As Autumn grows older, I have had no trouble getting rid of certain things. Clothes were quickly passed on or donated, saving only a few favorites in her “special box” like her first onesie or a knit hat. We said goodbye to the baby food maker and moved her from a crib to a toddler bed this past weekend.
But now we have reached a point where she has outgrown some of her toys – toys that have been in our house since Theo was a baby. Toys that were thoughtful gifts, or have been so well loved by all three of my babies that played with them.
I know that I want to save a few, for grandchildren someday, but know that the number I should save is far fewer than the number of toys I adore. We have some beautiful soft blocks, meant for a young baby’s hands, but the fabric would likely not hold up well over decades of storage. Or larger toys, simply not practical to store.
Much as it pains me to part with these toys, I also value the space in our house and know that they have to go. Of course, my mind wandered to the fact that Nelle would be nearly three and a half by now, and these toys should have already been gone from the house, if she had lived. I would have hit this “stage” sooner.
Or, I also have been thinking about the finality of everything. When I was pregnant with Nelle, we had not completely written into stone that she would be our last child. The idea of a fourth child was something that we toyed with like “well maybe, let’s leave it open for discussion.” After she died and I became pregnant with Iris, we never even thought that far ahead again, it was “let’s just get through this.” And then we didn’t.
When I became pregnant with Autumn it was “This is it. Absolutely. We are NOT doing this again, no matter what the outcome.” The anxiety was unbearable.
And now I am faced with “And she is the last.” The smallest of infant toys will never be needed again. Even some of the toddler toys she has outgrown, moving into more “pretend play” and away from the basics of toys that simply light up or make sounds.
I was lamenting to a friend of mine when she gave me a solution that was so simple: take a photo.
I am not sure why this did not occur to me, because I take photos of EVERYTHING. Kid artwork? I take a photo and toss it. I have a separate Instagram account dedicated only to kid artwork, and then I have it hooked up to Chatbooks, which sends me a beautiful little printed book of their artwork when I reach 60 photos.
I immediately did the same for our “memories.” I set up a new, private Instagram account. And I thought – why stop there? We are going to be replacing our couch in a few weeks – a couch that we have owned since before Theo was born; the first couch we bought together as a young married couple. It has seen abuse, cat hair, vomit, and snuggles – well loved to the bones. Why not take a photo of the couch, caption it with a story about how we picked it out, and preserve the memory to look back on someday?
As Marie Kondo said, “If you are letting go of an item, giving thanks is also a way of properly saying goodbye, so that you can mark the end of your relationship with the item and release it without guilt. It’s a way to recognize your relationship with your possessions.”