My pre-kid life was full of things I didn’t even realize I was taking for granted: boobs that stayed where they’re supposed to, for one, and a lack of stretch marks. The ability to sit on the toilet without an audience. Expendable income. Free evenings. A car that wasn’t littered with stale French fries.
But one thing I really miss is having my purse all to myself.
Prior to motherhood, the contents of my purse were purely selfish – stuff that I, and only I (with the exception of maybe my girlfriends during a night out), needed. Makeup, a hairbrush, a mirror, floss, tampons, a bottle of ibuprofen, the usual. I was not required to schlep around anything for anyone else’s benefit. I was gloriously unprepared for poop emergencies and delayed snack times and boo-boos (real or imagined), because I was a childless adult and those are things childless adults simply don’t need to have a clue about.
But four kids later, here I am, and it looks like Toys R’ Us took a dump in my handbag. Ah, who am I kidding, “handbag” isn’t even the word for it. I’ve had to move up to a huge Santa-sack of a purse in order to accommodate the 200 pounds of kid-generated crap I haul around on the regular. My stuff is still in there, of course, but it’s buried under a slightly sticky mountain of everybody else’s junk. So when I reach in, chances are that what I pull out won’t even be mine. I mean, heaven forbid, my personal Chap Stick should be as easily accessible as this pair of plastic fangs or that smashed granola bar.
The amount of paper, for example, rivals the National Archives. I’m no extreme thrift shopper, but there are enough coupons in my purse to indicate otherwise; I’ve got $2 off and “buy one, get one free” for everything from juice boxes to jeans. (It’s too bad most of them are expired.)
There are handouts about developmental stages from the pediatrician’s office, old-ass appointment slips, invitations to birthday parties that happened like six months ago, receipts for easy returns in case my kid refused to wear the clothes I bought, and random hastily-scrawled notes that make zero sense any more (WTF is “fashion water?”).
And the toys – oh, the sheer volume of small playthings. I could fill every Happy Meal and put a prize in every cereal box within a hundred-mile radius. It began innocently enough, with a couple of little cars I tucked in there to keep my kids occupied while we were waiting for an oil change or something.
But somewhere along the line, things went terribly wrong, and my purse became a receptacle for every small toy this side of the Mississippi. It’s where all the superhero and pony figurines and kids’ meal toys and random cheap trinkets go to be completely and utterly forgotten – until I find them inextricably smashed into my stuff, like the gumball-machine slime that escaped from its container and gummed up the bristles of my brush.
Perhaps the only thing more plentiful in my purse than the toys is the trash. Because have you ever noticed that there’s a trash can on every corner – until you need one? Your palm is full of snotty tissues or pre-chewed gum and suddenly there’s not a bin in sight, so into the purse it goes to be dealt with later. Until I forget, that is, which is why mine is cluttered with wrappers and licked suckers and discarded Band-Aids and all manner of ill things (emphasis on “ill” since you know it’s got to be festering with germs. But hey! Immune booster, amiright?!).
On the bright side, I’d be set for months if ever I became stranded and had to rely on the contents of my purse for sustenance. There are enough half-eaten Nutri Grain bars and packages of crushed Goldfish and peanut butter crackers and open packets of almonds to see me through even the harshest of famines. Plus, once that’s all gone, I’ve got at least an inch of crumbs at the bottom to dig into! I gripe when it gets under my nails while I’m searching for something, but I’d sure be grateful for the crumb layer if push came to shove.
I do yearn for the bygone days of a small, tidy bag that held only my selfish necessities. But this is my life now, and there is something to be said for being prepared at all times. I may no longer be able to locate my lip gloss, but if you accidentally crap your pants at the park, I’ve got you covered.