Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Recent Experiences as a Clothes Horse: Bad Luck or a Reminder from the Universe?

The past few days I have had many thoughts of clothes. Yes, clothes. We've had an influx of clothes for Noah lately - from his birthday, my husband's finds in Uncle Henry's (the local swap-and-sell guide), and a friend who gave us bags of hand-me-down boys clothes when she found out that her baby-to-be is a girl. So I've been washing and folding, sorting and refolding tiny little rompers, Hawaiian shirts, sweaters, bucket hats, and many other wonderful and precious pieces that he'll be able to wear in the coming couple of years.

I used to think I would keep all his outfits, because they were all so sweet and tiny and wonderful. Now as they overflow his bureaus and lie in piles on the twin bed we set up in his bedroom, it is becoming more of a blur in which just a few pieces stand out as being favorites. And even these just pale in comparison to the adorableness of the boy himself, so I've found myself wondering how long we'll hang on to these things. These precious things.

Some of my ability to anticipate letting go of probably most of his baby clothes has come from my own recent experiences with precious frocks. After Noah was born, I packed up my maternity clothes into a large trash bag and stowed it in the trunk of my car to loan to a friend who was pregnant. That weekend, my husband and stepson went to the transfer station (the dump) in my car and mistook the bag for trash, throwing it into the hopper along with the scraps from the previous night's meal. I looked in my car a few days later and noticed the bag was gone, but assumed Matthew had taken it out of my trunk. I asked him that night, and cried when it became clear what had happened. He was mortified, so I ended up feeling badly for him and moving on quickly to the mindset that it was just clothing. Just clothing. I had that special time, and have pictures of it, and now of course the baby. It's just clothing.

Then this spring when I was cleaning out my closet, I slid my wedding dress out and unzipped the garment bag to take a look. To my horror, I discovered that the bag had stained my dress. I took it to the dry cleaner immediately and their best efforts could not remove the stains, and made the silk dangerously weak in spots. The dress was ruined. I am pursuing a complaint against the store that sold me the garment bag, but am not hopeful this will yield satisfaction. Even if by some miracle I could squeeze some money out of this huge corporation, I couldn't replace the dress. So what could I do? Be sad, but again, tell myself, it's just clothing. Just clothing. I had the wedding, and have the pictures, and the husband. It's just clothing.

Dave Ramsey, author of the book The Total Money Makeover, talks about "stuffitis" and how it can lead to financial woes when we think buying things will make us happier, more peaceful, more satisfied with life, and we end up broke and stressed out instead. I think it also leads to more general emotional and spiritual woe, when objects and stuff start to take the place of actual experiences, moments in time that come and go, and need to be replaced by next moments. While heirlooms seem a different sort of category than perhaps other sorts of things that accumulate uncomfortably, I still think that my wedding dress, and maternity clothes, and Noah's precious newborn onesies can only speak hearsay about those special fleeting times. They don't hold something better than what is inside me or Noah for having lived through those moments so prettily dressed.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dumber, But Still as Stubborn

All day today I've been thinking about my 20th high school reunion, which is tonight. I've been trying to decide what I will wear (how to look hip and still be able to breastfeed at a moment's notice), whether I'll put my hair up or leave it down (neither mattering to me as much as the fact that I have a lot of gray), and what it will be like to see friends, especially my closest high school poet friend Amy whom I haven't heard from almost since we graduated. I'm excited to bring Noah, who just turned 1 last week, and Matthew my husband, and hope that other folks have found as much joy in their lives as I have. All in all, I've got a mix of positive anticipation, and dread. My usual emotions before going to an event with lots of people, ramped up by the fact that this is revisiting the past and who knows what these lots of people will be like now.

So a few hours ago I went online to see who else had signed up to come to the reunion, and saw that it is actually next Saturday, not tonight. I looked at the screen and re-read the webpage several times, not believing that I had the date wrong. I then went and checked the flyer, still thinking that I was right about it being tonight and the website had a serious typo. The flyer said it is next week too. I think I went into shock briefly. I walked into the living room and said to Matthew, "The reunion. It's not tonight. It's next week. I don't know what the hell is going on with me." He commented that the way I was driving earlier in the day was pretty bad too - I couldn't remember where the highway exit was, even though I've driven by it every day for the last two years. I guess I was relieved enough that I didn't have to go tonight that I found this more humorous than insulting. On another day I might have unleashed the hounds on him.

The last couple of months I have referred to myself as having "Mommy Brain", but this is the first time I've gotten mixed up about something of any real importance to me. Usually it's just not remembering the name of something or someone while in a conversation. But this afternoon if I hadn't gone online, we would have gotten dressed up and gone over there only to find ourselves all alone in the parking lot of a country club of which we are not members.

So does being a mother mean that whole brain cells become co-opted or flat out call it quits? My dad said to me recently that even though I was feeling like I had half a brain, that half still probably works better than many other people's. He's my dad, so he has to say that, but it still felt good to hear. I'm fortunate that others in my life have also offered me validation that I still can be rational, even while in a swirl of parenting a baby. On my last day of work a few weeks ago, the Office Manager who is famous for re-writing well known songs with personalized lyrics sang me a tune from The Wizard of Oz that went "If I only had a Kate's." That is not to say that I think I'm all that, but I do greatly enjoy and constantly practice organizing things, schedules, systems, spaces, and people. I would hate to see this go. It brings me peace to sort a junk drawer, or to spell out my schedule a month in advance. It feels right. Which is why getting a date wrong rocks my boat. One mistake like this can only lead to others, and to chaos.

And so my by brain, quickly accelerating to avoid this possibility, jumped from shock at our need to change our plans into the thought, "This happened so that you would have something to blog about, you've been neglecting your blog for the past several weeks, and this would be a compact story, sort of humorous, sort of insightful, sort of stupid, kind of like where you're at right now. Share the wealth!" Ahhh, lemons into pleasing tarts, lined up in rows. Makes things right again. Have a bite with me?