Trash or treasure?


I’m torn. Walking the line between sentimentality and realism. With Bo’s first year long behind us, she has grown and changed and developed and left her babyhood behind her. With all of these changes come little markers of emotion for me. Little shoes that no longer fit. Little bonnets. Little tiny hand prints on paper. Little body suits and little toys that her little hand gripped and waved so many months ago.

As I start to clear out her things to make room for the things she now reaches for… as she opens the door to the wonderful world of make believe… I can’t help but wonder. What do I keep? My mother kept everything. Little beautiful clothes and shoes and toys that were once mine, have now been Bo’s. She has literally walked around in clothes that I walked around in so many years ago. She cuddles the same toy in her bed as I cuddled when I was her age. This beautiful gift I want to give to her to, when she has her own baby one day. The gift of shared memory.

But I’m also a big believer in reuse and recycle. Pass things down the line to another family who can use things that we no longer have any use for. I’m trying really hard to consume less (and hoard less)… So what do I keep and what do I donate?  I have beautiful little hand woven booties that used to keep her tiny feet warm, I have our hospital tags and a box full of handwritten letters; letters to Bo, letters to me from her dad, letters that I wrote to him, letters from another time. I have my marriage vows, written on a scrap of paper. I have first ultrasound pictures and birth announcements and cards welcoming her into the world. Everything tucked up in a big old cardboard fruit box, with plenty of space for the firsts (and lasts) yet to come.


What do you tuck away for your little one? Are you a keep everything kind of person? Or are you ruthless with what you get rid of? I’d love to know!


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  • May 29, 2013 - 8:42 am

    Andrea - I’m a keep everything kind of person but since Im living with my mom and other family we don’t have much room and I did have to get rid of some stuff. I’m very sentimental when it comes to my little one’s things no matter how small it is. I went thru his clothes that no longer fit and if I had a vivid memory of him in that piece of clothing I kept. And I’m keeping the toys the he played more with. I also made a shadow box with his homecoming outfit and our hospital tags along with the piece of his umbilical cord. I recently lost a soft monkey that he had since he was born (he’s 15 months) when I went to his dr appt. and I’m so sad about it.i know I lost it for sure but even today I looked around for it:/ I’m gonna start saving his stuff in a box to do it doesn’t get lost anymore.ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2013 - 10:46 am

    endelaney - Although my daughter may grow to be very different than me, I often ask myself what has meant the most to me, from what my mom saved. I appreciate everything but I treasure words and pictures most, so letters, journals and photographs, I hope to organize and consolidate one day soon, before it gets overwhelming. Everything else will probably be given to other families who could use it. Your post was a little inspiration and reminder that I need to get on that soon:)ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2013 - 11:18 am

    Erica - I’ve kept only my favorite outfits and toys of hers and donated the rest. My parents never kept anything of mine, other than a few toys and books, but I really wish they had. I’ll keep the few toys and books that used to be mine so Evita’s future babies can have them too.ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    Lilybett - I’m a little bit of both. I have that inclination towards keeping everything, but then often ruthlessly cull when it hits saturation point. We were lucky to receive a lot of hand-me-downs from close in age cousins and friends so I’ve tried to continue that and pass on clothes especially almost as soon as they stop fitting. I think art and craft is the hardest stuff to make decisions about. What am I keeping his confetti/glitter/straw covered paper bag for? Does it matter that it was his first childcare craft, his first Easter basket? How the hell do I store this thing?ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2013 - 2:49 pm

    Sommer - I toss/donate everything. Photos are stored electronically in an archival file format. I might save a favorite toy or two, but its looking like my LO isnt so into things (thus far), just like her parents. It’s not always easy, and I haven’t always been able to let go. I was like you Sash, total nomad for 13 years after college, living out of one suitcase and loving the lightness of living without possessions. But it was a farce. In actuality I was sending crap home every few months. Journals, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, souvenirs from far corners of the world. When I finally settled and my parents moved my crap to me in a TRUCK, I had 13 years of crap to sort through. Make that 13 nomadic years + college years + childhood + my parents memorabilia of when I was a baby. In the end I donated it all, scanned the uber sentimental at a high res, kept 1 small box of things (clothes and toys) for my yet to be conceived baby. Baby and mortgage is here now and we live minimally. I donate/give away toys/clothes as soon as LO is done. For us, living without attachment to crap feels light. And easier. Full of free time to hang together. LO is more amused by her parents’ antics than any toy (again, for now). I remind myself almost daily that what will make the most impact on her childhood is not what thing I give her but what I give of myself. And how can any one material thing express or represent something as profound as that? I envision her as an emotionally stable adult full of compassion and lover of experiences rather stuff. After all, when we leave this life we take nothing with us, and whatever we leave behind is imbedded in people’s heads and hearts, not some box.ReplyCancel

  • May 29, 2013 - 4:34 pm

    ALittaM - I keep as keepsakes only objects that have an emotional relationship with me. That cute little top. Those shoes she liked to chew on. Her first pacifier.
    But – I also ask my mother to store a fair amount of clothes she no longer wears in a big beg in her wardrobe. These are the clothes that will go “to the next ones” (who knows…).
    Then I lend most of the rest of the stuff to my friends and relatives, knowing that probably I will never see them again,ReplyCancel

  • May 30, 2013 - 4:17 am

    Alexis - I pass on a lot of clothes and toys (although have a problem with shoes, they are generally too worn to donate… So not sure what to do with them). My problem is all the bits of paper, the wristbands and tickets for exhibitions etc. and all the artwork! My daughter gets very offended when she finds her creations in the recycling… But generally i love all the memory aids and I find it hard to throw things away. Had a big clear out last weekend though and finally chucked loads of my collage scrap books from 15 years ago and it actually feels really good!ReplyCancel

  • May 30, 2013 - 10:46 am

    Maxabella - Photos (ultrasounds in particular!) are always treasure to me. The rest I ‘cull’ every other year. It’s surprising how quickly sentimentality fades when something new takes its place, but other things are keepers all the way. xReplyCancel

  • May 30, 2013 - 10:55 am

    Bec | At Penny Lane - I also have many beautiful things that my own mother held on to that my daughter wears and plays with now.
    I think holding on to these special things are important and hold so many memories and stories.
    My mum kept a crate for each of us children and it was slowly filled over the years with special clothing and bits and pieces from our childhood. I love nothing more than looking through my crate now as a grown up. It is so sentimental and brings back many memories and great past times.
    I have now started the same for my children.ReplyCancel

  • May 30, 2013 - 3:57 pm

    ej - This is something I struggle with because we will most likely have another baby, so we don’t want to buy new for the next one but at the same time I hate having mountains of clothes sitting around ( it’s all washed and in space bags) I will pass on the clothes and toys that I never liked or used but everything else I guess will stay stored. But with each growth spurt there is more to store. Where does it stop?ReplyCancel

  • May 30, 2013 - 8:02 pm

    Rebecca - So far I’ve kept everything cause we might have another one in a couple of years. But if I had to give things away, I would maybe only keep a couple of cloths/shoes/toys that I really loved or that were special somehow. My parents didn’t keep anything from my childhood and its no big deal. I enjoy the old photos and their stories.ReplyCancel

  • May 31, 2013 - 2:29 am

    Jess - I’m a little of both… and one of the things I’m least looking forward to before we move overseas is going through my boys’ things and selling/donating most of it. Sigh.ReplyCancel

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