The Little Black Purse


I uncovered it in a mover’s box full of other personal things deemed impractical at the time, wrapped up carefully in its dust bag.  It’s unclear how this small leather Coach bag ended up in storage instead of making the move to Wales with me, but it wasn’t one that had gotten a lot of use in the last few years prior to our move – that was a time of diaper bags.

This was the purse of a professional. It had been carried it along with my briefcase, and it was barely big enough to hold my keys, wallet and eyeglasses case. There was still a CTA bus pass in the inside pocket.

This wasn’t the handbag of a mom.

It can’t fit hand sanitizer, travel-sized markers, or snack-sized bags of Goldfish crackers.

You wouldn’t ever have found a pair of Disney Princess underpants, size 4 in there. It never would have fit a travel-size pack of wipes or a spare Matchbox car or be littered with wayward Cheerios or a dusty Binkie.

At the time I bought it, I would have scoffed at the huge shoulder bags some women carried. Whatever would I have filled it with?

But even now, with both kids long out of diapers and toddlerhood, I still carry a big bag. You might think I was once a Girl Scout, I’m so always prepared.

What is in my bag today? Pens. A small Moleskine journal for jotting notes when inspiration hits. (I’m old school.) A bottle of water (hydration is important!) A small makeup case that holds my asthma inhaler, a tiny tape measure (you never know when you need to measure something, after all), ear buds for my iPhone, mints, a compact mirror (even though my iPhone works just as well), lip balm and a lipstick. My BIG wallet. Hand-sanitzer for the 7-year-old who is afraid of noisy hand dryers (as well as a few dot band-aids, for temporarily covering up the sensor in automatic flush-toilets, as she has the magical ability to set off a flush every 13 seconds while she goes…and so she is afraid of those, too.) My eyeglasses (more as a reminder that I need to make that appointment at the optometrist) and my sunglasses, depending on the weather/time of year. My Kindle, because I’m always waiting…for soccer practice, for school pickup, for dance lessons to end. Extra pony-tail ties. A few business cards, which never get passed out (outside of blog conferences). Snacks for the kids.

I was a girl who used to travel light. Now I’m the mom who is always prepared.

I haven’t thought of that former girl in eons, the city dweller, the organized 70-hour-a-week girl who faithfully hit the gym daily and stayed up too late reading.

I wonder what she would think of the latter, the suburbanite, the mom who dresses in yoga pants (but doesn’t always make it to class), who could only wish of having the abs that her 30-year-old self moaned about at the time and who gets too easily distracted by the “shit I forgot about the load in the wash/did I remember to buy dishwasher detergent/where did I put my keys/phone/mind” shuffle around the house. (She still stays up too late reading…after she has folded the laundry.)

I think she would be delighted by the kids, tickled with the husband, irritated beyond belief by the expanded waistline.

As I picked up that black handbag on Saturday evening for a long overdue date night with my husband, the lightness of the bag a bit disconcerting, feeling like I had forgotten something – until I realized it was almost if I was officially taking off the Mom suit for a little while.

And lasted until my phone chirped with the text (at the start of the movie, of course) that read “Mommy, my head and tummy hurts”.

Do you have something that reminds you of a former self? Does it change the way you feel about yourself when you wear it/use it?  


  1. Lissa Johnston says

    LOL I have come full circle, abandoned the Mom bag, and am back to a tiny phone wallet. I love being able to stick it in a pocket and have my hands free. That will come to a screeching halt when spring arrives and I am not always wearing something that has pockets!

  2. Thom Higgins says

    As of May, I have been married for 1/2 of my life. I’ve been a dad for more than half of my marriage. Trying to find anything that isn’t connected to this life has been a challenge. But I’ve realized that it takes music to give me the same feeling you had with the bag. “Throwing it all Away” by Genesis came on the radio and I was transported to August 1986. I was out jogging on a hot Southern California day, just two days from heading out to basic training. I have a bunch of time machine songs that with a single refrain or guitar riff, take me back.

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