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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Bet My Bag is Bigger than Your Bag


Some women spend their money on jewelry. Others shoes. But there is a distinct group of women who collect purses - name brand, expensive purses. And by expensive I mean ‘you could dig a well in Africa and feed an entire tribe with the money you spent on that purse’ expensive.

But to each their own.

I am not a part of the name brand purse touting army of women. Not that I don't admire the supple Italian leather, the sleek embroidered canvas or the hand stitched trim. I can appreciate good quality when I see it.

I don't carry those bags because I am a mother. Of five children. Two of which are twins. In my opinion, my purse needs to be a functional, not stylish, piece of my artillery. 

Primarily, I need a big bag. Not a large bag. A very big bag. It must be big enough to hold books, diapers, wipes, bottles, tissues, Band-Aids, batteries, antibacterial hand gel, chap stick, snacks, pens, drawing paper, gum, medicine, cough drops, permission slips, water bottles, watch batteries and toys of every variety. And that's just for the kids. I need: a camera, an energy bar, packets of instant coffee and sweetener, wallet, lipstick, makeup, coupons, the grocery list, to do list, prescriptions, business cards, reading material, keys, mini sewing kit, spare change, my phone, lotion, comb, dental floss and a flask (just kidding) (sorta).

In other words, if you need something just ask me.

Because I carry everything but the kitchen sink in my purse and because my children are always digging inside my bag with their grubby little hands on the hunt for spare change for the concession stand, why in the world would I ever invest in an expensive leather purse? That would be just be a cruel reason for a leather-donating cow to die. 

No, the kind of bag I need is more liken to a military grade duffle bag. Which I would consider carrying except I don't have a single thing in my closet to match army green. Because while I recognize I don’t have a lot of control over much in my environment, I can at least color coordinate to the best of my ability.

Which brings me to the final component of my purse dilemma. I can barely get my teeth brushed every morning. How could I ever expect to find the time to match the color of my bag to my outfit? In fact, for years I carried one purse that had both brown and black coloring because I imagined it looked somewhat respectable with whatever I wore. 

But recently I put all my purse anxieties aside because I have found the perfect purse for me. It's large. It's durable. It's semi stylish, relatively reasonable and, here's the best part, it has an interchangeable cover. It has the magical ability to carry everything a mother needs while masquerading as a trendy bag.

Which pretty much sums up what I imagine my reputation to be. While I might look as if I have it all together, semi-stylish and arguably up-to-date on the outside, I am quite loaded down on the inside with odd and end randomness.

But what mother isn’t?

I don’t need an expensive purse to prove my social status to the world. Nor do I wish to spend an entire month’s wages on a bag that carries my kids’ crap.  What I really need is a waterproof, stain resistant, durable, attractive and inexpensive small suitcase that can do all the cooking and cleaning. Now that would be a purse I would pay an arm and a leg for! Or I could just get rid of the kids. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!
Stephanie Sikorski is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District and can be reached for comment at ssikorski@mr238.org. To date she has collected five covers for her interchangeable bag.

(this article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series in the Daily Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media Company)

  ...please!

This is my 3rd week to hook up with YeahWrite! If you found me via the link up "Thanks!" and if you don't know what YeahWrite is check 'em out!

31 comments:

  1. Practicality...that's what it's all about. And I don't have any kids. I'd much rather give the amount I might spend on an expensive purse to dig a well in Africa. But then I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a purse - ever. But maybe I'll give that much to them anyway! With 5 kids its seem you may need to check that luggage every time you hit the grocery store! Fun post!

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    1. thanks for visiting my blog today! and between you and me I can't believe I would ev-ah! spend hundreds of dollars on a single purse.

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    2. I dunno. People always say 'I'd rather build a well in Africa'. But surely you've been out to eat in the last month, or have cable, or had your hair done, or drive a nice car, or have a mortgage etc. If you wanted to, any of that money could be used to build a well in Africa. I don't think we can judge one another in this way. We all have our vices.

      Nearly every single one of us could afford to build a well in Africa, by cutting down on vacations, grocery shopping, how many clothes we buy and so on. If we wanted to, we could sacrifice enough luxuries to do that. How many of us have?

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    3. Dear "my honest answer",
      Just as you say, "I don't think we can judge one another in this way" you are judging and assuming that Stephanie has all those things, "vices", you mentioned without even knowing her or the facts. And I am here to say, that is not the case. Her family has made great sacrifices to not live above their means like so many others do. Ask her kids how many times they have been out to eat in the last year. And she certainly is not driving around a fancy sports car (where would she put her 5 kids anyways). She made a simple statement that she could not spend that kind of money on a purse. Why? Because she chooses to live reasonably and put what money she does have towards good causes...be it a well in Africa, helping family friends in need or even simply buying the practical things that a family of 7 needs.

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    4. Thanks My Honest Answer for visiting my blog today. It's ok that you didn't agree/like my commentary... we can still be friends. Every voice counts. I used the "build a well" statement a little tongue in cheek. In my community the purse is a status symbol for some. That's a group I'm not interested in 'fitting' into. If I'm accepted based on what I carry then that's not a relationship I'm interested in pursuing anyway. And I agree with you that we can all do something. Imagine how wonderful the world would be if we made a habit of choosing sacrifice over extravagance. I happen to know a little bit about sacrifice. Check out my Finance Friday tab if you're inclined. Good luck with #yeahwrite!

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    5. I didn't get the tongue-in-cheekness! I totally agree that they don't sound like the kind of people I'd want to fit in with either, if you got 'in' based on what you own and wear, rather than what kind of person you are.

      But I still uphold that, save for those people in really dire economic situations at present (and my heart goes out to them), almost every one of us in the west could trim a little fat.

      When you're comparing things to wells in Africa, even some things we would say are 'necessary' for our kids education, such as books, seem like a luxury, when there are children drinking diseased water, you know?

      I'm just saying, it's easy to say, 'I'd spend that money on a well', when we all have incredibly huge amounts of money in comparison to those who need access to clean water, however we spend it.

      The statement came across a bit blase, is all, but I obviously misinterpreted it.

      Happy to have found your blog - really enjoying it so far!

      Delete
  2. Well-said! A woman is not her purse. But if she were, your purse tells me you might be Mary Poppins :)

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    1. Mary did have a magic bag! Good connection! 'Cept I'm younger and not English. Although I have a really good fake accent!

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  3. I want to see a picture of this magical purse! I think I need one.
    And what you really need is a sherpa or else you are going to need a chiropractor. :) Ellen

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    1. I do need a Sherpa!
      AND I certainly need a chiropractor!
      But neither are in my future!
      Everyone wants to know my bag brand ... I'm sorta surprised!

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  4. I only have one child (right now!) who's of an age where I only need to carry a water bottle, some snacks and the er, iPad with me. I travel light so I only have my purse, house keys, car keys and phone, so my medium-sized carry-all tote bag works fine.

    BUT, in 2 months, baby #2 is coming. I need to bust out that diaper bag and break my shoulder. Again.

    Show us this magic bag of yours!

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    1. I will say diaper bags have come a long way since my first was born 16 years ago! I carried a free plastic pastel pink bunny bag courtesy of the the OB ward. Ha!
      But either way .. with another one on the way you are about to double it all up!! Have fun with that!

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  5. Mom jeans, step out of the way! Mom Bags have found a new definition!

    I've been a canvas bag carrier for far longer than I've been a mother. Now, at 42, I bought a real bag. Except it's a laptop bag. I still have to buy a "purse." Looking...looking. In the meantime, I'm using a cute bag, lined in crinkly plastic. And that's because it came with a potted plant in it! Yes, it was a flower delivery to my MIL and she handed the bag to me thinking I'd make use of it. People know me so well.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Aren't you amazed at how much attention bags and purses get from other women? I am. It's a BAG, people. It carries stuff. What's the big deal?
      Anyway, now that I've found the one for me I'm a happy bag lady!

      Delete
  6. There is a line I use whenever I want to purchase something I think is worth our hard-earned money. I'll say "it's not like I'm blowing it on a louis vuitton bag!" So I completely understand where you are coming from. I kinda think expensive purses are ridiculous. Purses that cost thousands of dollars? Please. I've got a 5yo, almost 4yo, 2.5yo, and a 4mo. It's gotta be big. It's gotta be durable. It's gotta be el cheapo.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. you get what I'm talkin about! thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  7. I love this. :) I hate carrying purses though. Lol. Now I know for a fact when I have a child, I will adopt the big duffel bag for all emergencies.

    I really enjoy your posts.

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    1. Thansk Ashely! And thanks for keeping coming back! I appreciate your visits!

      Delete
  8. Oh, I totally relate to this. My "style" (if such a thing exists) tends to run outdoorsey, so I end up using a backpack instead of diaper bag. But I have recently reconsidered - maybe too immature and not something I can easily reach into. So, I got a big woven basket looking bag, but it's just a large abyss with no pockets. Save me, I might actually have to get a diaper bag!

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    1. we are totally on the same page! i did a hand me down Vera Bradley backpack for ever and a basket purse one summer for pool days!

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  9. I'm one that always chooses functionality over fashion when it comes to my purse. I have to have lots of pockets so that everything can be put in a particular spot because I can't stand digging through a bottomless pit to find something. Also, I join in with the crowd that wants to know what bag you got. :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes! Pockets are a MUST!
      I finally got a lanyard for my keys so I would no longer dig to the bottom of my purse!

      I guess I need to divulge my purse brand. Gotta figure out how to get kickbacks first (haha)

      Delete
  10. Ha! I also don't get spending a lot of money on a bag. I carry a two-ton camera bag/purse combo out of which my boys and I could survive for at least a couple of days. . .

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    1. hmmm that's an interesting thought! I wonder how long I could survive out of my bag ....

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  11. I'm feeling very underprepared, with just a couple diapers, wipes, nursing cover, wallet, & chapstick! If I'm ever on a desert island, I hope you're with me! :-)

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  12. I live with 4 women. That means 9 purses/bags. rule of thumb w my wife and 3 daughters= big purse means you put little bitty things like batteries in it that are hard to find ina hurry. Little purse means you should huge things like court papers and groceries so that it looks overflowed.

    followed you on the twitter...i hope you complete the stalking circle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ((laughing out loud))
      -which by the way is waaay cooler than LOL -

      I will stalk you back. Thanks!

      Delete
  13. (sheepish) I have an inexpensive purse from Target that can fit my glasses, my wallet, a pocket for my phone, my pills, a camera and a book amongst other little things like 7 lipglosses, gum, a pen and dental floss. I'm so always dropping things I HAVE to go cheap.

    ~The G is Silent

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  14. So for real can you show me/tell me about the perfect purse for you. I still can't find one and I need it for the 4 small people that follow me around all day.

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  15. Ok here it is for those of you who want to know ..... I carry a Miche Bag.
    The large one (of course, yeah?)
    I have collected about 4 covers for it ... yellow, brown, red, canvas.

    http://www.michebag.com/

    p.s.
    Dear Miche, please send me some kickback!

    ReplyDelete

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