I am an oldest child, so I have never known what wearing hand-me-downs feels like. Growing up, they carried a negative connation, and I was thankful for the birth order in my family. Wear someone else’s stain ridden clothes? No thanks. Hand-me downs-conjure up the image of just that:: stained, pilled, and likely out-of-style clothing. Not to mention their fit might be questionable.
However, when I became a parent, hand-me-downs took on a whole new meaning. Kids grow quickly and dressing them is expensive. As my first child outgrew her articles of clothing, I eagerly stored them away envisioning all the money that I would be saving once these items could be worn again. No, hand-me-downs weren’t terrible; in fact, they were efficient and affordable.
Loss and New Beginnings
Well, those baby clothes stayed stored longer than I anticipated. We soon found ourselves wading through the waters of secondary infertility and experienced the pain of multiple miscarriages. During this time, I realized that I was all too eager to leave the baby stage with my firstborn. My transition into motherhood turned my world upside down, and in turn, it took me awhile to find my footing. Meanwhile, my daughter was only getting bigger. Eventually my thoughts and energy focused on growing our family, and I felt like my gaze was fixed on the future. I was paralyzed by the fear of more loss, yet continuing to miss the moments with my daughter as she played at my feet.
Eventually, our prayers were answered, and we welcomed our second born, a sweet son, into our family. Those baby clothes would remain in the attic, this time due to gender differences. There were a few things they could share though, one of them being their sleep sacks. If your family is like mine, the search for the swaddle transition blanket is a big one, and once you find something that works, you feel practically married to it. Eventually we found the one for us and purchased them in all sizes and in all manner of robust floral patterns. Well again, raising children is expensive, so despite the gender differences, I saw no reason why my son couldn’t wear her floral sleep sack. He was just sleeping in it. In fact, he might not even like it, so there was little sense in buying one covered with airplanes until we knew if it would work for him. However, we hoped he would like it, because again, our loyalty ran deep with this particular swaddle sack. So, my son wore those blue and pink rosettes to bed.
Transported Back in Time
One day, he awoke early from his nap, and I knew he still had some more “sleep” in him. I picked him up, sat on our couch and held him while he slept. It was the same couch I sat on while I held his big sister when she was a baby. He was wearing her floral sleep sack. And in that moment, I learned something else about hand-me-downs:: They are magical. I felt transported back in time, in that hand-me-down gown he looked identical to his older sister and my heart ached with joy.
I often longed to go back and hold our firstborn one more time. To remember what those days were like because I had been guilty of wishing them away. Eventually, I became so focused on this mythical “future family” of ours that I failed to enjoy the one that I had been given. I felt myself doing this and was filled with regret. We encountered our first miscarriage before her first birthday, and I felt like so much was stolen from us with that loss, namely my ability to be present with her. I would have loved a chance to revisit one of my daughters newborn days, knowing what I know now, And in that moment, with my son, our hand-me-down clothes afforded me a glimpse of that season.
The Gift of Hand-Me-Downs
I felt like I was holding her, and memories of our days figuring out motherhood together came flooding back. The only thing missing was the noise of Gilmore Girls in the background. As I held my son, I was also filled with thankfulness for his life and for this new perspective I had. I knew he would soon outgrow this floral gown just like his sister had, but I vowed to not wish for this season to pass. To soak it up for all that it is, sleepless nights and all. I am so thankful for hand-me-down clothes; they are more than stain-ridden and outdated. They are a gift, and sometimes they afford you the ability to time travel. To remember days past, and in turn, affect how we live out our present. So here’s to storing more baby clothes in the attic, not just to save money, but to relive sweet memories of the children who wore them first.
Do you have any favorite hand-me-down outfits worn by your children?
About Bridget A.
Bridget is a Houston native, and former educator turned Stay at Home Mom. Married to her college sweetheart, she and her husband count it a privilege to raise the two children entrusted to them. Bridget is a lover of all things home decor, reading, and exercising. Her family is actively involved her their church and are passionate about their faith. As an Enneagram 4, Bridget is a lover of deep conversations, particularly over chips and salsa. To read more of her thoughts on motherhood, life and everything in between, visit her blog at bridgetazzam.com