Sorting seasonal clothing

Jun 2, 2008 at 11:17 p.m. ET

Several weeks overdue, I finally sorted the kids' winter clothes out of rotation and sorted the summer clothes in, weeding out out-grown clothes along the way. For the boys, this is a simple thing, really. Long-sleeved shirts to the back, short-sleeved shirts to the front, same with pants and shorts, check the shirts for excessive staining and pants for tears. Are a stain pre-treatment or mending possible or worth it? What needs to be replaced outright, whether because of size or wear? The boys tend to wear their clothes hard, and they wear them out completely. At any rate, it's over and done quick enough.

Boys in ClosetWith Sunshine, however, it's different. She's still growing so quickly that she needs almost a whole new wardrobe each season. I find myself lingering over some items of her clothing, knowing I will miss them. While I sort, I don't just check which bits might still fit in the fall and hope the skirt from last summer might, just maybe, still be wearable, I also make a pile of her clothes that she has definitely outgrown but with which I cannot part emotionally. Those items are destined for a special container.

Special memories

I did this with the boys, too, so it's not just a girl and her dresses thing. In my special container are impossibly small sweaters, favorite shirts and pajamas and even hats the boys used to wear. There's Alfs very first pair of Levi's. There's a favorite short of Woody's. There's Sunshine's first dress and a tiny pair of tights. There are items they wore for family photographs and in random snapshots. I say they are things I want to keep for possible grandchildren, but they are unlikely to last that long, really. They are for me, and for my memories.

While I am getting better and better of ridding my life of extraneous clutter in other ways, I cannot weed through this bursting at the lid container. As I look through the container each season when I add to it, I smile, remembering. I probably, really, should get a second one. And maybe a third so there is one box for each child.

Were they really that small?

The kids don't know I do this. Maybe the boys do now, but they didn't. They probably think it's weird. Someday, when they are beyond adolescent awkwardness and maybe even parents themselves, we'll look through it together and marvel at how small they once were. They won't believe it, and neither will I.

When I sort the clothes and think about missing seeing Sunshine running down the beach in that little sundress, what I am thinking about missing isn't the clothes, it's the littleness of this time. Keeping the clothes lets me hold on just a little bit longer.

Read More: