Dizzy with excitement, I took my husband’s hand and walked into the department store. We headed straight for the accessory department, where purses of all descriptions were displayed. It was my thirty-eighth birthday and for once I knew what I wanted: a new pocketbook. A nice one that was not a diaper bag and not so cheap that it would fall apart before the end of the season. My new purse needed two easily accessible pockets, one for my phone and one for my camera. I preferred a bag that was mostly brown, but with enough black to not change purses every time I change shoes. Also, the bag should be big enough for some junk, but not so big that it would become overwhelmed with clutter. And under no circumstances would it look like a diaper bag. It’s not that I was opposed to diaper bags. In fact, I’d carried one for the last eight years. But it was time to do something for myself, and the progression from a bag for everyone else’s stuff to a purse for only myself seemed the natural thing to do.
My husband agreed, “What do you want for your birthday?”
“A new purse,” I said with confidence, “A nice one.”
“You haven’t bought a nice purse since Mattie was born,” he confirmed.
No kidding. It feels like I have done few things for myself since Mattie and her sister, Caroline, were born. My thirtieth birthday was one month before Mattie’s delivery. I quit my job to stay home with my newborn. I was always at her beck and call, changing her diaper, feeding her and trying to get her to sleep. When her sister came along two years and nine months later, I was completely saturated with mothering. There was no time for anything else.
Suddenly, eight years of my life had rushed past. My daughters became independent girls who required neither highchairs nor toys to sit through a meal at a restaurant. Instead of the diaper changing tables in public restrooms, both girls preferred their own stalls. They started school, began playing sports, and I was “mom” more often than “mommy.” I carried my new purse to the counter with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. It was exactly what I wanted, but I was sad. No longer would I be the mommy digging through a bag for a pacifier, an appeasing snack or a diaper. Now I would be the mom looking through backpacks for homework assignments before running out the door to soccer practice, my lovely new purse thrown over my shoulder. My shopping trip reminded me that this phase of life would also pass in a rush. I better enjoy every moment I share with my girls. When the next eight years have passed, it will be my daughter throwing her purse over her shoulder as she prepares to drive to soccer practice. And that thought was enough to make me thankful that I still need a pocketbook large enough to hold the keys to the car.