I was only a few months along with baby #2 when I started looking for a bigger diaper bag. I ended up getting an “overnight” travel bag, and it was so massive that I kept it hooked to my double stroller at all times.
That bag was epic – always full of snacks, diapers, water bottles, toys, changes of clothes and anything else a mom of two kids under two might possibly need. Toddler getting restless at the restaurant? No problem, there are crayons and puzzles in the bag. Baby had three blow-outs in a row? Don’t worry, there are enough diapers, wipes and outfits in there for 15 blowouts – and plenty of cheddar bunnies to keep big sister busy. I even carried a mini pop-out potty and liner bags.
That giant diaper bag gave me the confidence to go forth into the world during a very uncertain time. I’m sure there are many days I would have stayed home without it. When I felt totally maxed out and crazy, it was the physical embodiment of my competence. I repacked it in the evenings after the kids went to bed, always keeping it fully stocked and ready to go.
Look at me, that bag said to the world – and more importantly, to me – I am so on top of this.
But a funny thing happened when the third baby joined our pack. I got rid of the diaper bag. I now carry an old mini backpack with a few diapers, one pair of tiny pants, a small bag of wipes, and a single water bottle to share. If we’re going to be gone awhile, I’ll toss a few apples or crackers in there. If we are just going to the park, I won’t bring anything at all.
That’s right, people: I was leaving the house with a newborn, a three-year-old and a five-year-old and nothing but the clothes on our back and the baby buckled to my front. And it was fine.
It’s not that the baby doesn’t ever have blow-outs, that the children don’t jump into the fountain after I tell them not to. That there aren’t complaints over the lack of awesome snacks. It’s that my mentality about the whole thing has shifted.
I’ve recognized that you just can’t control every situation this crazy job throws you into – and that’s OK. I’ve wiped a poopy bottom with paper towels and water in a public bathroom, I’ve bought my kids snacks from a vending machine, I’ve held my three-year-old steady while she pees behind a tree. Heck, I’ve even stood sentry as my six-year-old pees behind a tree.
I no longer need to project competency over every aspect of parenting. I don’t need all of the things to keep me on top of my game. I AM on top of my game. Well, and also I’m really not. And that’s fine by me. I guess I’m just not as self-conscious about my freak show as I used to be.
Also, I’ve got enough to worry about without having to lug along a diaper bag and stroller everywhere I go. These days, I feel like if I had to corral all the things I might need in an average day, I would never be able to make it out of the house.
And I really, really want to get out of the house.
About the Author
Shawna Gamache is a former newspaper reporter and co-founder of the local blog Moms Alive. She is mama to Ruby, 4, Quinn, 6, and Nora, 14 months. In her quiet moments, Shawna loves writing, knitting and avoiding eye contact with her laundry pile.