I recently parted with the orange car seat that carried both of my tiny baby girls for miles across the planet. I will never forget how little they looked the first time I put them in the seat, or how they screamed after I strapped them in, as if the car seat was a death trap rather than a life saver.
At the same drop, I gave away the Duplos that my husband bought for his 2 year-old son the first Christmas we spent together. I will never forget Emile’s rosy cheeks as he tore through his presents or how in love I was. Now, his 2 year-old son is our 11 year-old son, and the Duplos have been loved by three children.
I left these slivers of my past with SF Smiles, and I walked away. I hesitated. I almost took a picture. I didn’t. I told myself to keep walking, keep driving, go to work, it’s just stuff.
But that car seat was like an extension of myself as a mother. It held my babies when I couldn’t. I kept driving. I let myself cry. I was grateful that I could feel, that I wasn’t numb, that I was releasing and softening into my sadness, rather than tightening around it.
I should have saved the Duplos, I decided. I missed them. Why hadn’t I asked my friends if they wanted a set of Duplos for a couple of years? Why hadn’t I tucked them into a dark corner so I could pull them out the next time a baby comes over? I could have kept them for the next generation. They have a story, family history. Surely, the Duplos spark joy.
And that’s why I gave them away. In hopes that they will spark more joy in another mother, another baby, sooner rather than later, someone who needs them more than anyone I know. Later that day, I checked the SF Smiles Facebook page, and noticed a special request for infant car seats, and toys for the holidays.
So often, we tell ourselves that our emotions are not valid. It’s just stuff. But I felt a palpable sense of loss for that car seat. I’ve given away many baby items without any kind of grief, yet this time, it wasn’t just stuff, it was the car seat’s place in my life. I used that car seat in many tender, vulnerable moments. I took that car seat overseas. I trusted that car seat to protect my delicate infants.
The car seat was symbolic; the Duplos were sentimental. We are easily stuck to things, thoughts, patterns, beliefs, and even people we’ve long outgrown. Taking them off and walking away is uncomfortable. We have to become someone different when we do that.
My friend Christine, who coaches people to create calm in their lives, wrote recently that she also had a good cry when she gave up an extra-special baby item. Our children grow and we mourn their babyhood while rejoicing in their growth. By passing along our baby stuff, we keep the flow of energy moving, we show gratitude for the gifts of the universe by paying them forward, and we perpetuate the faith that we are always provided for.
I got rid of the baby stuff because I’m making room for new things in my basement, but also my life.