I’ve been carrying a diaper bag around for a long time now, almost seven years to be exact.
I’ve gotten used to hauling this monster around– to the car, to the store, to the soccer field. And my family has gotten used to it too. They know Mom will always have a wipe, a tissue, a snack, a book or even a change of clothes.
My boys are so used to traveling with their own fully stocked convenience store that on those rare occasions when I don’t have a bottle of water for them, they have at times been known to lose it, at least a little bit. “What? WHAT?I can’t have a drink of water RIGHT THIS MINUTE but have to wait two minutes until we get home. Can’t you see I’m thirsty back here???”
But you see, now that my younger son is out of diapers, I don’t technically need a diaper bag anymore.
You’d think this would feel like more of a cause for celebration, particularly for my lower back. No more hauling around wads of restaurant napkins, half-eaten granola bars and forgotten treasures from one of the piñatas ubiquitous to all southern California birthday parties.
Not to mention the fact that this bag has seen better days. The inner pockets are completely shot from those pointy bottoms of fruit squeezers. The straps have broken so many times that I am now using one side strap and one backpack strap. And a binder clip.
Yet somehow putting the diaper bag in the garage seems so final. Like it’s closing the door on this particular chapter of my life.
That diaper bag started out with pacifiers and size Newborn diapers. Lately its contents have shifted to crackers, Thomas the Tank Engine books, and pullups. It’s seen me through those crazy infant diaper blowouts where yellow-green gunk shoots straight up the baby’s back, checkups at the pediatrician’s, mommy and me classes, grocery store meltdowns, and long flights.
There’s nothing like having kids to play tricks with time. Especially when they’re little, it seems, time flies and crawls at the same time. All of a sudden your older son is about to turn seven, and he’s missing a bunch of teeth and his legs are so long. And you sometimes blink at the fact that this is your baby, because of course he lives simultaneously in your mind as the tiny infant you first met and the big boy he is now, and all the boys he has been in between.
And you realize how much of your identity is now wrapped up in being the mom of this boy and his brother. And so it’s awfully disorienting when the way they need you keeps changing.
And there’s something else going on here too. Nobody talks much about how bringing life into this world comes with an increased awareness of mortality. Life is so precious. It is such a gift, and yet it is so fragile.
Sturdier than my diaper bag, I hope.
Not hauling a diaper bag doesn’t make me any less of a mom. It makes me a mom in a different stage of momhood.
And I have a feeling, at least for a while, that I’ll still carry around a bottle of water in my purse. Wouldn’t want them to get too thirsty.