An eighteenth century playwright said “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Apparently he never had a face-off with a mom in the midst of transitioning clothing from one season to the next.
Before I go any further, I know someone out there is going to be thinking “What an ingrate. Do you know how many people would love to have one piece of clothing much less many articles? Doesn’t she understand how good she has it?”
So, before I get reader responses that point me towards gratitude or ask me to put myself in the shoes of someone in a third world country, please know that I am so grateful. So. Grateful. Thankful to have multiple outfits from which to select when dressing my kids each morning. Grateful for four kids that I get to dress each morning. Thankful for closets in which to house the clothes. Appliances in which to wash and dry the clothes. Thankful for the food we eat that gets spilled on the clothes and thankful for healthy bodies that rip holes in the clothes. Thankful, thankful, thankful. But if we can please move beyond the thankfulness back to my annoyance, I would certainly appreciate it. I kid, I kid.
But seriously…..back to my annoyance.
I’ve been mid-transition for three weeks. THREE WEEKS. There is no reason for this process to drag out for nearly a month. But this year it has taken exactly that long. I’ve analyzed (to the point of obsession) my annoyance with this seasonal task. I’ve uncovered a few little jewels that I am going to use as excuses from this point forward when justifying my ‘transitional rage.’
- We live in an area suffering a weather mood disorder. I’m guessing this impacts anyone who actually has to swap out their clothes each season. The rest of you may be blessed to live in a climate where it’s 70 degrees all year long. You simply rotate your Easter tank top out for your Christmas tank top. However, where we live, it’s not an exaggeration that there are spring/fall days where you might need to run both your furnace and your AC. If you live in the Midwest, it’s not uncommon to have to undo all your hard work when the late October forecast bounces back and forth from 49 degrees to 85 degrees in a matter of days. For example, this year I packed up every single pair of summer shorts on a cool October day knowing, just KNOWING, that we wouldn’t need them again until next spring. Flash forward one week when temperatures rose back into the mid 80s. Imagine a smallish bedroom where two girls are already quite snugly (read as cohabitating in sardine-like conditions that typically means one child goes to bed in another room) sharing a room. Now add four large bins which contain:
- 1) incoming fall clothing
- 2) outgoing summer clothing
- 3) clothing that will be passed down from older to younger sibling
- 4) clothing that will now go from younger siblings to even younger cousins.
With the return of summer temps it was a foraging expedition to reach a few pair of shorts so we wouldn’t be the family sending kids to school in fleece in 85 degree heat. Clothing explosion.
- There may be too many people living in our home. I have multiple children which means I can’t simply bag up the old clothes and donate or sell the items. I mean, I COULD, but I choose not to because I would simply be turning right around in a year or two to buy clothing similar to what I’ve just donated. I’m fiscally responsible…..frugal……cheap. Whatever you want to call it, it’s worth it for me to hang on to clothing for future use. This was easy in the early days of one or two kiddos because it meant one or two bins. Now we have bins stretching from 2T all the way to size 10. I feel like our entire house is filled to max capacity with Rubbermaid totes. I’m certain if we sold each one for $1 we could retire early. While it would certainly be easier to deal with clothing if there were fewer of us, I can’t decide which kid to sell at the moment so I’m forced to deal with the rapidly multiplying rubber totes.
- My children might be a bit dramatic. I don’t know where they get it. (Cough, cough.) Rotating the clothes each season means I need to get completely willing children to try on certain articles of clothing so I can determine whether the items will still fit next year. When I say ‘completely willing children’ I actually mean children who begrudge and often fight EVERY request. Children who pull the pants up only to their kneecaps while loudly proclaiming “they’re too small, too long, too scratchy, too itchy, too blue, too fluffy or too tight.” If it’s a really good day, they may be screaming all those things at once. Fortunately, what they lack in self control, they make up for with…..more lack of self control. Apparently I have given birth to children who miraculously lose all upper body strength and simply cannot pull a shirt over their head when asked to throw on a shirt. Their appendages become like limp noodles incapable of lifting to actually put an arm through the sleeve. These are now children who scream as if the cotton sweatshirt I’m asking them to put on is made of razor wire. Children who are CLEARLY missing their calling and should be headlining their own Broadway rendition of “My Traumatic Childhood: Stories of Abuse at the Hands of a Woman Who Wanted Me To Try On ClothesTo See If They’d Fit Me The Next Year.”
- The ingoing/outgoing clothing confusion has resulted in a malady. At some point in the never ending rotation of clothes, I lose all ability to decipher what is incoming and what is outgoing. I have multiple stacks for each child and can no longer make heads or tails of what I’m looking at. It’s like a disorder. CRC. Clothing Rollover Confusion. I really think it needs its own medical code so doctors can charge for it. Because it HAS to be a legitimate condition. My head spins as I look back and forth from pile to pile, paralyzed with the thought of what to do with each stack. The highlight of this year’s forever long clothing process hit a high note when my daughters decided to ‘help’ clean their room (a task they have NEVER willingly offered to do) by tossing every stack of clothing into two empty bins. In their defense, they had no idea that the 7800 stacks of clothing were arranged by season, size and next destination. When I came upstairs and saw the tidied room, I thought strongly about taking the bins directly to the donation center and making one sackcloth jumper for them to share and wear the remainder of the year. It was touch and go.
- We have too many clothes. I love to dress these turkeys and also love a good sale. This wasn’t a problem in the early days of parenting. However, as more babies came along, I also enjoyed coordinating and matching outfits. More clothes begat more clothes. And now I’m pretty certain the leggings are reproducing in the safety of the storage bins. We would be best served with about eight articles of clothing per child. A pair of jeans, a pair of leggings, a few shirts, a dress for the girls……but I am now drowning in bow ties and vests and jumpers and rompers and sweaters and skorts and more sweaters and tunics and so many socks that I want to flee the country when faced with matching them all. DO WE REALLY NEED SOCKS?
- My husband does not understand the struggle and I. AM. ALONE. Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t purchased an article of clothing for himself since 2002. Perhaps it’s because the site of little people clothing makes him break out in a cold sweat. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t know which outfits go together or which outfits belong to which child. Regardless of reason, I am left to brave the clothing transition alone. My husband is so great at helping with every other task that many men would deem a ‘woman’s work.’ He is a master in the kitchen and doesn’t break a sweat when it comes to laundry. But if I ask him to assist with anything related to putting away or organizing the kids’ clothing he suddenly looks kinda pasty and awkward. Flashbacks to what I saw as I walked down the aisle on our wedding day. Poor guy. It’s like he knew what he was getting himself into.
- I am emotionally attached to clothes. I am aware that it likely sounds highly insane but I am emotionally attached to the clothes in my kids’ drawers. I can’t pull out a piece of clothing and quickly decide where it is heading next. Before I am able to make that decision, I automatically think about where I purchased this item, what the child looked like in the clothes, whether we used it for a special occasion. And on and on and on. The first couple days of ‘clothing rollover’ typically leaves me a bit depressed as I am faced with acknowledging the speed at which my kids are growing. With each folded item I hear ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ in my head. Drama. Mama.
I’ll end my whining with photographic evidence of this entire, never-ending, irritating process. Yesterday, after having boxed up and binned every article of clothing for all four kids, I placed one last box at the top of our stairs. It was neatly folded and awaiting my sister who happens to be in town with my nephew. He is next in succession for the little boy clothes. It didn’t take long for my own little boy to find the box and ‘help it’ down the stairs.
Again I pondered the sackcloth option. I might really be on to something here…..
Here’s to getting closer to the sun and welcoming spring in a hurry. It’s the only reason I’d ever wish to do this nightmarish task again so soon!
To those of you still enduring this task…..Godspeed.