“I can see how much they’ve grown. I remember when those hoodies were big on them,” one of the boys’ toddler teachers remarked to me the other day.
Fall. I can remember too, and those hoodies were big on them last fall. I must have closed my eyes a moment too long, because suddenly E has an inch of belly exposed under his jacket and the fit is just a tad too snug. Parents often mention how time gets away from them, how time can be forgiving and deceitful all at once. You know what isn’t deceitful? Clothes. One day you’re swimming in an Old Navy hoodie and the next you have that inch of belly.
It doesn’t stop when you’re a child. You don’t have to be fashionable for your life to be measured in clothes. The prom dress turned sorority formal dress turned just another dress in my parents’ closet collecting dust. The graduation gown. The wedding dress. The skinny jeans I can wear and then can’t wear and then can and can’t wear again and again. The maternity pants with the panel that once fit snugly over my enormous bump but now hangs uselessly. We buy, we donate, we give away our years.
When I bought these 3T hoodies, I remember thinking they might last a couple of years this time. The boys tried them on, playing with the zipper as I pushed up the long sleeves and had plenty of hood room to cover their knit hats. Every year we buy new ones, generic hoodies in whatever color we happen to like at the time, knowing they will be thrown off in the mud and soaked in the rain and washed over and over until they fade. These are unimportant items, right? Not fashionable, not thought out or carefully selected. Except they are important, after all. When I look back at pictures from this winter, I see what must be hoodies shrinking smaller and smaller, because surely my babies can’t be getting bigger and bigger.
So in a few weeks I’ll pass along their latest Old Navy hoodies, like the ones that were passed along before, and measure out one more year, knowing one day too soon I’ll trade them in for the graduation gown, the college sweatshirt, the tux…