The Jacket Stays

I am the polar opposite of a hoarder. Clutter gives me anxiety and I rarely have a hard time letting go of things – especially if I have not used them recently. Oh, sure – I will keep items that may come in handy or have a possible use in the near future. However, I just feel better when things have homes they belong in, and my house is not overgrown in trinkets or random useless items. If I love it, I keep it. If not, it gets donated, recycled, or chucked.

Imagine my surprise this week when I totally LOST it over my toddler’s holey, hand-me-down, old winter jacket. Having two boys, I made sure to keep winter jackets and clothing that was not worn out. My youngest has a plethora of clothing thanks to his stylish, spoiled older brother’s hand me downs. I count this as a parenting win and frequently pat myself on the back for having had the foresight to preserve as much as possible in the off-chance we were able to have once more kiddo. It has paid off handsomely and we get lots of use out of barely worn outfits.

Earlier this week I was zipping up my toddler’s 3T jacket and noticed a giant hole in the armpit. Sighing, I thought that he must have a couple of 4T in the wings ready to take over. After rounding the troops onto the bus, I pulled out the winter coat bins. Yep! Two winter jackets in the wings, plus the 5 dollar awesome new one I bought at Goodwill last weekend. SCORE! We were covered for winter!

And then it happened. As I went to toss the old coat, my fingers hesitated and seemed to disconnect from my brain. My eyes grew misty and I felt overwhelmed by a wave of emotion. I vividly remember my oldest wearing this same jacket as we took him “sledding” down the small rolling hills in Deicke park. I remember him saying, “I like the boo one Momma” when we picked out the pretty blue at the store. I remember my youngest looking so cute, just like a mini version of his big brother, proudly donning his new jacket this time last year. AND I COULD NOT THROW AWAY THIS JACKET. Literally. I tried, it didn’t work. I cried and laid it on the counter.

When Dave got home from work later that morning, I asked him to do it for me. He did, and that was the end of it. Until the next morning.

As I was again herding the cattle – er, kids – out the door to the bus stop, I saw the corner of the jacket sticking out of the recycling bin. And do you know what I did? I pulled it out. Laid it on top. Went to the bus stop. And left it there. WHAT?! Dave got home again later that same day and asked incredulously, “Um… honey… Did you take the jacket out of the garbage?” I burst into tears, “Yeeeesssssss, I need help. I know I am a psychopath but you can’t throw it away just yet. I’m just not ready! I can’t do it!” Pretty sure he thought I had lost my ever lovin’ mind, especially given the joy I usually derive from ridding this family of all things grown out of.

I don’t know, guys. It’s nuts. Stupid. Silly. This jacket is worn and has a big old hole in the armpit. But it was worn by my BABIES. MY babies. It was OUR jacket. I feel their baby and toddler years slipping further and further away. I have written about this previously, it’s nothing new. A Quiet House, Leave The Light On, No Matter What. But the hardest thing about parenting is learning to let them go after you give them their roots. These kids are growing their wings and I can feel them fluttering about at my side. It’s wonderful and horrifying, satisfying and gut wrenching, sometimes all at once.

I’m just not ready to let this jacket go.

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