Toddler Sized Laundry Lessons


Oh, laundry. My arch-nemesis. We meet again.

Okay, it isn’t the actual laundry that bothers me. If the clothes didn’t need to be folded and put away, I suspect laundry and I would get along quite well. Except for the fact that it never stops – even if I spend my whole day washing every scrap of dirty fabric in the house – linens, towels, blankets, clothes – I can rest assured that there will be more as soon as it’s time for bed.

Recently, I spent an entire day working on laundry. And while I expected to get annoyed at the socks that got lost and the t-shirts that needed folding, this week’s laundry load was different.

It started the same – a mountain of clothes I’ve been ignoring until there was the danger of having to wear actual pants instead of my beloved leggings. But as I gathered laundry from all of the creative hiding spots my family manages to find and washed and dried load after load, a problem arose.

My baby is no longer a baby.

Gone are the days of cute sleep sacks and impossibly tiny socks. Leggings with cute ruffles on the booty have been replaced with actual tiny jeans that have adjustable waists. No longer is my daughter categorized, in her clothing, by the number of months I’ve had her here to cuddle. She now wears shoes with real treads on the bottom and has hair so long it needs to be brushed and a battle must be waged to wrangle it into adorable pigtails on either side of her head.

It’s the warning every mother gives – “Kids grow up fast. Time will sneak up on you and suddenly your baby won’t be a baby anymore.”

Surely, I’d thought, it’s an exaggeration. Surely my tiny baby, the one who didn’t even fit into newborn clothes when we left the hospital at just under seven pounds, would never fit into those seemingly massive 24-month pajamas.

And yet, here we are.

It took longer than most, I know. My daughter is petite – I can’t even count the number of times I heard about how tiny she was – and we were in six-month clothes for what felt like forever. Favorite outfits were worn often enough to need retiring instead of being grown out of so quickly that the tags were still on.

But as I sat on my bed with a pile of fresh laundry and folded onesie after onesie that no longer fit, I couldn’t help but think about how quickly that had changed. A few growth spurts, so quick that I almost didn’t realize, pushed my daughter through nine and twelve-month clothes before I even realized. So quickly, in fact, that most of the clothes that I washed went straight into storage. And now, as I sit surrounded by three plastic bins of clothes my baby can’t squeeze into anymore, the stage is set for a good little cry.

Like a slideshow of pictures, there’s all of the moments that are behind us – ‘Dada’, said for the first time while wearing our Stormtrooper onesie; Our first St. Patrick’s Day outfit brought to us from Ireland by our Papa; the red and white gingham outfit we donned for our first birthday celebration and the furry polar bear zip up that kept us warm through our first Indiana winter…

But there are mixed emotions. Alongside the memories are the adventures that are waiting in the form of toddler-sized clothes. 2T shirts that we’ll wear to the playground when the warm weather returns. Brand new size 5 sneakers that will stomp through the mud. New pajamas in favorite colors and adorned with. characters that my daughter knows and recognizes. All seem to say: you have a rambunctious, beautiful, opinionated toddler now.

At the end of the day, the laundry that triggered my mini Mommy meltdown are only clothes. Maybe they’ll be worn by a future sibling or maybe they’ll simply sit in storage until I finally pass them on to new parents who will marvel at their miracle in cute, colorful cloth. And the storage containers of baby days mean the start of new adventures – talking and learning about shapes, numbers, letters…all of the things my daughter shows me she’s ready for with each passing day.

So I will be too and together, we’ll embrace the adventure.

Like potty training.

And I thought I hated laundry before