Mom always carried a mom-purse. It was never a super big purse, but certainly not a small purse either. As far as I know, she’s never owned one of those tiny purses: you know the ones – they can fit a credit card and a tube of lipstick, and that’s all. No, my mom always carried a good-sized purse, but her purse contained absolutely everything that anyone anywhere near her could ever possibly need at a moment’s notice.
It was magic. Like Mary Poppin’s carpet bag. For the younger crowd, it was like Hermione Granger’s pocket-dimension enchanted purse from the last Harry Potter book. If you asked my mom for any item, she had it, right there, somehow, in her purse.
Chewing gum? Check
Breath mint? Check
Pencil, pen, measuring tape, hand lotion, Chapstick, spare change, bag of Cheerios, comb, nail-file, nail clippers, notepad, solar-powered calculator, those sunglasses they give you at the eye doctor’s office when you have your eyes dilated, checkbook, wet wipes, Tylenol – check, check, check!
She really hasn’t changed. I’m pretty sure there are most, if not all, of those items in her purse right now. Maybe not the bag of Cheerios or the crayons any more, although I wouldn’t be surprised if she kept them around anyway just in case her great-grandchildren needed them or she saw some small child in dire need of a snack or a diversion. The point is, my mom is a mom-purse kind of lady.
I’ve tried to live up to this standard. I do carry a purse, but I’m hopelessly ineffectual at keeping it fully stocked with necessary parenting items. If I have nail clippers, I’m out of Band-aids. If I have cash, I’m fresh out of chewing gum. (But who am I kidding; I never have cash. I’m a debit card kinda gal.) If I have a pen, I’m lucky if it has ink in it. I do my best, but no matter what, I still haven’t reached the level of purse-wielding power that she has. It’s a treat when my daughters and I go to visit grandma, because if they need anything at any time, she can always accommodate them – way better than I ever can.
I used to make fun of my mom for her mom-purse. I used to try to stump her sometimes with an item I didn’t think she’d have, but she would usually beat me at that game. Sometimes, when she asked me to pick up her purse and bring it to her, I’d complain about how heavy it was. “What do you have in here, mom? Bricks?” And she would always just smile knowingly and tell me that I’d understand purses better when I grew up and became a mom myself.
I’m still working on it. In fact, I’ve been a mom for eighteen years, and though my mom-purse game has definitely improved, it still pales in comparison to my mom’s. Right now I probably have about half of what I need, haphazardly strewn within my purse. I’m still a work in progress.
I guess it’s kind of symbolic of me and my ability to be a mom. It’s about half as good as my mom’s ability. It’s kind of haphazard, too – not nearly the efficient, find-anything-at-a-moment’s-notice ability like my mom’s.
But then, I’ve always said that if I could be HALF of the mom my mom was (and is) to me, I’d be satisfied.
So I guess half-as-good and half-as-full is not all that bad at all. ☺
Love you, Mom!
Rebecca Lane Beittel is a mom to two strong-willed girls, wife of a long-suffering husband, writer, reader, occasional English teacher, small business-owner, and progressive thinker.