Baby clothes are a physical representation of time passing by. Is that why I get so emotional when I have to switch out clothing sizes for my baby? Because moving up to the next size means she is growing and growing and really there’s nothing I can do to stop it?

And while growing equals a healthy and strong child who is constantly and consistently wowing me with this human she is becoming—it also means I don’t actually have a ‘baby’ anymore. I have a toddler.

I could have sworn this morning that my daughter would fit into these size 12-month pants we have in her drawer. But they didn’t fit her—they looked like reeeeally tight capri pants, not the full length roomy leggings I remembered them to be. Didn’t I just bust out the size 12-month clothes from the basement?

I guess it had been longer than I realized. Months, weeks, hours, minutes have all been zooming by among the day-to-day grind of motherhood. Hundreds of meals have passed by, many nights rocking her to sleep gone, thousands of kisses and hugs and her recent favorite, high-fives, now in our past. And all her size 12-month clothes have slipped by among the chaos of life.

Had I been missing watching her grow?

When I pick her up now to rock her, she schooches around like a little puppy, trying to get comfortable in my arms because her body is too long for the position she is in.

When she stands on her tippy toes now, she can grab things off the kitchen counter. She is about one inch (or less!) away from being able to reach the faucet when she stands on her step stool in the bathroom.

She is growing—so fast! And those little 12-month leggings set me off. How could I now need to fish out my older daughter’s 18-24-month size clothes? I don’t know if I’ll have another baby. I probably won’t, but I don’t know if I can reconcile that in my heart right now.

What I do know is that I can’t just hold on to all these clothes “just in case.” So, it’s time to pass them along to someone else who can use them and for some reason that makes my heart twitch.

I think it’s because part of me will never feel “done” with having children. No matter whether I am actually done logically, mentally or financially.

I don’t think I’ll ever not yearn to feel those sweet kicks inside my belly. Whether or not I remember the soreness of my lower back carrying around a human inside me or how hard it always was to try to find a comfortable way to sleep at 40 weeks pregnant.

I don’t think I’ll ever not want to experience the true miracle that is coming face-to-face with your baby for the first time. Whether or not I have the energy to experience contractions and/or giving birth again.

Those little 12-month pants seemed to shout in my face, “THEY DON’T STAY SMALL FOR VERY LONG, YA KNOW!”

I know, pants! I know!

Their childhood will move to their teenagehood and then to adulthood, and there won’t be tiny little dino jams in the laundry or princess dresses that don’t fit anymore. How is it possible for these small, precious pieces of cloth to seemingly rip my heart out of my chest?

After I calmed myself down because of these snug leggings (before going into full-blown panic attack mode), I was able to see things more clearly.

My kids are going to grow.

I did this to my mom, too.

It’s all going to be okay.

This is how it works.

Time moves both quickly and very slowly in motherhood. Somehow, looking back on everything with rose-colored glasses, it seems my newborn zoomed through her first year at record speed. Yet some days when I am waiting for my husband to walk through the door, it seems like yeeeeears since he texted me letting me know he hopped on the train.

These cute little outfits are pieces of their babyhood; of this intense, magical time in our lives. But even if I keep every single item of clothing, it doesn’t mean those clothes will bring our sweet newborns back in 10 years when we have middle-schoolers.

So I will let go of all (okay, most) of them. And I will allow myself to keep some, for those days where I know my future self will want to take a (likely very emotional) trip down memory lane. Those special chosen pieces that I kept will act as my own personal time machine.

We get little reminders of our babies’ growth every day. And as emotional as changing out clothing sizing can be, I’m grateful for my little leggings reminder this morning.

My life with three kids can feel so busy and I often get caught up in the overwhelm of it all—but any chance to stop and soak in the pure goodness of childhood is welcome in my fragile mama heart.

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