Apr 27, 2010
My husband calls it the Black Hole, and any time I ask him to get the baby wipes or snacks out of my bag, he rolls his eyes, exhales for approximately 42.7 seconds and then says, “You know I won’t find them.” My friends and family have also taken notice of and commented on the ebony monstrosity, asking if it’s really necessary to carry around enough contents to sustain a small country.
A month ago, the woman at the British Airways counter eyed my bag and asked if I wanted to check it in, and I told her that it was one of my carry-ons. Her eyes turned as large as a bush baby’s, and I immediately said, “It’s malleable. It looks big, but actually there’s not much inside, and it squishes down.” My husband laughed under his breath, while I hoped she wouldn’t ask me to show her just how malleable it was.
My precious raven sack came to be because of the ineffectiveness of three changing/diaper bags. I could fit a blanket, baby wipes, and four nappies/diapers in the first one, but where was I to put the changing mat, toys, my wallet, my water and my umbrella (these were pre-buggy days when we only used a baby carrier, so taking advantage of the buggy basket was not an option). The second one fit six diapers and the rest of the baby accoutrement, but had so many zippers, snaps and Velcro, I thought I was in contraption purgatory. And while I usually favour compartmentalisation, my lack of ambidexterity – one hand was typically being used to hold my son or push his buggy – didn’t go hand-in-hand with one hand (no pun intended) trying to open a rigid zipper or tear apart stubborn Velcro. The strap on the third bag broke.
After a couple of experiences being on the receiving end of items from a friend or family member’s mini-suitcase bag, I vowed never to go down this road. I once asked my friend for a piece of gum, and she then asked her mom. Her mom proceeded to reach in her purse, retrieve two sticks of gum and give them to us. Both sticks had half the wrapper missing, leaving a portion of the gum to be semi-sticky with various crumbs stuck to it. I asked my friend if her mom just supplied me with already-been-chewed gum. On another occasion, I asked my cousin for a tissue. She gave me a mangled up piece of something that resembled a paper handkerchief, with strips falling out as she handed it to me. And it felt moist.
Pair my aversion to whopping carryalls due to peculiar contents with trying to avoid bagis causingis lopsidedness caused by hefty holdalls, and for years I was the proud owner of darling little handbags, satchels and clutches. I remember these years fondly, but alas right now they’re not practical. You can’t fit a portable potty in a clutch.
I nearly wept when my friends who don’t have children revealed to me what was in their bags – things like lip-expanding lip gloss, hair serum, mini hairbrush, perfume, heels, lightweight sparkly scarf, and cigarettes. One friend said that within her purse she had a little “just in case” bag complete with a travel size hair gel, facewash, a pair of undies and a tank top/vest. I nearly wept because I was longing for a time and also because I realised that my “just in case” bag means something totally different, such as just in case he pees his pants, just in case he and I are covered in his lunch, or just in case he becomes so unruly that I have to resort to Ice Age on the iPod.
All things considered, though, I was surprised at how similar the bag contents were. They had keys, a mobile, iPod, wallet, glasses, diary/planner, bottled water, receipts, scribbled lists, pen, hand sanitizer, tissues and Chap Stick, as did I. Maybe my life-size luggage isn’t a “mom bag” after all.
Or, maybe upon further inspection, it is. My friends have gum, candy and Tic Tacs. I have M&Ms, but they’re for the little guy. They have aspirin “for hangovers”. I have baby medicine for teething and fever. They have “feminine products”. Does a diaper/nappy count? I was excited to hear that my friend who has a dog also carries a sweater, treats and doggie bags for her canine in her bag, the equivalent of a change of clothes, snacks and nappy sacks in my bag for my little guy. Turns out I have a few extras: napkins, a camera, baby wipes, a portable potty, juice, sidewalk chalk, crayons, various toys, rocks, sticks, and a combination of crumbs, sand and dirt blanketing the bottom of my almost-duffel.
Strangely, I’m the complete opposite of a hoarder. Clutter gives me the itchies, and my husband says that I could survive with one stick of Swedish furniture in our home. I don’t know how this all happened – becoming a big bag mama – but I think I can pinpoint the changeover to three events. I forgot baby medicine during a particularly difficult teething spell, enough diapers when a stomach bug came out of nowhere, and snacks during a playgroup when my little guy wouldn’t even blink at the snacks on offer. Thankfully, none of the situations turned out to be catastrophic, but the potential was there. So, to avoid future possible calamities, I would err on the side of throwing everything but the kitchen sink and any dirty dishes within it in my bag.
To the grand sac noir naysayers, I say please do not worry yourselves with anticipated alterations to my posture, but rather relish in the fact that I am temporarily providing a service. My days of carrying an immense sack will soon be over, but in the meantime I plan to remain a Good Humanibagitarian, providing snacks to little ones who don’t like the snacks their own parents provide, nappy sacks to customers who walk out of the market, drop a wine bottle and need something to put the pieces of glass in, baby wipes to complete strangers who spill, and crayons and pages torn from my planner to parents of boisterous little ones at the table next to me.
Wish me luck, empathetic friends, family and fellow parents of the world, because I now need to go into my bag and find a pirate and a gecko for a certain little someone.