The bag I carry says a lot about me.
In my time I have carried backpacks, beach bags, a very big bag and a very tiny purse. They have ranged from the fanciest of leather to the coarsest of straw. I often too lazy to transfer my necessary items from one receptacle to another, and as a result end up at varying functions with a very inappropriate handbag. I have carried beach bags in February and stuffed baby bottles, pacifiers, and rattles into itty-bitty Kate Spades. And I don't care.
Since becoming a parent I have tried on for size expensive diaper bags, run-of-the-mill knapsacks, and a variety of non-descript large shoulder bags. None have triumphed over the others as "the bag." As such, my strategy is to buy a cheap one, use it until it develops some sort of tear, hole, or other defect, and move on. I have mourned the early loss of too many an expensive bag - as they tear, rip, and develop defects as quickly as those one quarter their price - to invest my love in another one anytime soon.
The bag-du-jour is a Walmart model. That says something in itself, as I never saw myself as the person who shopped at Walmart; circumstances in the form of my husband's extended medical training in the middle of nowhere dictated otherwise. While my politics and perceived station in life balked, I learned, much like Dutch, that it was just full of people trying to do their best for their families - just like me. Anyway, one day while grocery shopping, I took the kids into the accessories aisle and told Lizzy to pick out a new bag for Mommy.
That's right. I had my four year old pick out my bag. My bag. The one item I bring everywhere, regardless of who or what or how I'm dressed was chosen by a four year old with a rather bohemian fashion sensibility.
She chose a messenger style model, made of ripstop, with a beige background and colorful flowers in the coral and brown families. It is hideous and I love it. And indeed, I carry it everywhere. I was doubtful of its extended usefulness, as it looked rather small. But it is divided into three roomy sections, with a small zippered pouch and a makeup case. There are two pockets on the front that I do not use. Through grocery stores, in airports, and on the beach, I have found it to be the most useful bag I have had thus far.
In it are the following items, listed in the order in which I discovered them:
My notebook full of phone numbers, grocery lists, and plane reservations
A Joann's flyer
Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons
My new pin number
A "Hatch for Governor" bumper sticker
A Pottery Barn coupon
2 old children's menus to be colored
Brochures for Lizzy's dance class
A pair of Lizzy's Hello Kitty underwear
The Northwest Airlines tickets stubs from our recent trip to Illinois
A dried out (hopefully clean) diaper wipe
A small blank notebook
A Dora the Explorer board book
The confirmation receipt for our trip to Illinois
A pink hairbow
A ziploc bag full of crayons
A bottle of Advil
Mardi Gras beads
A pair of sunglasses not belonging to me
A pink Minnie Mouse toy cell phone
A Disney princess comb and brush set
A Magic Marker
An uncharged cell phone
A stainless steel business card holder
Three credit cards, a check card, my license, library card, etc.
Four dollar bills
A pot of barely used Stila lip gloss
A clip-on watch
An unknown key - what does this unlock, anyway?
$1.63 in change
One Canadian penny
A receipt from Wegmans
A wrapper from a Triaminic Thin Strips for Cough
But wait! As if the above were not enough, don't forget the contents of my handy-dandy matching makeup bag:
An empty inhaler
More Triaminic Thin Strips
An extra contact lens
A hair clip
Please note that there are no diapers or wipes listed in the unending list presented above, even though there should be. There are no photos of my children. Who needs photos when THEY'RE ALWAYS WITH ME. Maybe I should put a little note in one of the aforementioned little notebooks that I need to find a babysitter.
I perceive and pride myself on being practical, but I'm a pack rat and a little bit unprepared, even though I have all the sudafed you'll ever need. I used to care a great deal about my appearance and it's effect on other people; it's safe to say that I cared a great deal about what other people thought about my clothes and my hair and my accessories. And now I don't.
I've read recently about mom uniforms and the importance of not letting oneself go, and thought twice about it. My hair is no longer blown dry, my uniform is indeed jeans and a dirty tee, and my loud, obnoxiously-colored, overfull bag is from Walmart. But I don't care. It's stuffed with anything you might need to ward off an allergy attack. It's got enough inside to fix a toddler hair emergency or potty accident - although poor Ted would have to sit in a poopy diaper. It's full of enough cash for a refreshing beverage. It really can't be mistaken for anyone else's bag. It's unmistakably mine.
This long and drawn out description of the contents of my bag can be blamed on Sandy. And now I tag Karin, Blair, and Kara to reveal the contents of their own unmistakable bags.