The other day I got the urge to clean out the hall closet. When these kind of urges strike, I must abandon all other plans before losing motivation because once I start...I cannot stop. The Gelato Family tends to get a tad nervous when I get in these purging moods; nothing is safe, not too much is sacred and I am usually in a somewhat...aggressive mood because it’s safe to say that the need to purge came from picking up everyone else’s crap all the time. You don’t want to pick it up? Neither do I. Let’s just trash it, shall we?
There I was, happily dumping old towels, random pillowcases, that big, scented bar of soap we all have for no apparent reason, old bottles of medicine, but I stopped in my tracks when I came across a single, oh-so-adorable, brown polka-dotted burp cloth. I had a flashback of the last time I cleaned out this closet and came across the same burp cloth and after much deliberation, decided I could not throw it out. This burp cloth, apparently, is my kryptonite, and I cannot bring myself to put it in a bag made for trash.
I sat down on the floor and gingerly picked up the burp cloth. I held it in my hands, turning it over and over, as if searching for some sign of the life it used to occupy...like a flash of my newborn son would be shown upon it. I am suddenly 7 months pregnant, sitting on a chair at my first baby shower, surrounded by a pile of mysterious things, each item, each little teeny-tiny thing, a symbol of new life, new hope, new expectations. Opening the package of burp cloths, I imagined using them and slinging them over my shoulder and wouldn’t I look oh- so- great with not only the world’s most beautiful child, but also a very stylish burp cloth? Clearly I had this baby thing all figured out.
The life of a burp cloth, however, is not a pretty one. Especially when said beautiful child happens to randomly spit up, oh, hundreds of times a day. By day ten of newborn’s life, it doesn’t really matter if you are cleaning throw up with a fancy burp cloth, your husband's t-shirt that he may or may not be wearing, or that leaf that luckily landed beside you while sitting outside because HOW COULD I FORGET TO PUT A BURP CLOTH IN THIS VERY LARGE DIAPER BAG? It may be shocking, but turns out that having fancy burp cloths, expensive baby clothes or, good Lord, a thousand dollar stroller, actually makes no difference in how much you love your baby or your ability to care for him. In fact, those things can kind of make you look like an asshole sometimes.
I’m not quite sure what it is about this particular baby item that makes my heart beat a little faster. Over the years, I have purged loads of baby clothing, toys, hooded towels, blankets...you just can’t keep everything no matter how it breaks a tiny piece of your heart to throw it out. I guess my brown polka-dotted burp cloth is a survivor, just like I was all those years ago when I had absolutely no idea what motherhood had in store for me. It was there for Son, it was there for Daughter, and it should have a chance to be there for a possible...round three. (Husband just had an anxiety attack reading that sentence.)
So for now, I keep it again. I know that one day it will be put in a box with other treasured baby keepsakes, and when I am feeling time slip by too quickly and say things like, Oh, I remember that age, I will crack open that box and cry. And there will be my burp cloth, waiting to wipe my sentimental, old lady tears away.