Confessions of a Mom Bag
I recently submitted my DNA to ancestry.com and discovered that I’m related to Mary Poppins’s carpet bag. Granted, the connection is distant (I was born in a factory in the Chinese province of Zhejiang), but I should hardly be surprised: I’ve long known that I am a Mom Bag. All of my relatives—Carryalls, Totes and Diaper Bags (poor things)—have heard the stories about our magical, bottom- less foremother. She spent her life carrying two bathing caps, seven flannel nightgowns, a coat rack and an eiderdown. So, basically, her human was a minimalist compared to mine.
I’m only three, but that’s ancient in Mom Bag years. Soon, my zippers won’t work and my handles will fray. I know, comparison is the thief of joy. We can’t all be born Birkins; with their infuriatingly architectural bone structure, they even age elegantly. And I know I need to check my privilege—I could have been a barf bag. But all my life, I’ve heard about how “sturdy” and “roomy” I am. My friend Evening Purse (she’s so fabulous and soigné, but she just seems so empty sometimes) tells me that I should feel lucky that I’m so prac- tical because it means I get to go out every day. Maybe. But how can I be fulfilled when my human treats me as if my secret aspiration was to be a Glad Bag? I had dreams. I used to think I’d grow up to be an Attache Case.
Just this morning, my human took me to a café and frantically groped me while searching for Wallet and Phone as her small human ran around like a lunatic, knocking over chairs. I do wonder what the old bag (sorry, that expression just came out; classic self-loathing, my analyst tells me) could actually get something done if she didn’t spend half her life flapping around in my tummy and unflattering side pockets looking for Phone in a feral panic. (I need to accept my imperfections, but why must I have pouches around my mid-section? It does nothing for my silhouette.) Anyway, Wallet—which by the way is never zipped up properly, making Change Pouch perma- nently incontinent, forever trickling coins, poor lamb— was lodged in my bowels, beached on a sandbox-worth of cookie crumbs. So instead of Wallet, my human fished out a reminder card for a therapist appointment she hadn’t remembered to attend. I’ve also been hauling around a breast pump valve despite the fact that she hasn’t nursed in two years, a boarding pass from a trip we took in 2016 (the amount of time I had to spend on the bathroom floor at Schiphol during that “vacation” still makes my snaps shiver), some dried-out baby wipes, pulverized crackers housed in a compromised Ziploc, a loose Ativan and what I think might have been a Cert.
I do worry about my human sometimes; she’s always so tired—the bags under her eyes are presently verging on the valise. So I try to take comfort in knowing I can be of service if she might need, say, a small snack or a brief coma. (She does seem to enjoy both a great deal.)
On good days, I know my worth. I am hard-working and more of an emotional-support animal than an accessory. “I am not a useless envelope clutch!” I tell myself in the mirror sometimes. But on bad days, to indulge my feelings of inferiority, I hate-read those purse-shaming What’s In Your Bag columns in human celebrity magazines about buttery Bucket Bags, tassled Beach Bags (God, to be a Beach Bag—nice life) and leopard-print Fanny Packs (how I would love to be one of those, they’re so petite and urbane) adopted from European flea markets and Silver Lake pop-ups. Their humans are movie stars and fashion designers and social-media influencers. (I wish my human was an influencer. She couldn’t even influence her kid to put his shoes on this morning.) Those bags get to go to bistros in Le Marais and beaches in the Cyclades. (My human is constantly taking me to the drugstore. She took me to a place called “the gym” once but we never went back.) Those chic bags only seem to carry lipsticks in the shade of Parisian window-box geraniums, international battery chargers, expensive aspartame-free mints, first-edition Russian novels and Scandinavian non-toxic wooden figurines (they’re such engaged, playful mommies to their human offspring, too!). As far as I can tell, for my human, parenthood has mainly meant being eternally proximal to a cracker and a quick cry.
Those celebrity bags aren’t in the business of shouldering geriatric Certs, resignation and guilt. Entre nous, my human might need to adopt a larger bag for her guilt. Thankfully for her, despair must be trending right now because I hear that giant bags, enormous enough to make a body bag look discreet, are currently being delivered at European fashion houses like Victoria Beckham and Jacquemus. They might be sized appropriately if, say, the Statue of Liberty were in the market for a new hobo.
Now the holidays are coming up, which always makes me more reflective. I’m trying to learn from my human: She can be so hard on herself, so I’m striving for more self-acceptance. Lord knows, we all have our baggage. —as told to Olivia Stren