My 11 year-old daughter and I cleaned out her closet a few weeks ago. It’s a twice a year ritual for us and we actually have fun doing it. We put on some music, take all of her clothes out of her drawers, go through her closet and figure out what to keep and what to get rid of.
And of course, as always, she wanted to try on everything, even the items that we both knew weren’t going to button at her waist. Lots of the clothes brought back memories. Her grandmother’s 70th birthday party (black, grey and cream dress), a trip to North Carolina (royal blue top and white skinny jeans) and a favorite t-shirt she used to wear to her Catholic Sunday School that says “Gefilte Fish” on it.

Talking about all of these memories was like looking though the photo album that I always meant to make but never seem to have the time to do.

But this time, when we cleaned out the closet, she had grown a lot. Long skinny legs. A slight curve at the waist. A maturity in her wit. And I can see what’s coming. More growth spurts, puberty and hopefully not the attitude.

As we went through her clothes, we designated the items that didn’t fit her to one of three stacks: for the keep box (only items of tremendous sentimental value), for Camden (the 6 year-old who we’ve known since birth and who gets only the best preserved and cutest items) and for our local Goodwill.

After we cleared space in her closet, we took a stack of clothes off of a shelf. They were the hand me downs that’s she’s gotten from my friend’s daughter that we were waiting for her to grow into. And she tried all of these on and hung up the ones that now fit her. These hand me downs are the best: dresses, jeans and sweatshirts. All in the style that my daughter likes. Plus, she thinks my friend’s daughter, actually my friend and both of her daughters, are pretty cool.

The next day, we took Camden’s bag of clothes over to her and showed her everything that was in it. She seemed pretty excited and later that day her mom sent me a picture of Camden wearing an outfit we had brought over. An outfit that my daughter had worn a few years ago.

And the picture made me tear up. I’m not usually that sentimental. I’ve even been called a cold hard bitch before. But seeing the picture of Camden really drove home the fact that everybody around me is growing up. My 13 year-old son who’s now taller than me and who’s going to high school next year. And my 11 year-old baby. Who’s in middle school and definitely not a baby.

And as much as I enjoyed my kids when they were younger, I absolutely love being with them at this age. Sure they can be annoying. My son’s mouth never rests, his favorite topics being the weather and the Jets. My daughter’s sensitivity makes her quick to take offense to comments from her brother and her selective hearing gets better and better by the day. And sure they fight with each other at inopportune times. And yes I’ve had to curse more in the past year than ever before in order to get their attention (it really works).

But when we’re running errands around town or driving to Miami to see my parents or flying on a plane to North Carolina. Or even just sitting around the table at dinner. And we get in to the kinds of honest conversations about friends, money and life that you can only get into with an 11 and 13 year-old, I know how lucky I am.

And then I get kind of foolishly happy. Because in addition to everything else I have in my life: friends, family, health, clean closets and not too many worries, I have these two kids that are loving, smart, engaging, interesting and just plain fun to be around.

Who knew that a bag of hand-me-downs could make me feel this way.

Yeah, I’m not sentimental. Sniff.
Images via Maggie Evans Silverstein