Today I stood in line at the post office with a box under my arm. It was a box filled with memories and softness and more than a little anxiety. It was a box of Ethan's 0-3 months clothes. And I was mailing them 3000 miles away from me, to a family member who recently had a baby.
This wasn't their first time out in the world, away from us. We lent them to friends of ours in the DC area right before we moved to Los Angeles in '08 and I was honestly not sure I'd ever see them again, and it didn't matter so much. When I had my next baby, I'd probably want to buy new things, anyway, and what if it was a girl? All of Ethan's stuff is blue; I'd need new things, one way or the other. So when I got the clothing in the mail one day, after our friend's little boy had grown out of them, I thought, "oy, what am I going to do with these now? Another box to store."
I stood in line at the post office today with those same clothes, an entirely different woman. Looking at an entirely different future. There will be no next baby to buy new clothes for. No concern over pink instead of blue. I was simply mailing my only child's baby clothes away from me. I spent a lot of time in line looking at the ceiling, making use of the yoga breathing I've become reacquainted with recently, silently scolding myself not to be crazy-cries-in-line-at-the-post-office lady. I had to will myself not to grip the box tighter as the postal worker took it from me. I got back to my car before the sobbing started, so that's good, right? Avoided hairy-eyeballs from the people who control the mail (but I will probably still get packages for the woman who lives on the next street over).
Don't get me wrong; I'm glad to be able to share the clothes, and honestly, to free up the space in my *almost* clean garage. It's not the clothes (well, it's kind of the clothes); it's what they represent. That sweet newborn/baby time I'll never experience again. Most days I think I'm fine with it. And then other days I wonder if I am lying to myself with my list of "all the reasons it's great not to have more than one child!!!!!!" When Ethan tests my patience, I think, "oh, so glad there's only one; I don't have the patience for this again." And when he is making me laugh or hugging me or discovering something new, or sleeping peacefully, my world catches in my chest and I think "I can't believe I don't get to do this again."
I foolishly thought making the decision to stop trying to have another baby would someone cut off the blood supply to the "I want another baby" part of my brain and heart. And that I could just pick up from that failed part of my life and move on. I realized today, it's just not that simple.