It starts the moment children are born, with hospital bracelets, first outfits and first photos. The pace picks up after you get them home: toys, first haircuts and more super-cute clothes with which you can't bear to part.
Then they start school and it becomes an avalanche of art projects, report cards, handprint pottery, certificates of merit and awards.
By the time the children are 18 and ready to leave, the nest can be stuffed to the rim with memories and mementos.
Eventually, the piles must be pared down to a few items that have the most memories attached.
Jill Korn, of Augusta, has three children, but it's a piece created by her son Jason, now 26, that she keeps front and center in her office so she can see it every day.
Jason was in kindergarten or first grade when he carefully wrote out the following: "Most of all the beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one MOTHER in the whole world."
Ms. Korn said the handwriting sample survived the years because of its simplicity, although she admits that she's saved quite a number of things from her children.
"I've had to hone it down, because you just can't keep everything," she said with a laugh.
Linda Adams, of Augusta, said she culled through her children's things to choose just a few items to save as mementos. Ultimately, her favorites were the first items her children wore - the clothes bought to wear home from the hospital.
Mrs. Adams said she kept the outfits worn by Keith, now 42, and Wayne, 39, and has used them as decorations around her house, although she is preparing to put them in shadow boxes for safekeeping.
Sometimes, it's the simplest things that become momentous to a mother - even when the children are still young.
Keri Brown, of North Augusta, has two children - Bentley Claire, 7, and Grant, 3 - who have just started accumulating a childhood's worth of remembrances, but Mrs. Brown said it's the rocks her children bring her on a regular basis that she treasures the most.
"My little girl started bringing me interesting rocks she found and I just put them in a jar I keep," she said. "I don't think they realized that I was keeping them, until I responded to (this) article."
In a submission to The Augusta Chronicle, Mrs. Brown said Bentley started picking out special rocks when she was about 3, "telling me how she picked out that particular rock just for me."
The fact that her children started their collection on their own is what appeals to Mrs. Brown.
"Nobody told them to give the rocks to me," she said. "No one took them to the store to pick out something special for me."
It's the memory of her husband, Bill Jones, that helped Dot Jones, of Augusta, choose her favorite memento from daughter Terry Hendrick's childhood.
Mr. Jones was in the merchant marine and would often bring his daughter interesting dolls from his travels overseas.
One doll, an old woman from Italy, is particularly striking.
"She just looks like she could speak with you," Mrs. Jones said.
The doll, which Mr. Jones gave to his daughter shortly after World War II, was part of a collection that helped Ms. Kendrick win numerous doll contests in Augusta during the 1950s.
"Oh, they hated to see her coming," Mrs. Jones said with a laugh.
Scott Sawyer's mother, Anne, of North Augusta, took a picture he had drawn in 1971 and turned it into a fixture in the family den.
The picture of an open Bible with John 3:16 carefully written across it even includes the handy instruction "To hang up" on the side in case there was any question about its wall-worthiness.
"Of course, to me it's one of the most important parts of the Bible," Mrs. Sawyer said. "It just has such a special meaning."
In the 35 years since it made its appearance in the family home, Scott Sawyer hasn't paid that much attention to his childhood memento.
"It's been hanging there so long it's just part of the house," his mother said.
In fact, most of the parents noted that their offspring aren't nearly as interested in their creative endeavors as their parents are.
"I don't think it means as much to him as it does to me," said Ms. Korn of her son's handwriting sample. "I'm a real keeper of things."
Reach Erica Cline at (706) 828-2946 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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