I found myself face to face with a monkey
and I wasn’t sure what to do.
His little patchwork body was sewn to the front of the tiny
blue pajamas that had, only weeks ago, adorned my newborn.
He sat, with his tail curled around him, looking at me.
He and I were eye to eye.
“What am I to do?” I asked, willing him to answer.
The tiny blue monkey pajamas held so many memories:
like the times I would gaze down at my baby boy
and play with his little toes
while he held my finger in his tiny fist.
Giving away the pajamas almost seemed like giving away the memories.
How could I bear to do it?
Rewind, three days earlier.
I held my 5-year-old daughter in the rocking chair
and rocked her as if she were a baby.
“Please don’t grow up,” I begged her.
“I want you to stay little forever!”
With defiance in her voice, she said, “No! I AM going to grow up!”
“But don’t you remember how fun it is to be little?” I countered.
“Remember the time you dumped a whole bowl of blueberries on your head? And the time I chased you around the living room table…”
And on and on and on.
We recounted cherished memories as we slowly rocked back and forth.
“Okay, mommy, I’ll stay little,” she finally said.
I smiled a sad little smile, knowing it could never be so.
Returning to the present moment, I felt the piercing eyes of the monkey.
Slowly, I folded the pajamas and laid them in the baby’s clothes pile,
unable to give them up quite yet.
A father was once asked, “What is your favorite childhood phase?
Do you enjoy babies, toddlers, or teenagers most?”
His response was that he enjoys whatever phase the child is currently in.
What? No, sadness over past memories?
No, fear over what tomorrow may bring?
As I pondered his response
I realized I had found my answer.
Giving away outgrown pajamas does not make one lose one’s memories.
My memories have been securely tucked away
in photo albums,
on journal pages,
and into a small corner of my heart.
They can be easily retrieved at a moment’s notice.
I look at my baby.
He is in a new pair of pajamas now.
A size larger.
His narrow body has turned plump.
His expressionless gaze is gone,
replaced with twinkling eyes,
an open-mouthed smile,
and a tiny little giggle that will,
any day now,
turn into a hearty laugh.
He is growing and changing each day
and I don’t want to miss a minute of it
by mourning the passing of time.
I look at my daughter.
She is playing with her dollies and little sister
and is “pretending to be the mommy” (in her own words).
Many more memories are in the making today
and I refuse to miss them out of fear of what the future may hold.
Yes, my daughter will continue to grow.
One day she will be a real mommy.
There are things she needs to learn before that happens.
That is my job—to take the time to teach her.
“Come on girls, let’s whip up a batch of cookies,” I called,
as I carefully moved the little blue pajamas to the “give-away” box.
“We have much to celebrate!”