Maternal Baggage

When life becomes a hodgepodge

JANE SANDERS ILLUSTRATION

True stories of a working mother: One week alone, I ...

1. Walked into work completely unaware that my daughter had clipped a ridiculously poofy hot-pink bow into my hair. In her defense, she told me she was doing it while she was doing it. In my defense, she told me before I had had any caffeine, and I apparently lack the vanity to look in a mirror before leaving my house. I didn’t notice it until lunchtime when I was washing my hands and I looked up in the mirror over the sink and said, out loud to the entire restroom, “What the hell is in my hair? DAMMIT, RUBY!”

2. Changed from business professional to school fair casual in my car while rushing from a work event to my volunteer shift at the Morris Jeff Community School Feria de Primavera.

3. Pulled a diaper (clean, at least) out of my purse while frantically rummaging through it for a business card to hand to a colleague.

The last got me thinking about how much my life has changed since my college days. When I was, say, 19, I carried my student ID in the back pocket of my jeans and a tube of Chapstick and probably $5 in my hip pocket. I had one key – for my 1989 Toyota – because my apartment had a punch-code. I don’t think I even had a credit card. 

Now? Well, for a very brief while after Georgia was born, I had a real diaper bag that was separate and distinct from my purse. It contained a changing pad, diapers, wipes, various creams and ointments, a nursing cover, a spare set of nursing pads, a change of clothes for the baby, snacks for Ruby, sunscreen, infant Tylenol, spare pacifiers and pacifier wipes, and a small selection of baby toys and books.

 But I hated carrying the diaper bag plus my purse, and so when I needed to take the diaper bag, I often just threw my wallet and cell phone into the diaper bag and left my purse at home.

This worked out well-enough until one extremely sleep-deprived afternoon when I decided to leave the baby with my husband and treat myself to a much-needed mocha at PJ’s – and realized while attempting to pay for my coffee that I had left the wallet in the diaper bag. Luckily the barista took pity on me and comped me the coffee (it’s safe to say I am an extremely loyal customer; she knew I’d be back). But any system that threatens to come between me and my coffee simply isn’t sustainable, and so shortly after that close call, I said to hell with the diaper bag and just started throwing baby things in my purse. You women with multiple purses that go with multiple outfits: I respect you, but I don’t understand you. I can manage to keep up with exactly one (1) handbag. 

So now my purse contains a hodgepodge of the stuff that’s in every woman’s purse (wallet, keys, phone, Chapstick/lipstick, gum, tissues, Advil); the stuff that’s in every mom-who-isn’t-together-enough-to-carry-an-actual-diaper-bag’s purse (a zip-top baggie of wipes, a spare diaper, a binky or two, sunscreen, baby socks, Happy Meal toys, a wrapped-but-crushed teething biscuit); and the stuff unique to me (special-ordered hand sanitizer, a pen because I won’t use public pens to sign things because I’m crazy, Post-It notes because I’m obsessed with them, a Tide pen because I’m incapable of eating or drinking anything without spilling at least part of it on myself and a huge bottle of Zyrtec because oak pollen makes me want to scratch my face off). 

When I think back to myself at age 19, blessedly free of a cell phone or a chunk of keys or a purse full of Pampers and binkies, I’m envious in some ways of the person I was. I was young and free with better hair and a smaller waist and an unwrinkled forehead. If I was up at 2 a.m., it was my own stupid fault. If I wanted to spend a rainy Saturday watching bad TV, I did it. If I didn’t feel like cooking, I’d wander over to the bar two blocks from the journalism school and eat happy-hour fried cheese sticks. (And yet, I still had a smaller waist.)

I had the luxury of being completely self-absorbed, and I can’t lie and say I never miss that. But ultimately, 15 years later (God, really?), I’m proud of both the diapers and the business cards in my purse. Both are achievements in their own ways; both take a lot of time and effort. Being a working mom isn’t easy – working isn’t easy; being a mom isn’t easy – but I love it. 
I still can’t believe none of my coworkers said anything about that stupid bow, though.


Excerpted from Eve Kidd Crawford’s blog, Joie d’Eve, which appears each Friday on MyNewOrleans.com. For comments: Info@NewOrleansMagazine.com.

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