Tiny Dresses and Cowboy Pajamas

This is an old favorite post, written many years ago. The message of encouragement and perspective remains the same.

The children gathered around to see the baby clothes being pulled out of the plastic storage boxes. A tiny pink dress with rows of lace ruffles and a miniature pink satin nightgown brought ooo’s and aaah’s from the girls. Lavender velour, polka-dot cotton and white eyelet tumbled together in piles of newborn dresses and sleepers. Another box yielded nightgowns and bubble suits in surprisingly good condition after nearly 5 years in storage.

One of our daughters has a 3-week-old baby girl and another daughter is expecting her own little girl in less than two weeks. When everyone was home for the occasion of a baby dedication and baby shower, we sorted through baby clothes from the attic to give each new mother some clothing that she wore as a baby, and other items that were worn more recently by their younger sisters.

The boxes yielded more than clothing as we laughed over memories of little cowboy pajamas and the time their owner climbed in and sat down in the toilet water. He thought it was funny until his brother flushed.

A darling black and white velour tuxedo suit with a red satin bow tie brought to mind the baby boy who wore it. People would stop me in stores to tell me he was cute. Now college girls stop and stare at this handsome wilderness adventurer and scuba diver.

As we sorted the clothing into piles and held up the tiny outfits, I was struck to the heart at how quickly time has passed. Young mothers hear the advice,“Enjoy them, it passes so fast,” and there’s a reason for that saying. While you have little ones time seems to drag and you’re convinced that this will last forever. But suddenly you wake up and they are grown.

A certain son sometimes drove me to despair. He was a clingy toddler, a late bloomer, and at times, a laundry problem. One day I cried out in prayer about his bathroom habits. It’s one of the few times I’ve heard an almost audible reply from the Lord. When I literally asked “what would Jesus do” about my son’s little accidents, I heard, “I’d clean it up cheerfully, without a word.” I was dumbfounded. My attitude changed and I stopped complaining and pushing. The laundry problem stopped within two weeks. The same son eventually grew up into a charming and responsible young man who does his own laundry.

Mothers, your children will be adults most of their lives.

How I wish I had understood this more deeply as a young mommy. It would have eased the burden of having four children under the age of four. It would have comforted my heart during seasons of child training woes and homeschooling struggles. How grateful I am for the perspective that comes with age and experience, while raising the younger children still at home. And even more grateful that the principle of sowing and reaping is also true for the little good that we do.

Sweet little baby clothes are a poignant reminder that “atmosphere is more important than getting it all done.” Every parent has regrets, but spending time with their children and making memories on ordinary days are not among them. Baby boys grow up to be men and little girls turn into women, so let us live today to make the memories we will recall fondly when we wistfully sort through boxes of tiny dresses and little cowboy pajamas.


  1. Gayle Armstrong says:

    Thanks for this article. I’m sure it speaks directly to every mama’s heart.

    My main regret is not training my children well in household routines. They had their chores to do, but it was never a habit with us to keep things up with a little effort every day. Now they are handicapped with this lack of experience and knowledge. I’m trying to advise and guide them now, but it’s not as good as training them in the first place. Like Ed Frawley, the dog trainer, says, “It takes 30 repetitions to teach the right way the first time. It takes 90 repetitions to correct it after they have learned the wrong way.”

    But, as you said, thank God that we do also reap the blessings of the right things we do. I did raise them to love the Lord, and to be respectful and responsible adults; I love them and am proud of them, and am thankful that we all can still learn and grow together.

    I love reading your articles. I have been working on keeping a sweeter atmosphere in our home, and I can see a difference. I can see that my hubby is trying hard also to do his part and be kind and patient. It is working! 🙂

    1. Anonymous says:

      {{{Hugs, Gayle!}}} I hadn’t heard that quote about repetitions, but ain’t it the truth! We all wish we had done some things differently with our families, but we also have to forgive ourselves so we can move forward in grace. Keep mindful of that atmosphere–it’s the stuff of tomorrow’s memories!

  2. Dear Charolette,
    I truly enjoy reading your articles and feel blessed by them. I am so thankful for the encouragement and glad that you started this blog. Your writing style is warm and real. (I have been decorating more and find that it motivates me to want to clean.)
    My oldest will be 23 in May and my youngest will be 10 next month! What you said about the days seeming long when the kids are small is so true. Before you know it, they are grown and gone from your home. I just encouraged a young mom to take time to hold those little hands and look into her little ones’ faces & to listen to what is important to them. I keep learning some of the same lessons over again–recently I have been mindful to watch out for distractions that may come along that seem more important or perhaps glamorous. I love the little reminders about what is truly important. Thank you. May the Lord continue to bless you and your beautiful family. Carol H.

  3. as a grandmother ‘looking back’… I have to say … Preach it sister!
    you are SO right…
    I pray that my kids can grasp what you are saying and enjoy every moment even the seemingly yucky ones…
    in a flash… they too will be grandmothers sizing up how they did…

  4. Janakuric says:

    I’m right there with you! Our eldest son is 17 and just yesterday we visited a wonderful Christian college with him. He’s so excited at the possibilities and wants to fully develop his talents to serve the Lord. What a blessing to any mother! I remember so well when he was a colicky baby and thinking those days would never end. I’m so grateful to God that He sustained me through those rough times and covered my mistakes in parenting with His Grace! Our youngest is 2 and time seems to fly by, she’s growing so fast! Bless you Charolette, thank you for reminding us to make our days count!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Charlotte, what a beautiful article! Thanks for the reminder to cherish every moment with my little one. I wish I could remember every moment-

  6. Patricia LAnderson says:

    Thanks Charlotte, for your engaging articles! You are a wonderful mentor – mind you probably about my age. 😉

    A lady in our homeschool support group reassures young Moms with these words:
    “The days seem long but the years fly by. ” I’d often remind myself of these words when I was having a particularly difficult day!

    I will take to heart the words you wrote: “Every parent has regrets, but spending time with their children and making memories on ordinary days are not among them.” Today I will remember: Atmosphere is more important than getting it all done.

    Off to read a book to my girls!! 🙂


  7. Thank you Charlotte, what a wonderful stroll down memory lane I took with my own family as I read about yours.


  8. Jeannette says:

    Charlotte, Your memories brought tears to my eyes. I remember your little guys and girls and am so proud of the adults they’ve become. And you are right, it goes by in a heartbeat. I hope many young moms will take your wise words to heart and enjoy the moment.

  9. Well said, Charlotte!

    Very poignant, and very true. I told my step-daughter, mother of twin boys, that one day she will look back and long for these days when they’re little and messy. She looked at me like I’d landed from Mars. I felt a little sad for her, thinking, “You have no idea how fast it will go by…” I love your comment that they will be adults most of their lives. I shall slip that in to her one of these days.

    Thanks for the tiny dresses and cowboy pajamas images, too. Brought back many sweet memories.

  10. Andrea Smith says:

    This is really wonderful! Would you mind me putting this into our church’s ladies’ bulletin with reference to your name and blog? Thank you.

    1. Anonymous says:

      That would be fine, Andrea. Thanks for asking!

      1. Andrea Smith says:

        Thank you! It will go in our “For Young Mothers” section. I think we can all use this encouragement! 🙂

  11. Lindak130 says:

    Charlotte I always look forward to your newsletter and connect with the things you share. I was just at a baby shower this past Sunday and we were to write advice to the young mom-to-be and that is exactly what I shared with her on that card. Savor every moment, don’t rush them to the next stage, for before you know it they will be grown and your time for rocking, kissing owies, and rescuing them from peril will have past. It is bittersweet for sure.

  12. Anonymous says:

    As someone who never had kids, but who “borrowed” her nieces and nephews periodically, I hardly have a right to ooh and ahh. But your vignettes are so charming, I really want to post them on my Facebook wall so my readers can enjoy them! Thanks, Charlotte!

  13. Dear Charlotte, How true your words are! Thank you for another reminder. We only have 6 here on earth (11 in heaven), but they have grown so quickly. They are 15-26! Although, I don’t have any married…I know it could happen ‘any day’. Having buried twin daughters, one at 5 months and one at 2-1/2 yrs. helped me get a grasp on the principle of taking every day. It also helped me not to hold too tightly to what wasn’t mine. They are all gifts for a season. We enjoy spectacular ‘friendships’ with each one now…because of God’s grace. Thank you for your sweet, thought-provoking emails. I have begun T-tapp More…for the 3rd time…and Praise the LORD this time have had wonderful results in just 4 weeks! Thank you for your encouragement in that department too! I am beginning where you were…you give me hope.
    Grace and Peace,

  14. Dear Charlotte,

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. Today was particularly rougher than normal with my 4 children under 5. I was trying hard to see some light throughout the day but here was your post providing lots of light for me. Thank you again for speaking words of truth.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Kylie {{{Hugs!}}} You’re in a busy but wonderful season of life. It seems like only yesterday that I had four under the age of four, and now they are ages 27-30! Do what you can to make it easier for you (paper plates!) and search out encouragement for your heart. I’m glad to be a part of that!

  15. Jane Ballenger says:

    Great article as usual! I couldn’t agree more. Nothing changes perspective like time and I think I know that beautifully sweet and wise former pastor who encouraged you to stay sweet. I can hear his words ring in my ears from time to time as well:)
    Can’t wait for baby news!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Thanks, Janie. We can only hope that our words will someday encourage someone, too!

  16. Thank you for the article. My husband and I struggled with infertility for 6 years before He blessed us with three beautiful children. They are now 6, 5 and 6 months. I think partially because we waited and prayed so long, I always try to keep in mind the fact that it will, and does, go by so fast. I really do try to enjoy it, but sometimes I’m better at doing that in theory and thought than in practice. Do you have any tips on how to apply this thought in a practical way? I’m thinking I have read some of your tips on this topic before, but cannot remember specifically. Thanks!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Jessica, this sounds like a good topic for a blog post. Look for that next week!

  17. I’m sure that you won’t see this, but let me tell you how much I appreciate this post! A friend of mine posted this to Facebook and I am so glad I took the time to read it. I just had my last baby 10 days ago and have been struggling with the fact that it is my last child. I suddenly realized as his umbilical cord fell off at 6 days, that this was my last baby of “. I have been incredibly sad and find myself crying quite often during the day trying to cling to every moment as the newborn stage passes so quickly. His older brother just turned two and I am trying to capture every thing I can. I have realized that children do grow up too fast. I actually found comfort in your post. Anyway this is rambling, but I just wanted to say thank you.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Cambria, I wish I could give you a big hug! First of all, remember that hormones are probably crazy right now. At the end of pregnancy you have the equivalent of 100 birth control pills worth of hormones in your body and at delivery–poof!–they’re gone. Definitely DO cherish these days, but don’t stay stuck there, constantly dwelling on “what if’s.” You have so much joy and wonderful things ahead of you as your sons grow up. They grow up to be men, but you will always be their mommy. The fact that you know it goes quickly will help you make decisions as to how to spend your time and energy in the days ahead. Blessings to you and your sweet family!

  18. Thank you so much for sharing Charlotte! This was a wonderful post. Realizing that our children will be grown ups for most of their lives is a recurring theme in your writing, and I’m so glad to be hearing it while my children are still young. My oldest is 16 – so all my children are still at home.

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