With another house move in the next few weeks (finally a family home that we can settle in for the next few years), we need to declutter – and I decided the maternity clothes had to go. So I photographed each item, carefully wrote down the brand and size details, decided on a price for each item, and listed it all on community Facebook pages.
And then I waited.
Not a single message.
Nobody wanted my beautiful maternity dresses.
I felt a bit deflated, but joked with a few friends that maybe the universe had other plans. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be selling them at all. Maybe I would need them again. Funnily enough, the husband didn’t find it quite as funny when he got home from work and I relayed the story.
Still, as I went to bed that night, I must admit I felt quite relieved those dresses were still in my wardrobe. I knew I would never wear them again, but maybe I wasn’t ready to part with them either.
But the next morning, I woke up to a message. A mum-to-be who lived nearby had seen my advert and wanted to come and look at the dresses. This is it, I thought. This is it. She’ll come to my apartment, try them on, and take them all off my hands. That will be it. Done and dusted. Finished.
She was on her way, so I made my way into the spare room and hung each dress on the front of the wardrobe so she could see them all clearly. Most of these dresses had seen me through three pregnancies – and after the first two babies I’d stashed them away, hoping that I would get a chance to wear them again. After Mabel was born, I moved them to the spare bedroom knowing that I’d probably never move them back again. I wasn’t sad about it – how could I be, when the bump they’d dressed was now sleeping peacefully next door – but it did make me stop in my tracks and think. And now I was about to say goodbye to them.
I stood back and looked at them. So many memories right there on the wardrobe. I always loved having a bump. I loved the way I felt and I loved the way I looked – but most importantly, I loved the anticipation and pure excitement I felt when I looked in the mirror and stroked my bump. These dresses were part of those memories and I felt strangely attached to them. Just like the feelings I had when I stashed tiny newborn sleepsuits away in boxes, I felt stabs of emotion when I realised I’d never set eyes on them again.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. And within a few minutes, a stranger was trying on my maternity dresses in the spare bedroom.
She came out of the room 10 minutes later, clutching just one of the dresses. “I’ll take this one,” she said, “I just love it!” She handed me a few notes and we said our goodbyes – and I laughed to myself that the dress she’d taken was the only one I’d rarely worn during my pregnancies. It just hadn’t suited me when I’d got it home from the shop – and it was sod’s law that it was the only one she wanted.
Before I went to pick up the boys from school and nursery, I hung the remaining dresses back in the wardrobe. All still mine – for now, at least.
But just as I started to wonder whether the universe really was sending me a message, my kids stepped in. It is no exaggeration to say that I had one of the most difficult afternoons I have ever had as a mother. Nothing dramatic happened, but the boys fought, I screamed at them, Mabel cried, dinner had to be taken off the hob three times while she demanded more milk, dinner was ruined, boys refused to eat what I knocked up instead, I screamed again, they cried – and to top it all off, the 4-year-old told me he only loved me “some of the time”. Nice crescendo Stanley, nice crescendo.
So that evening, with a glass of wine in my hands to recover, I decided I needed to give myself a pep talk. I might be sad that those dresses won’t ever wrap around a bump again – but my goodness, three children was quite enough. I admire those mothers that keep having babies, but I had definitely reached the point of coping. The point of staying sane.
So I heaved myself off the sofa, walked to my desk, scrolled ‘WE ARE DONE!” on a post-it note in thick black letters, and marched to the spare bedroom to stick it on the label of my favourite maternity maxi dress as a reminder of that afternoon.
Because we are done. I am sure of it.
WE ARE DONE!
I think we are, at least.