Baby, Motherhood

Keepsakes, memories and relentless hoarding

Whilst I’ll admit that I’ve always been a bit of a sentimental old sap, I wasn’t really a ‘collector of things’. I’ve never been one to keep stuff for the sake of it. If I no longer had use for an item then it was usually given to a charity shop or thrown out. I didn’t believe in holding on to things to gather dust and take up space. But now, nothing could be further from the truth, I’ve changed. I’m trying to avoid the ‘H’ word as it has such negative connotations (Thanks, Channel 4!) but since having Jasmine, I’ve become a hoarder.

OK, so I’m not exactly filling a shopping trolley with plastic bags and tin cans every day but I am having real trouble letting go of stuff. Physical objects. I want to keep them and hold them and reminisce forever.

Any parent will know just how fast babies and children grow up and it’s something you don’t fully appreciate until their in your lives. Outgrowing clothes, physically changing and reaching new milestones, all in the blink of an eye. It’s terrifying! I feel sad every time I vaccuum pack another batch of Jasmine’s outgrown clothes. I watch as the plastic around them shrivels up and I get a little teary-eyed. By the end of the process I feel as deflated as they now look.

Why can’t she stay tiny forever?

I’ll usually justify keeping all of Jasmine’s stuff “for baby number two” but I know that deep down, that’s not the real reason I’m doing it. I often feel like memories alone aren’t enough. I want to be able to hold a tiny sleepsuit in my hands and marvel at just how small my little girl once was. Do I need to keep all of her sleepsuits in order to do that? No, just the one would do, but then which one would I keep? I love them all.

So I keep them.

All of them.

I have a pair of navy joggers that I pretty much lived in throughout my pregnancy. I wore them to all of my antenatal classes and I even wore them during most of my labour. It’s fair to say that they are looking extremely tired and ‘well loved’. Ordinarily, when an item of clothing reaches this point I’d usually bin it without a second thought, but not the joggers. They represent my pregnancy, from my tiny bump to my basketball belly. And I simply cannot just throw them out!

I recently bought a large metal keepsake tin specifically for those baby items that I want to hold on to forever – those titchy hospital identity tags, the countless pink ‘New baby’ cards we were sent and dozens upon dozens of photographs. It still doesn’t seem enough, I’m not content with a box containing just a few key items. I want to keep it all. That’s not realistic though, is it?

What I am starting to realise is that I can’t keep this up forever. Jasmine is only 4 months old and our house is getting full. I need to focus on holding on to the things that can’t be kept in a tin. I should savour those cuddles, smiles and the way she grabs on to my hands with her tiny little fingers. I should soak it all up and park those memories in my brain, a designated area of my grey matter reserved just for her, my girl. In years to come those moments may seem a little hazy but they will still be there and I have to trust that they will be enough.

I need to start collecting moments, not things.

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