The Story Behind: Diaper Bag Differential originally ran in April 2013.
It’s not that I hoard stuff. I don’t have a vast collection of birthday and holiday cards from years gone by. Or bureaus full of T-shirts I used to wear in college. Like Jessica, I don’t obsessively file away every single doodle that results when my son puts crayon to construction paper. Stuff like that all gets pitched into the round file — or the shredder if I’m feeling particularly, um, efficient — without a flicker of regret. I’m prone to sudden attacks of feng shui in which I purge my office of the stacks of magazines and newspapers I thought I’d get around to reading someday but never did. Even baby stuff. Other than a handful of items from that all-too-brief newborn phase that I stuck in a “memento drawer” so that one day I could marvel at just how tiny my strapping 7-year-old used to be, I dispassionately purge clothing, toys, books and whatever else my son has outgrown.
Nothing is sacred. I am not attached to … ephemera.
However, I do live in abject fear of not having some … thing that I might desperately need when I am away from home. Aspirin. Band-Aids. Migraine medicine. Granola bars. Water. Diet Coke. A deck of cards. Tampons. Vitamin C. Antibiotic ointment. An emery board. You name it, I’ve probably got it in my bag. I was a Girl Scout. I believe in the great Edna Mode’s philosophy, so eloquently stated in The Incredibles, that “Luck favors the prepared.” Thus I am incapable of leaving home without a bag stuffed full of well … random crap.
It was bad enough when it was just me, lugging around a slightly scaled down version of a Samsonite suitcase everywhere I went. And forget about actually going on a trip. I’m the one who packs extra sweaters for the summer excursion to the Caribbean — just in case the temp takes a sudden unexpected plunge.
But once I had a baby to cart around too, I turned into a veritable sherpa. I packed like I was going on a six-week trek just to run to Target: several changes of clothes, a half-dozen diapers, extra bottles and pacis, extra wipes, extra bibs, extra snacks, extra toys, extra anything I could possibly think of. Hey, you never know when the situation might call for half a dozen Hot Wheels cars, a cup of Cheerios and some Balmex. Luck favors the prepared. And I wanted to be Mommy On The Spot. But oy vey! My bag was crazy heavy. Schlepping it around was a strength-training routine on its own. Now there’s a fitness DVD for new moms — the Diaper Bag Workout.
For two years I did the baby sherpa thing, to the point where even I, world-class schlepper that I am, was getting a little weary of it. Though I have to say, my arms did look great. Anyway, you can imagine just how much I was looking forward to lightening my load as the potty training era dawned.
And there came a day, after my boy had been going sans diaper for a while and had been doing well in his “big boy” underwear, that I decided to chance it — gamble is more like it — and make a quick trip to Target for some last-minute dinner items, carrying just my wallet and keys. But woe to she who tempts the potty training gods! (Bet you saw this train wreck unfolding in slow-mo from a mile away, huh?)
After I’d made my mad dash through the store … when I thought I was just about home free … there in the checkout line, I suddenly noticed that my li’l potty-trainee was standing, legs akimbo, silently pishing on the floor. The one freakin’ time I don’t carry the diaper bag, I get caught with a sodden child and no change of clothes. Some days, it really does seem like Murphy (he of Murphy’s Law, of course) has got it out big-time for parents.
So I went back to schlepping … at least till I was sure we were really, really, really done with accidents. Schlepping the diaper bag is like toting around an umbrella. Carry it, and you will have nothing but dry, sunny days. But venture forth without it, and that’s the day you’ll get caught in the deluge.