A few years before we became parents, Josh and I took a 10-day trip to Israel and Italy. Here is what we took with us: One small rollerboard suitcase and one small carry-on each. That’s right: two adults, 10 days, two countries, three small bags. That’s how we like to roll.
Flash forward a few years, and I schlep more than that for an afternoon at the lake with the girls. We’ve got the diaper bag, the towel bag, the beach toys, and the lunch bag. Two kids, three hours, four bags. Oy.
I think that’s been one of the hardest parts of parenthood for me–adjusting to all of the kid-related crap that has cluttered our daily lives. Before we had kids, I would spend my morning train ride to work staring in disdain at my fellow commuters who somehow thought it was reasonable to travel the streets draped in several bags, one of which was inevitably a giant open-topped tote with belongings spilling out all over the place. Oh no no, I would cluck to myself. That just won’t do. I commuted with one bag, one ZIPPED bag.
Karma is such a bitch.
For the past four years, Josh and I have lugged around a giant red diaper bag. As much as I don’t love schlepping, I love this bag. It can be worn cross-body or as a backpack, it has clips for stroller handles, two insulated pockets for sippy cups or bottles, and a ton of interior pockets for excellent organization. (You can buy this bag in the States now. It wasn’t available when here when we got it, so some friends brought it back from Israel for us.) Over the years, the bag has held diapers, wipes, changing pads, diaper cream, plastic bags, bottles, formula packets, breast pads, nursing covers, sippy cups, baby food, toddler snacks, bibs, onesies, teething rings, pacifiers, burp cloths, tissues, baby motrin, an ear thermometer, blankets, spare clothes, sweatshirts, sunhats, sunscreen, winter hats, mittens, toy cars, baby dolls, plastic tiaras, rubber balls, beaded necklaces, loveys, stuffed animals, coloring books, markers, wallets, sunglasses, keys and, on emergency trips to the ER, my iPad.
I never thought I was going to be that mother. We showed up at our very first pediatrician appointment with a plastic grocery bag. I have no recollection of what was in the bag, but somehow it never occurred to me that we should actually have a diaper bag with us. But then I found myself covered in spit up and poop and without a clean diaper or burp cloth and I went out and got myself a diaper bag. It has rarely left my side since.
Until last week. I had to run a couple of errands to get ready for my little girl’s birthday party, and I was on my way out the door when my big girl asked to tag along. It wasn’t until we were wandering the aisles of the craft store when I suddenly felt so… unencumbered. Light. Free.
I didn’t have a diaper bag with me.
It was AMAZING.
The last time I (unintentionally) ventured forth without Big Red was several months earlier. We were in the middle of the cereal aisle when the words “Mommy, I made a pooooop!” suddenly rang out. The odor hit within seconds, I panicked, and we left without our groceries.
This time was totally different. We’re done with diapers, the accidents have become so infrequent that it is no longer necessary to carry extra clothes (although I might leave some in the trunk of the car so as not to tempt fate), and the girls are old enough to be able to wait for snacks or drinks. I can throw a few toys in my purse as necessary (that’s right, people, I said purse, as in a small personal bag that’s MINE, filled with mostly MY stuff), or alternately, I can put the toys in one of our many tot-sized pink frilly purses and let the girls carry them.
It is the end of an era.
Even though I don’t miss the baby years, I must confess that I am a bit nostalgic for the days when my girls slept in cribs (no danger of falling out), when I didn’t have to pull both girls away from the table at the restaurant because one of them has to pee (one of the only benefits of diapers, I think), or when I didn’t have to nag them about eating their vegetables because they didn’t have any teeth yet. But I won’t miss having to drag a giant bag with us everywhere we go.
And so our beloved diaper bag will soon be retired, probably for good. Of all the backpacks, suitcases, purses, and totes I have ever carried, this is the one I will never forget.