Thoughts Engendered by Pajamas With Feet

NOTE: Gazing at a lovely picture of a friend’s daughter with her two kids–a newborn and a toddler–I found myself advising her, in full cliche: “Enjoy every minute of this time; it goes so fast!” 

That made me wistful about my own daughters’ younger years. Even though I realized then the flight of time, it still slipped past me far too quickly. 

So I dug out a poem I wrote decades ago, which was published in a local anthology. Here ’tis:

We cleaned out the closets yesterday,
Disposing of the children’s Infancy
   and Toddlerhood
in just a few, brief hours.

We stacked the memories in cardboard boxes
and placed them in the basement,
Where they will remain until my charitable 
   heart,
Massaged by the Internal Revenue Service,
Calls the Salvation Army to
take them away.

There went the Winnie-the-Pooh shirt,
Gently folded by the thin ten-year-old
Whose face is hidden now behind a
  thicket of heavy curls,
Like a small cottage attacked by overgrown shrubbery.
“How tiny it is,” she smiles.
How tiny she was, I remember, seeing her again
As she was then, the nicely shaped head
   covered
With thousands of tight little ringlets 
She let me cut at will.

I tried to wring those early years
of all I could,
Taking to heart the wistful warning from those
Who’d already passed this way that
“You’ll never know where the years went.” 

But
Here’s the evidence of my failure, the
Footed pajamas worn first by one daughter,
Then by the other.

In the accordion of my memory, the years are
   pleated 
Close together, almost superimposed
one on the other. I see
The girls, leaning back against their pillows,
Fragile arms folded behind their heads with 
Comical sophistication, as they listen
To a story they both treasured and selected
bedtime after bedtime.
“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises
everywhere.”

I recite the words from memory now. My six-year-old,
Deciding which books she is ready to surrender to a
Younger child, replaces GOODNIGHT MOON
On the shelf.  I am grateful to her
For allowing us to retain our shared memory just
a little longer.

Next time, I know, GOODNIGHT MOON will go the way 
Of the footed pajamas and the Winnie-the-Pooh shirt.
Another book, which she now reads to me, will mark
these years for us.  My daughters will grow
Less attached to their childhood memories, 
As I grow more so.

I am too young to be living in the past, I think,
But still, in what I know is a gesture more to myself
Than to the future, when the time comes to dispose
of GOODNIGHT MOON,
I shall pack it in the special box, the one set apart
   from 
The goods for the Salvation Army.

There it will join the hand-knit garments woven
With love by aunts and grandmothers intent on
Warming my daughters with their 
crocheted caresses.

And I shall hope that the mildew of indifference
Spares it
For the next generation.


I hope this poem resonates somewhat, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories. WordPress people, if you like it, please remember to click on Like. Cheers!

Annie

 

18 thoughts on “Thoughts Engendered by Pajamas With Feet

  1. Annie asks you.

    Anne I read it 3 times and will read it again. I am not a parent and not usually as attached to things personal or other much anymore. Mostly all material items around me are just things needed, liked, appreciated or waiting disposal.

    Because of my recent circumstances I have surrounded and immersed myself in intangibles.

    In an apartment there is way to much. So memories distant and recent are best to fill all the corners and wall art of that which prompts same.

    Memories are ethereal but not eternal as they live in a place were we can’t see them but float thru our day and usually we just need to take the time, expand our thoughts and reach beyond our moment to find them, hold them and inhale their presence.

    They stay fresh each time their used unlike material items that soil with handling. Memories connect us to a place we no longer belong and allow us to wander in a place that was special at the time though not always appreciated to the fullest.

    Yours are special to you but not as much to those in the memory. Theirs of the same moment are of an image you can’t see. The comparison of those two memories are the complete story but may not be as our memories wish to be.

    The fine part of memories is our own personal connection with a past only the individual can appreciate. Either the soft smiles they rekindle or tear they create are the physical remnants of a moment or moments in time gone by, never to be relived but not to be forgotten.

    Reminisce regularly and keep the youth of your family life fresh, see them as they were and look at them as the successful adults they are and know how good it all was and well it has all came together.

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    1. Charles,

      I apologize for not responding sooner–I just found this message in my spam folder. How nice to hear from you when you’re so far away. Your closing comment is especially meaningful to me, so wise and true, and I shall take it to heart.

      Annie

      Like

  2. Sigh. We downsized recently and thus experienced the bittersweet moment of going through everything, passing along what might serviceable, trashing some things, and reserving a precious few treasures. Among the things kept, their little tiny shoes, which I arranged and glued into a tangible reminder of what once was. Crap, Annie. It all goes by so damn fast. The question now is to consider what’s next: the prologue not the epilogue. Like this blog for you, I imagine, and the bits and pieces of work scattered across my desk. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the tiny shoes! I’ve no idea where they are.

      I really like the emphasis on prologue—not epilogue. We grow, we learn, sometimes we even mature a little bit. I like the mindfulness phrase: “Let life live through you.” As always, thanks for being such a loyal commenter!

      Like

  3. The memories and emotions we go through looking back on material items that connect us to the past. My wife had stacks and stacks of birthday cards, Christmas card, Valentines cards accumulated over 47 years. When we recently downsized, I asked her when was the last time she had gone through them. She said she never looked through them, just collected them. We agreed they could go as part of the downsizing. Important to build up the memories.

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  4. Interesting that you should mention Goodnight Moon. I loved reading that to my children, and now one of my favorite things to do is read it to my grandson. It helps him settle down, in part because I read it with more expressiveness than I read anything else. It’s the nostalgia kicking in. So even though time does indeed pass quickly and we need to discard things over the years, the special memories bubble to the surface often enough to evoke pathos and—hopefully—smiles.

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    1. I still remember the cadence I used in reading Goodnight Moon to my daughters; I think part of the enduring appeal of the book was that its apparent simplicity evoked that expressiveness in us. Pathos and smiles—I like that a lot.

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  5. Hi Annie,
    I’ve kept my 2 boys first shoes as well as their handprints made into soft clay.
    But also, in my attic, are many boxes of their old baseball cards, some unopened. I’ve been told that I’m not to do anything with these cards until they (both now in their 4o’s) figure out what they want to do. Possibly they’re hoping to fund a pristine Mickey Mantle rookie card which could fund at least a college education?! Meanwhile the boxes are getting dusty.
    Anyway, very sweet poem, Annie. Don

    Like

    1. Hi there—

      Nice to have both the shoes and the handprints!

      So your sons may take your shared memories and turn them into a small or perhaps large fortune…that would be truly memorable!
      Annie

      Like

  6. A lovely poem that captures so well how quickly our children grow up.

    My youngest is 23 with an apartment and a job. She is coming over tonight so that we can do her taxes. I wonder if she would think me insane if I were to ask her so sit beside me on the couch so we can read Peter Rabbit again. Of course she would.

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  7. I loved this entry, Anne, and it definitely resonates with me!

    I recently began to declutter. I started with an a closet filled with stuff I knew we no longer needed or wanted. But then I came across mementos from our children’s childhoods…locks of hair from first haircuts, letters from camp, photo’s of their babyhood and early childhood, photos of them with our deceased parents. I can go on and on.

    Our children have no interest in cluttering their own closets with, what to me, is precious evidence of their childhoods. So I keep them, hoping they will change their minds after we are gone. With tears in my eyes, I placed them in a box labelled “Things that were precious to your parents”. There are more closets to go through but I have to psych myself up for the flood of mixed emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

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