thankful for the mess

When I became a mom for the first time, I felt like I was prepared.  Of course, there would be some surprises, but I consider myself a fairly laid-back person, and I knew that I would be able to deal with the transition smoothly.  And overall, I think I did. But one thing that I did not realize when I became a mommy? How much time I would spend sorting clothes!!!

I know what you’re thinking.  Of all the things in mommyhood to complain about, I’m choosing the clothes-sorting?  Well, the truth is I’m not really complaining.  In fact, I am very grateful for the fact that my children have clothes (an abundance, in fact) to wear each day and to keep them warm throughout the cold Iowa winters.  This month, a lot of mommy bloggers have been posting recently about ways to teach our children the gift of giving at the holidays, and one way is to donate their (gently) used clothing and toys.  I have started this process with my boys by first teaching them how much we have to be grateful for—all of their endless toys and clothes—and then teaching them the importance of sharing and passing these things along to those in need.

But, back to the sorting…I guess the point I’m trying to make is that, although very grateful for all of the hand-me-downs and garage-sale bargains that my children receive, I am feeling like I’m never going to see the end of these piles that are mounting up around my house!  In an effort to A) find un-needed items to donate this year and B) prepare our guest room and guest bathroom for our good friends who are coming to stay next week, I have started a task that is beginning to look quite daunting to me.  (In other words…if any of you lovely mommies have any free time in the next 6 days before our friends arrive, please message me for my address and I will gladly accept your help!).

There is a method to my pile-making madness.  The problem is A) no one else in this house understands my method, and B) my children see any pile of anything laying around as something to jump in, stand on, and throw around at each other.  For this reason, as soon as I get a stack of items sorted, I need to act quickly to get it into one of the respective totes, bags, baskets, etc.  My current categories include:

A)     Clothes that are too small for Sam (my 4 year old), but too big for Cooper (my 2 ½ year old)…these go to the attic.

B)      Clothes that are too small for Cooper (ready to donate, because our youngest is a girl)

C)      Clothes that are too small for Nora (yes, at 3 months, she already has quite a stack! These have been further sorted into items for my friend Laura’s baby girl and items to donate)

D)     Clothes that are too big for Nora.  We have gone a little overboard at garage sales (ha!), as well as received an entire tote from a cousin…more boxes for the attic.

E)      Clothes that are too small for all three of my children but I can’t part with them. We all have these, don’t we? With three little ones, I already have an entire tote full of clothes that just carry too many memories for me to let them go.  (So, just in case I go AWOL in about 10 years from now, you will know where to find me.  In my attic, with a tub of ice cream, a tote full of little tiny clothes, an a stack of used Kleenexes.)

Add into the mix the fact that each size of clothing includes both cold weather and warm weather items, and my boys were born in different months (May and August…which may seem close enough for them to be in the same season, but mind you Sam was 10 pounds and Cooper was not even 7), and it’s enough to make me lose face.  Not to mention the fact that I’m 3 months post-baby and in the process of sorting through my own clothes too!  I won’t lie; my husband has found me in tears in the middle of these mounds of clothing on more than one occasion.  (Side note:  the ridiculous mound of pajamas are hand-me-downs from their cousin Bruno out in Boston; seriously, Aunt Kathy, did your son wear a different pair of pajama pants every day for the first five years of his life? –insert smiley face here-)

As I write this post, I am thankfully beginning to see the light at the end of this clothing-filled tunnel. The piles you see in these pictures have become significantly smaller (some are even gone!), and last night my wonderful husband lugged 8 or 10 (I didn’t count) totes up to the attic.  We have a respectable stack of items to donate, I have already taken one box to Little Hearts Children’s Pantry (my friend started this, a great service for families in need in our area!), and after Laura comes tonight to get baby bee’s stuff, I might be able to see what color my carpet is.  Heck, our friends from Denver might even be able to find their bed in the guest bedroom!

In the end, after all of my petty complaining, the truth is this:  in a world where many around us (and not just on other continents, but down the street from our own homes) would be happy to just have a warm place to sleep this holiday season, I pray not only that my children grow to learn how incredibly lucky they are in this life, but also that they live with a desire to make this world a better place for as many as they can.

A special thank you to all of those who have lovingly passed along their own children’s clothing to my little ones, and to those who have bought (at stores and garage sales) the things that my children wear, play with, and sleep in every day.  We are so, so lucky.


What tasks are you mommies tackling that could perhaps be done with a new (better) attitude?  Let’s all put on our “thankful goggles” and look at life from a different point of view!

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3 Responses to thankful for the mess

  1. amandastclair November 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    Oh, yes! I have the mess. I go through the same things with my kids. Two boys and twin girls, lots of clothes to sort and store. I commend you for your progress. I usually get tired or frustrated half way through (because the kids are soooooo helpful)and throw them (the clothes, not the kids ;p) back in the totes and stash them away…but then I just procrastinate getting it finished. Keep at it! Looks like you are doing a wonderful job…and I would love to come and help but I’m buried. lol.
    I used to save favorite clothes…but I finally was able to let go. I’m not sure how I did it…I think I just took lots of pictures and that helped. But I’m lying if I say I got rid of all of them, because there are a few that I store in my cedar chest…but I have a rule- that’s my only storage/stash away place for my keepsakes like that. And to add more, I have to get rid of something….everything must fit into that one spot. It helps.
    Wishing you lots of luck!

  2. Emily November 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Great post, Sara! Laundry/clothes is the bane of my mommyhood! The sorting is never-ending, but I’ve been at it lately, too. It feels great when you can purge & pass along…so many have gifted and handed down to us, it’s nice to continue that. And I had to laugh at the “eating ice cream in the attic” comment – I totally understand!
    You’re not alone…especially with the changing seasons, it’s just a never-ending “battle!” We’ve made progress though…Asher will now throw his own dirty clothes into the hamper. Now…how do I train him to stop jumping in the piles (like yours!) and crashing into the folded laundry?!

    • Sara November 14, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      thanks, emily. sorry but i have NO advice on how to keep them out of the piles of laundry! if you figure it out, please tell me asap. until then, happy sorting!

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