lately I’ve also noticed that giving hand-me-downs may be even more awesome than receiving them. Yes, it’s just clothes and shoes, but I can’t help but attach emotions to the little footie pajamas that snuggled my baby the day she came home from the hospital, and her precious little moccasins, black on the toes from hours spent learning to crawl on a muddy fall day. In the end yes, it’s just stuff, but these gifts (coupled with social media) have become another way to cherish baby memories, and this sisterhood of the traveling baby clothes is a beautiful tradition.
I quickly double-tap on the picture of a precious newborn on Instagram with a tear-stained face, snuggled against mama in the baby wrap I gave her mama when she was expecting. My heart skips a beat because it seems like just yesterday I was frantically strapping my own infant into that miracle piece of fabric, praying for a break from the non-stop crying. Those days seemed endless at the time, yet in a flash that piece of fabric was too small and ready for the next fresh baby.
Oh, sweet little sleeping baby on Facebook wearing my daughter’s old pajamas, I felt a lump in my throat when I scrolled past your picture. Your mama and I had some wild days before you joined the world, and now our little ones have all shared the same sleepy, dust anointed flannel and zipper. When you are grown and we are reminiscing, we will dig up snapshots of you all wearing these jammies. It makes me smile and wonder who will wear them next.
Ah, toddler on a mission at playgroup in my little one’s outgrown shoes, you make me long for the days my wild one was slower. As I hold your tiny hand and watch your determined face, I immediately remember the days of our own wobbly new walker, reveling in her new found skill. Just seeing those old shoes again make me want to spend the afternoon watching videos of her first steps.
The best texts are pictures of babies. And this baby girl smiling big with swollen gums and an adorable bow in her wispy hair? I know that bow, but I know her mama’s tired smile even more. I haven’t forgotten those fake-it-’til-you-make-it days (I still have them) when you just have to dress your kid in a cute dress and a pretty bow and make the most of the day. I reply quickly with a bow compliment, and an offer to meet for coffee.
Yes, they are clothes, shoes, baby items, but they really do get into our hearts as a memory marker. So do yourself a favor, mama, pack up a box of your little one’s cast offs, send it on a journey to the next baby, and gift yourself with some sweet sentiments and warm fuzzies.