Parenting: the art of forgetting selectively

Why do baby clothes have to be so stupidly adorable?

I pondered this as I started to go through the first of six bin bags of clothes the Popple had outgrown. The little animals on the bums of little onesies. The teeny tiny hats. The doll-like dresses. They were too stinkin’ cute and it wasn’t fair, because I needed to get rid of most of them.

I blame our small(ish) flat. Our bedroom closet (pretty much the only storage space in the flat) was almost entirely full of clothes that the Popple had outgrown. Every time I opened it, I was faced with a growing avalanche of bin bags.

We needed to do something about it.

“But what if you have another baby?” people asked when I mentioned Operation Baby Clothes Clean-Out. And we might have another baby – but we might not. Or we might have another baby but not for another five years, and we can’t spend the next five years accumulating piles of Popple clothes. Our flat would be stuffed to the ceiling with little tights stained with spaghetti bolognese and cat-print pyjamas. So we made a plan:

  • Get a big plastic tub.
  • Sort through all the baby stuff and choose our favourite items to go into said tub.
  • Donate the rest to Birth, Baby & Beyond, the amazing Glasgow-based charity that puts together baby starter packs for underprivileged families.
  • Look at the back of our closet for the first time in over a year.

As we went through the clothes, we discovered something surprising – everything that we picked up had good memories associated with it. Especially the newborn stuff. We both know that the newborn weeks/months were super hard. We barely slept. My boobs were killing me. The Popple cried non-stop, and I was basically terrified of her. But all that went away when I saw a little pair of lavender trousers with BEAR FACES ON THE FEET.

Yawning Popple in a carrycot wearing a white hat with bear ears, lavender trousers with bear feet, and a white top with purple flowers
And a BEAR HAT.

We pulled out the zebra-striped sleepsuit she wore in hospital after she was born, the giant snowsuit that made the tiny Popple look even tinier, and a shirt and trouser set decorated with vegetables, the first outfit that Adrian picked out for her himself. The lump in my throat grew bigger with each item.

“This must be why people have more than one baby,” I said to Adrian. Because on the face of it, having more than one baby is insane. They are wonderful little things, but good God, they are hard work. No mother with a newborn semi-permanently attached to her boob who hasn’t slept in weeks thinks and is covered in spit-up thinks, “You know what I want to do again? This.”

But here’s the secret to the growing human population: we forget.

It’s a weird kind of forgetting, because we don’t exactly deny that the bad stuff happened. We know the baby didn’t sleep through the night for a full year. We know they screamed from 6pm-11pm every night like clockwork for three months. We know they regularly peed all over themselves when we changed them. But it feels distant somehow, like it happened to someone else.

Even our memories of labour, the worst pain that many of us had ever experienced, fade away. I know that I was convinced that my labour was going to kill me, but I can’t remember how it felt, exactly. Bad, I’m sure, but not so bad that I wouldn’t consider doing it again. Maybe. In theory.

Right now, my life is full enough with a Popple and a cat to look after, plus a husband, an almost full-time job and an almost full-time hobby (thank you, blog, you time-thieving bastard). But you never know – maybe someday I’ll be glad I kept those bear-face trousers.

16 Replies to “Parenting: the art of forgetting selectively”

  1. He he! This is very true… I think though that when you have an almost 2 year old who doesn’t sleep through the night and doesn’t eat the forgetting gets somewhat harder! Labour definitely didn’t put me off having a second… the sleep deprivation? Oh yep that’ll do it!! 😂

  2. I don’t know, I loved the newborn stage! I definitely want another… I think it’s one of those things though, it depends what you’ve always ‘planned’ – we both always said we hoped for a big family and wanted 2 fairly close together and we’d still like that. I feel like I can remember quite a lot about labour and it was fucking terrible but I also think a lot of the things that were difficult about it were circumstantial so perhaps it’d be better next time?! Ha I’m an incurable optimist.

    Those bear feet and that hat. MELTING ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  3. I wanted another one almost straight away. Well, once I started feeling vaguely human again anyway, which must have been at least six months in. I think that was because I knew it wasn’t likely to happen though, and I think when you can’t have something you end up wanting it more. I still wouldn’t have kept the clothes though. Feels too much like tempting fate!

  4. themotherhub.ie says: Reply

    Its so true – I have two kids and I absolutely dont want any more – but when I see a teeny tiny little baby awwww my heart does melt. (but then I remind myself of sleep and poo and crying and money and I quickly remember!) #stayclassymama

  5. I was glad I was able to mostly forget just enough to have two, but I am so done now. I can’t forget anymore, it’s like my brain decided ‘yeah, pregnancy and labour don’t actually agree with us, in fact, they are not good for us at all, so let’s remember that this time so we don’t try again, m’kay?’ haha x #stayclassymama

  6. Love it, we’ve just had our 2nd child (well 12 weeks ago) and the cute clothes are just too much. Its prob one of the best parts of having a 2nd child right now (ha im kidding) #ablogginggoodtime

  7. Be careful, it’s a trap! I find the same thing looking back at pictures. Its easy to forget that they only stay that size for about a minute and a half #blogginggoodtime

  8. Oh my 4 have worn those cutsies over and over again! I just can’t help myself. What about my grandchildren one day? They might want them too 🙂 #fortheloveofblog

  9. Hahaha!! I certainly forgot second time around. Third time round however…trust me…I am in no form of denial whatsoever. I am batting down the hatches, preparing for the storms ahead… (Would you like to take my cat too?) #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. Ah I was doing the exact same thing the other day. I was sorting out my daughter’s clothes, I’ve decided to keep them. But there are tons and like you I have no where to put them. Currently they are in a pile in our room, along with a pile of my clothes that I need to take to charity which have been there for about 1 year (argh!). It’s funny how we get attached to things, and how we forget the bad times. Weirdly sometimes I actually want to go through it all again, to relive the sleepless nights but only for 1 night. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  11. Time seems to have this habit of dimming the feeling so we forget. I remember the midwife looking at me at one point during labour with my second son and saying; ‘You’ve just remembered the pain haven’t you!’ She was right and I was terrified. But I do still have a box with first shoes, little hats etc despite not being a hoarder! Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT Great post! 🌟

  12. Totally agree – who knows what might happen in the future? I’ve kept some things but not all of it. Either the sentimental stuff or the really nice stuff. I chucked all basic baby grows/ bibs that kind of thing. That is such a lovely sleepy photo of her! #stayclassymama

  13. I have so many items that I just refuse to give up and prob wouldnt put on a new baby either just because they all mean something to do with alyssa. its good to clear out and donate too… my newborn niece is wearing a lot of familiar pieces!
    thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime #triballove

  14. So so so so true. Those hats make my heart melt. I should do this. I should not walk through tunnels of baby bins.

  15. So so so so true. Those hats make my heart melt. I should do this. I should not walk through tunnels of baby bins.

  16. We thankfully have my mother-in-laws basement which is filled to the brim with almost everything we own, including all those adorable things which we did reuse on little. Meltable clothes for meltable kids. #Ablogginggoodtime

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