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My daughter wobbled toward me in silver, square-toed go-go boots, one heel dislodged and flopping against our hallway’s faux wood floor. On her opposite foot, a striped sock peaked curiously through the growing toe hole.

“Mama,” she said. Her tiny voice raised another octave, “My shoe!”

I sighed, then sat on the floor. Waves of grief washed over me as I contemplated what kind of glue might capably reconstruct the shoe’s sole. Elmer’s glue? Textile glue? Maybe Krazy Glue?

I knew the boots should just go into the bin. And yet, they—along with a vibrant, overbearing cat dress that would leave rainbow patterns behind your eyelids—were the last two gifts my mom sent to my girls before she died.

RELATED: Let the Grandparents Spoil While They Still Can

My mom was a professional ballerina who was recruited to join world-renowned ballet companies including, ​the Basler Ballet in Basel, Switzerland and the San Francisco Ballet.

Swan Lake. Romeo and Juliet. Peter and the Wolf. The Nutcracker. As a small child, I would raid her closet and her well-loved dance bag and adorn myself in her ornately designed costumes. During performances, she floated across the stage, an aura of beauty and grace. I recall sitting on my knees, fighting the push of the spring-hinged theater seats, intent on making myself taller so I could see better.

After nearly a 20-year career, my mom retired from the stage shortly after I turned seven. She never talked about it after that but had my five siblings and me in quick succession.

When my two girls were born, my mom would call nearly every week to check on us. Her calls all began the same way. “Honey, do the girls need anything?” she asked. I knew it was her way of attempting to repair the strain in our relationship.

My siblings and I raised ourselves. A plastic trash bag of used clothing appeared on our living room floor at the start of each season and food stamps ensured there were plenty of eggs, ramen, and Little Debbie snack cakes, at least at the beginning of each month. While my peers—high school juniors—hung out at football games and the local movie theater, I pushed for more shifts at the grocery store where I worked so I could help supplement what was needed.

At age 17, my siblings and I were removed from her custody permanently due to her pill addiction. After a decade of jail and rehab programs, she found the right path of resources and support. Once my mom got sober, she worked relentlessly to rebuild my trust. That included offering to buy her granddaughters whatever they might want. But my girls didn’t need anything, my husband and I made certain of that. So my answer most often was no

RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose My Mom the Day She Died

Gifts still found their way to my doorstep. Boxes filled with an assortment of gifts and clothes I would never, ever buy. My mom loved the Dollar Store, one of the only such shops in her small Kentucky town. I hated the cheap, too-easily-broken items found there and the chaos they created. One spring, I found myself washing pink cotton candy that had melted into my daughter’s hair and had turned her dirty blonde locks a deep burgundy.

On other occasions, she would FaceTime me from a flea market. Behind her, a display of dance shoes, Nutcracker-adorned clothing, and oodles of flashy stuff I knew would ignite an argument if I tried to get my daughters to take them off. However, when I look at the now three sizes too small pajamas in my daughter’s bottom drawer, I refuse to remove them. If I let go, it might be like losing my mom all over again.

Each time I pick out one of the outfits my mom sent, my heart sinks. One day, very soon, my daughter will wear that kitty dress or those Nutcracker jammies for the last time. Eventually, I’ll also have to say goodbye. Even to the broken-heeled, square-toed, sparkly silver go-go boots.

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Karlee Vincent

Karlee Vincent is a parenting advocate and the Author of Pump or Bust: A New Mom’s Guide to Office Politics, Breast Health, and Pumping on the Road! She has lived through the trifecta: traveling, working, and pumping. Karlee lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, their two school-aged daughters, and a fluffy fur baby. Karlee has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Ms. Magazine, the Tamron Hall Show and Care.com. Her essays have appeared in Scary Mommy and Tiny Beans and she blogs for TODAY's Parenting Team, The TODAY Show’s community for parents. Karlee is also a member of the California Breastfeeding Coalition Board of Directors. Say hello at: KarleeVincent.com

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