I can honestly say that I have never bought any clothes for DD. Well 99.9% honestly - I bought a set of vests for the winter in Sainsburys when we were in London, and I have bought packets of socks. I've chosen clothes for her, bought with gift vouchers and when returning gifts that were unsuitable, but that's it. Really. And she is two and a few months old. So this week my Thank you Thursday is an appreciation for the mummies who participate in the cycle of giving.
The cycle of giving is not just passing on your old clothes and equipment to the next baby. I have a friend who regularly turns out her own wardrobe and goes shopping for new clothes. When she gives me the clothes she no longer wears, I call this passing on her old clothes. I'm very grateful for them - they are always good quality and my friend has exquisite taste, but it's not the same as the cycle of giving and receiving baby clothes, toys, seats, buggies, etc... for growing babies, with growing needs for items that are essential for a few months and then become obsolete.
When S had her baby in the winter, there were many joys she could finally experience first hand - some expected and some wonderful surprises. One day she said to me, "You don't know how good it feels that I can now be a part of this cycle of giving." S has always been a very generous friend to me and DD, she loves buying gifts. However, this giving comes with a different, a special, kind of love. I can't even explain why and I know that all our gifts came with much love. And everyone has their own style of participation.
After her first baby, a daughter, A held out for another girl for years. All the girl stuff - dresses and anything pink - were lovingly stored. By the time DD was born, A's daughter had a number of brothers and we got four storage boxes full of clothes. They came with instructions to pass on what we can't use. That's the perfect way to receive things by the way - who remembers where everything came from in order to give it back? What a burden to have to keep things in pristine condition, and try explaining to your two-year-old that she can't have chocolate in that dress because it has to go back to so and so. Thank you A.
M is a hoarder and, just as I think the time has come for me to go shopping for new clothes for DD, she turns up with bags of clothes and toys that her daughters have recently grown out of. As an official hoarder, she is also an infamous willing recipient for other people's outgrowns. I get these as well. Thank you M.
R comes from a huge family and gave us 33 onesies when DD was born, most of them never worn. A sister and about six sisters-in-law with older children means that her storeroom is like an outlet of Mothercare. Thank you R.
Thank you to the mothers of my students for regular supplies as your children grow up and out of everything.
Receiving is great, but the giving part is just as exciting. I have classified three different methods of giving. For the things in perfect condition that my friends could use, I put away to give as gifts when an appropriate occasion arises. By the time S's lttle O arrived, I had two boxes of 'stuff' for her, including a free-standing baby-bath/changer, a baby rocker seat, a cot mobile...none of which had been bought. I kept these things for her before she was even pregnant. A few boxes in the corner of my study for a year or so was a small price to pay for helping to keep the hope alive for S.
Things in good condition but for which we have no use - outgrown, not our taste, wrong season, etc... go to the gemach at the well-baby clinic. Gemach is a Yiddish word for store, I think. Anyway, it is a place where those in need can go and find whatever they want. The nurses take items with them when they go on house calls to the poorer communities.
Things that are definitely 'past it' go to the bins. Not in the bins, but folded nicely and hung in a bag on the side of the bins. Believe me, there are people who take from the bins. Anyone who needs to take from the bins is welcome to have, mend, and enjoy. The bins method has actually evolved into quite an effective recycling point. The bins at the corner of our street are like a regular second-hand shop. The bins outside the school are almost a second-hand bookshop - you see the smartest people going for a rummage there.
Epilogue: N phoned and asked me if I wanted a couple of potties that her twins had used. I told her, thank you very much but for 20 shekels I think I'd rather buy DD a new potty. The next day I saw the potties by the bins as I popped round the corner to the shops. On my return, about 15 minutes later, they had gone. However, thank you N for the raincoat you gave DD for next year.