Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heart in a Box

Y'all, the amount of kid stuff we have accumulated is giving me hives. I don't know what to do with it. And my son isn't even three years old.

I'm not sure that my problem is a problem that very many people have. I mean, we all know that typical American families with kids acquire a lot of stuff, much of it large and plastic and decked out in obnoxiously bright colors. I think we're doing better than most in that regard, actually, because we have very few large-ish toys, and we don't have any area of the house where toys and kid clutter have taken over.

But this isn't a post about clutter or organization. It's more about having perfectly useful and lovely outgrown baby and toddler items that we should either keep or give away, and I can't figure out which to do. I get the sense that most families either (1) keep having kids and therefore keep getting use out of all that kid stuff they've acquired, or, probably more commonly, (2) come to a decided-upon end point for having more children, at which time they divest themselves of the various child-rearing accoutrements.

So what happens to the folks who want more children, when the additional kids just aren't happening? What's a reasonable amount of time to wait before selling/donating/handing off that pricey baby swing, or the stack of bibs, or the mountains of outgrown clothing?

Right now we just keep on accumulating, boxing up the outgrown and praying we need it again. We've been able to lend big items like Nate's bassinet, swing, infant car seat, Bumbo seat, and the like. But, one by one, each item has found its way back into my garage. Those kids, man. They just insist on growing up so quickly.

Letting go of the baby stuff right now feels like giving up hope. Like admitting defeat. Which is ironic, because in most ways I feel far, far more at peace with our situation than I have in a long time.  Truly, I do. And I've jokingly said, more than once, that we'll probably hold onto this stuff for years, finally give up and give it away, and then end up with a surprise miracle pregnancy. Which would be great! We'll take a baby any time! And we'd laugh about God's sense of humor and sense of timing and would rest assured that we really didn't need all that stuff, anyway.

Because, in the end, it really is all just stuff. It's not as if God would withhold another child because we had the gall to sell the Jumperoo. My head knows that fact just fine. But my heart's hope still feels wrapped up in boxes of tiny clothes packed away in the basement.

I'm not ready to let them go just yet.


Angela said...

I had the same issue. We saved all of my son's things in the hopes of having another, but it didn't happen. He turns 6 in September, and just this spring I had a huge garage sale and got rid of all the baby stuff. I just finally got to the point where the items were almost mocking me, so out it went. Plus, some of the items (like car seats) were going to "expire" soon, so if I was going to get rid of them, I needed to do it soon. If getting rid of things is just too painful right now, don't feel bad about waiting. It is a tough situation, and I am so sorry that you have to deal with it.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I went through a fit of bitterness a while ago and gave a lot of stuff away. But I still had enough hope that I kept all the stuff that I really loved, the stuff that I would have been sad if we had the opportunity to use again and I didn't have it. It was actually a pretty good technique, since I got stuff down to a much more manageable level, but we still have the good stuff. Before, I was keeping everything.

And I know. It feels to give things away.

Salome Ellen said...

Well, the old wives' tale is that if you give it all away, you will certainly need it! But I think Jen has the most balanced approach. And it's not just those "hoping" who save things. I still have two big plastic bins of handmade/heirloom stuff, which has always been the wrong season or whatever for my grandchildren. But in the back of the closet it remains.

A'Dell said...

I actually had a reverse version of the problem for a while before Claire was born. When we'd decided to start a family I started buying baby things I found on sale. Gradually, I built up quite the stash of items and every month that went by it just made me madder and madder to SEE IT ALL in the closet.

And I knew that it made sense to start giving it all away as baby gifts to my friends, but I just COULD NOT LET THESE THINGS GO. Just like you, it felt like I was giving up.

It's weird. It's just STUFF. You know it's just STUFF. And's kind of not just stuff.

Elizabeth said...

It feels SO final, doesn't it? Even though of course one can buy more onesies and swings and stuff, it just feels so final. I am not at that point yet where I can give the stuff away, so I am giving us all permission to just sit with it for a bit longer.

claire said...

At first my plan was to keep everything till I had gone through menopause. Then I decided on a compromise. I decided to keep most of the outgrown toys and equipment, but get rid of the clothing. First of all, there's no guarantee that it will be the right season at the right size for a new baby. Secondly, we have very little storage space in my house (closets are a joke), so the only place to store it is the attic or the basement. It might not stay in good condition being stored in those locations, and I would feel horrible if it came out of storage in bad condition when it could have been a blessing to someone else all these years. So, last year I bit the bullet and got rid of it. It was very hard, but I got through it.

Sarah in Ottawa said...

I'm with A'Dell - it's stuff, sure, but it's the hope that the stuff represents. You aren't ready to give up hope yet, and I completely understand.

I'm praying for that miracle baby to come early. xo

Lisa said...

I feel the same way. Now, with our recent adoption of baby boy, I feel more comfortable passing things along to the next user. We won't seek out another adoption...if one comes to us, we wouldn't refuse it. But I'm not going to save stuff on the off chance that that happens. And it feels kind of good to let go like that. I admit that I'm in a unique position, since "openness to life" for us doesn't really include fertility. At least, it hasn't for almost 8 years. And we're OK with that. Now.