Laundry has always been the only chore that I don't actively dislike. And now that the boy clothes in my household outnumber the girl clothes 3 to 1, I actually find doing laundry to be more satisfying than ever.
Before I had a baby, I thought there could be nothing cuter than the tiny little infant clothes that, to my utter amazement, were even too big for my tiny little infant. What could be more precious than these diminutive clothes in soft fabrics and fresh colors, clothes to ease a wee one's transition into the world, clothes made for coziness and comfort?
The socks were small beyond belief. And the hats. How could such a little head contain an entire brain? With their prints of baby animals and their fuzzy linings, baby clothes screamed (in an inside voice), "This is a brand new person! Here is a baby!" These clothes inspired awe and wonder, particularly before the arrival of their future wearers.
Now all our family's baby clothes have been put through the wringer of being worn by two boys, one of whom had a real knack for spitting up and pooping explosively. Only a few particularly precious items remain.
Baby clothes are cute. But they are completely "other." They belong to the time when our children are still a mystery to us, unknowable except for in the most basic sense. True, some people dress their babies in miniature big people clothes, but it always seems rather futile. The poor child's head is half swallowed by a shirt collar because babies don't have necks to speak of, and pants are always riding up somewhere right beneath the armpits because babies have very poor posture.
Toddler clothes are a whole different story. They are the little big clothes. Toddlers run and climb. They like books and and playing games, and they talk and do almost all the other things they will do when they are big, grown people. As I fold baskets of T-shirts the size of washcloths and tiny Levi's and little plaid button-down shirts, I realize that (Lord willing) these are essentially the clothes that my boys will be wearing for the rest of their lives.
As the stacks of folded laundry grow beside me, I think of the memories we have already made in those clothes. I think of how grateful I am that every day, even when I'm not trying, I get to know my children better. And I think of the day when the little big clothes will just be big clothes. That's even harder to wrap my mind around than those tiny little baby socks were.