I've learned that I'm a very visual person. When I travel anywhere, near or far, I rely on landmarks. When I studied for exams, I often relied on remembering what the textbook page or my flashcard looked like in order to recall a term or definition, utilizing my brain like the screen shot feature on my iPhone. My memories are very visual too- glimpses of life, stored like photos stacked in the shoebox of my mind.
Perhaps it's for this reason that I'm having a really, really hard time dressing Etta each morning. Last week, I pulled out all the 12-18 month winter clothes we saved from Tye. Every time I see each handed-down outfit, my mind flips through those photos of Tye wearing it- who gave us the outfit, what we did each time she wore it, where we went in it, how it fit her, even packing the clothes away for Baby Girl 2. After all, it was just one year ago, after we found out we were having another girl, that I sorted through all these clothes that Etta is now wearing.
Partly what's causing me so much heartache is that when Tye wore these clothes, I thought she was so big. One outfit, in particular, I remember Tye wearing one day as we shopped at Costco. (It was this one- a gift from my aunt and cousin.)
She looked so big that day in her jeans and her coat and her little pink Converse AllStars, sitting on her own in the shopping cart. I remember thinking she was my little buddy, like my shopping sidekick. Now, when I see Etta wearing it, I want to cry out, No! You aren't old enough to be my little buddy! You're my little baby!!! And my heart just aches to slow down time.
I realize that my new perspective of age and time is also playing a role in these feelings. When Tye was nine months old, I really did believe she was getting to be "so old" already. After all, she was eating solid food and crawling and babbling and showing off all her play skills. We were rounding the curve into toddlerhood. Now, I see Etta and think she is still so young. And compared to Tye now, at 2 1/2, she is. But Etta is also doing all those almost-toddler things Tye was at this age. While I once thought almost-toddlerhood was quite grown up, my current perspective sees it as oh-so-young. I'm finally understanding how parents unknowingly baby their youngest child. It truly is unintentional. (Well, mostly.)
And so, on a daily basis, I deal with this disconnect between my visual memories of Tye the Big Girl and Etta my Baby wearing these same clothes. I've tied memories to these clothes, and I'm looking forward to adding more photos to the mental stock I've acquired, of course. I'm finding myself grateful to have a family member to hand these clothes down to when we're done. The promise of seeing my niece wearing them some day will make parting with them significantly easier. Otherwise, I don't know how I could part with clothes that are tied to so many memories. They feel like the link between my Baby Big Girl and what will one day, all too soon, be only memories.