Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Anatomy of a Mom Purse

There are lots of jokes about how women have to give up on carrying adorable little handbags once they have other adorable little things to carry - namely, babies.

Of course, the real joke is that it isn't a joke.

New mothers kiss their dainty purses goodbye, and prepare to cram all their precious essentials into a tiny mesh side pocket on their new 231-gallon diaper sack for the next several years.

Sure, it's sad at first. You miss being able to sling your bag over the back of your chair at a restaurant without blocking the path between tables or knocking your server unconscious. You can't leave the house without restocking more items than the night crew at your local Baby Crap Emporium. You might start to resent the fact that carrying so many tubes of lanolin, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer frequently causes you to smear diaper cream all over your hands instead of lotion.

Fear not - it doesn't last forever. But to be totally honest, you don't get your purse back right away.

Once you leave the Diaper Bag Phase, you enter the Mom Purse Phase. It's smaller, yes, but you're still the family's equivalent of a Sherpa to mountaineers, lugging around every item someone might conceivably need as they venture out into dangerous parts of the world that they're unqualified to navigate without you (like Wal-Mart).

I'm about to get "purse-onal" (go ahead and roll your eyes, you knew it was coming) and prove it by dumping out my bag on the dining room table (I told  you we had one) and showing you what I, a Real-Life Mom, would be toting around with me in the event I ever actually left the house.

  1. A stylish bag is essential - I picked this one up at a garage sale for $2.
  2. Coin purse that contains my kids' college funds - in pennies - and weighs more than everything else in the purse combined
  3. Paperwork. This is a broad category including a volunteer sheet for school (still blank - oops), a stranger's school photo, a doctor's referral I never followed up on, a sweepstakes entry I never filled out for a giveaway that ended last July, Goodwill coupons (score!), and a sticker we picked up at the Apple Store to (unsuccessfully) distract the baby while we complained about our bill.
  4. Gift card to a spa, the interior of which I don't expect to ever see
  5. Edibles. Half a confiscated blue candy cane, a pack of gum (empty), expired Tylenol
  6. A small hand, because it isn't a Mom Purse unless a child's hand is in there trying to grab something they aren't supposed to have.
  7. "Make Up" bag. In quotes because, these days, my make up bag contains two hair bands, a Tide stain stick (dried out and useless), one of those rubbery tubes you slide onto a pen to make it grippy, and mint lip balm I got from the dentist's office. Clearly my beauty regimen isn't what it used to be.
  8. Wallet. Contains one of everything on Earth made of paper, except money
  9. Clothing. Mismatched baby socks and breast pads, because... of course
  10. Toys. I did a purge a few weeks ago, so we're down to one cheap pinball game, crayons, a pen and a tube of Aquaphor (which count as a toys because the baby likes them).
  11. Sunglasses belonging to...?
  12. Cleaning supplies. Ancient hand wipes, wadded up napkins (probably clean)
  13. Plastic bag to contain a dirty diaper, in case I need to perform clean-up duty on the go. Please note that I'll be totally hosed if that happens, as there's currently no diaper in the Mom Purse inventory.
  14. Pad, for "Mommy accidents" or situations when I might laugh or sneeze suddenly. Luckily it's wrapped in plastic, since it appears to be covered in pencil shavings, just like everything else in my purse, even though I don't have a pencil in there
So, what about your purse? Is it a hot mess, or do you still carry around a tiny clutch with nothing but lipstick and an ID inside? Is it organized and tidy, or would the erupted contents of your ginormous Mom Purse even fit on your dining room table?

Tell me all about it in the comments (I need moral support), then stop by to visit my friend Kelley on the Kelley's Break Room Facebook page to check out other people's purses. To make people feel better, Kelley posted her own bag today, which she aptly refers to as "a garbage can with straps" - then you can even submit a picture of your own!

For the record, I put everything right back in my purse after I took this picture, including the broken candy cane. No, I'm not proud of myself, but I know you'll click the banner below anyway! Won't you???
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Unknown said...

I've passed the mom purse stage, but then I never really got into it. I couldn't keep one on my shoulder and still keep up with the demon toddler.

Just don't ever ask me to dump my pockets. I think I've got more in my coat pockets than you do in your purse.

Kristy said...

Oh yeah, I definitely rock a "mom purse!" My chiropractor told me it's the heaviest he has ever seen/felt. Somehow I don't think he meant that as a compliment. :/ There's actually only a couple items in there for me - my wallet, a card holder thing to hold the million store rewards cards I have, a coin purse (yes, also possibly the heaviest item in there), a coupon wallet (complete with lots of expired coupons, because I always forget to go through it!), some chapstick (yeah, that's my beauty routine!), and a handful of pads and tampons and breast pads, just in case. Then I also have a diaper changing pad (public restrooms are nasty!!) in the event I ever need to use one, little baggies to put dirty diapers in, baby wipes, diapers, a bib, several pouches of organic baby food for when either needs a snack, and a water bottle for my youngest. Whew! No wonder I have back problems...

BadParentingMoments said...

I have ALL of this in my purse except replace the small hand with fake teeth (obviously) and no pad, BUT, I'm about to rectify that because having a pad in my purse is just smart planning.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I had vampire teeth in my purse too!

My childless Sister In Law gave me a completely ADORABLE evening bag for Christmas-for all the dates I don't go on with my husband. As much as I LOVE it, I don't even think I could fit my wallet in there. My daughters are lurking, angling for me to bequeath it to one of them.

LA Botchar said...

Oh honey.... forgive me for asking, but only ONE mom purse? really.
I got 3 different "mom purse" versions depending on which child(ren) is/are with me and where I will be going. Play date mom purse looks slightly different from church mom purse, which is different than "out all day" mom purse (the biggest - obviously).
On top of that? Each child's former diaper bag is in the trunk of the van with a couple change of clothes, books, toys, etc. because you never know the old van could break down and I would be stranded on a dark, lonely highway with only a run down, creepy old motel to spend the night in. Because, of course, my life is like a campy horror movie.
It's sad.....but, there will be clean underwear for all!

Anonymous said...

I still have a Mom Purse and my kids are 10 and 7. You'd think the size of my purse would be back to the size of something that doesn't require 5 hours a week of weight-lifting just to pick it up off the floor, but sadly, NO! Once the kids get out of needing hand-held toys, crayons and paper, and belts for when they realize that their pants keep falling down when they chase their siblings around the parking lot after you told them 1 MILLION times to STOP! they will then require you to get a tote the size of a diaper bag to carry all the valuable electronics they received for Christmas. Again, you will be happy to carry your now 47.8 pound overnight bag (<--people ask me all the time if the manufacturer makes larger size luggage) to ensure your spoiled children's items are safe! You want to know what's in my purse?? Wallet (contains cash now because of a tooth fairy incident on Christmas Eve); coin purse (always empty because my kids just might win a free cheeseburger from the St. Jude's thing on McDonalds' counter); camera; crayons (because we get them free and now I don't have to buy pens); chap stick; tic-tacs (I have a 10 year old that brushes his teeth about as well as I would play football); and Nintendo 3ds (x2), a Kindle (loaded with game apps), a Nook (again loaded with game apps), an old iPhone that we download games to for the kids, and most importantly MY phone that I use more for listening to music (with headphones!!) than using in any other manner.

RobynHTV said...

You're right, they're NOT conducive to carrying babies, or chasing toddlers, or really doing anything else. Using your pockets is a great idea, but my pockets are always filled with tissues for some reason. And my iPhone, covered in tissue lint.

RobynHTV said...

I was going to say that, once a professional tells you your bag is too heavy, you might need to lighten your load. But then I read your inventory and I'm reminded that everything in our massive bags is mandatory! I think it should be up to the manufacturers to just make lighter stuff, eh?

RobynHTV said...

I carry my fake teeth in my sock (for obvious reasons) but I highly recommend adding a pad to your purse collection. It only takes one time when you don't have to walk around Target with wadded up paper towels in your pans for it to pay off.

RobynHTV said...

I won a gorgeous clutch from the lovely Because My Life Is Fascinating, and I've had one opportunity to take it anywhere but no one saw it because it was in the diaper bag. My daughter is circling like a hungry shark, too ;)

RobynHTV said...

You're my Situation preparedness hero! I have several full purses, but I only carry one for years at a time. Going through my bag collection is like an archeological dog of my life - scraps and remnants from my single life in one, young baby days in another, office working life in another... I should clean them out and use your system!

RobynHTV said...

That is AWESOME! Love this list. And you know there's no real hope of getting your purse completely back - even little old ladies in their 80s carry around those hard peppermint candies, just in case. ;)

Amanda said...

I consistently clean out my purse, usually while I am waiting for the husband while my son is napping in the car seat on the weekend store runs. However, my purse is like an evil worm hole which sucks every piece of garbage in a 10 mile radius. My kids aren't even that little anymore. I have a 7 year old and a 4 year old! Yet my purse houses toys, snacks, wipes, kleenexes, and the paper trail of everywhere we have been in the past week. I am only a little ashamed to admit that I actually grabbed out the diaper bag to use last week, as we were headed for tests at the hospital, and I knew that even my massive mom-bag wasn't going to handle the crap I brought to keep my daughter entertained, and hopefully distracted. (It worked!) This sounds pretty reasonable though, right? Well my husband agreed, until he realized that I hadn't changed back to my regular purse 5 days later. I found I actually missed the roomy diaper bag! Though not as much as I miss my stroller when shopping... you mean I have to HOLD MY BAGS?!

Meredith said...

I have a fully stocked diaper bag AND a mom purse! That is just sad. I have one who is about to turn one and a 2.5 year old in the endless stage of potty training...my hopes of getting back to cute and stylish anytime soon are fading!

Unknown said...

When my husband offers to stay at home for an afternoon on the weekends, I go out somewhere SUPER fun (Target). Sans diaper bag, doves fly out of my garage (or ass, not sure which), angels sing, and I have to check myself to be sure I put on pants; the freedom of no diaper bag is that rewarding!
On a day to day basis however, I can't complain. The content of my character-filled diaper bag is usually pretty standard...except for those unfortunate times when my son has a poop in public and I forget to remove the diaper (we use cloth) for a few days. It's moments like these when my husband's "I told you so" face is validated in his argument against going green.

RobynHTV said...

It is nice to have all that space, and as much as it stinks to lug all that stuff around, there's no substitute for having exactly what your kid needs at exactly the right time to avoid a meltdown. :) P.S. 7 and 4 are totally reasonable ages to still have at LEAST that much stuff (so says the lady with more stuff in her purse for her 8 and 10 year olds than the baby).

RobynHTV said...

Believe me, I have a diaper bag too, for more serious outings - babies are definitely not conducive to high style, are they? ;)

RobynHTV said...

You can assure your husband that NO diaper is very pleasant after hanging out in the bag for a few days (Lord knows I would know) - though I guess I don't have to rinse mine out... Then again I'm killing the environment, so I'm pretty sure you're doing waaaaaay better than me. :)

And let me say, I love - love - your description of going to Target without the diaper bag. Yes, *exactly.*

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

I clean mine out every once and a while. After my fifth was born, I was so tired of carrying diaper bags, I bought the biggest purse I could find. I stuff way too much unnecessary crap in there. I really need to downsize for the sake of my shoulder.

RobynHTV said...

I hear you. It's just that every time I try to downsize, there's a voice in my head that says, "if you take it out, the next time we're out someplace it'll be exactly the thing you need." So all the junk stays. I think of it as insurance that I'll never need it.

Seul said...

I've a yu-gi-oh wallet (bought by my son with chuck e cheese tickets 'cause I needed a "nice wallet)
A pocket knife that costs ten times what the purse did (in fairness, I did buy it at goodwill)
Three pieces of gum ... wrappers? Hey!
Two bottles of meds (because one isn't enough when you're shopping with kidlets)
Coin purse (to hold quarters for the ball machine so that I can willingly pay money for toys that *leap* out into the road by themselves.)
plastic 'dayrunner' which I loathe and I'm stuck with for another 11 months (Merry Christmas mom!)
lipstick that's been in there so long walmart discontinued the color. And the suggested one that replaced it.

RobynHTV said...

I can almost feel the plasticy heft of the hated dayrunner, but your yu-gi-oh wallet takes every prize in the book! Thanks so much for reading and sharing :)

Unknown said...

I too have a mom purse and a diaper bag. I have both fully stocked for the apocalypse. Lol. And I can finally stack them comfortably while carrying my daughter on the same arm and wrangling my son with my free hand. These are skills u only learn as a mom or soldier. Im proud to be a multitasker. Lol

TNMom said...

I have recently decided to try the big, one section, toss it all in and the important stuff (wallet, keys, phone) DIVES to the very bottom, mom purse. My facebook status the other day was "How many packs of fruit snacks do you have in your purse? I have 3." Your inventory looks like you stole (my favorite non word is stold - LOL!) my purse, really! Pencil shavings - where in the??? Tissue lint on my phone - yes! It is so funny, I have those exact kinds of misc papers! And grocery store recipts, like incase I need to return the milk.
I think next time I buy a purse, in 17 years, I will go back to the sectioned kind. Cause you know, I have a bunch of time to be searching 5 different sections for my keys, they're never in the first section I look in.
I love this post so much!! <3 Devan

RobynHTV said...

It is kind of a badge of honor to have that balancing act mastered, isn't it? Thanks for being here!

RobynHTV said...

Sadly, it never even occurred to me to question why I keep grocery receipts - except it did come in handy the one time I had to send my husband back to the store to indignantly demand a replacement for the 2-pound container of strawberries they charged us for but didn't give us.

Now ask me if we found the original package of strawberries under a bag of chips in the pantry a week later. Umm, yes.

MKS365Project said...

I have just one child, an 8-yr old girl so my purse situation (thank god) isn't too dire and the purse is pretty cute but if you ever need a pair of plastic happy meal sunglasses, a random barbie hand or foot, or my electric bill pymt stub from 3, maybe 4 months ago, then I'm your gal. But what I should really do is take down my mail box and just set my purse outside for the mailman instead because that's where a majority of the mail ends up anyways. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN!? And the grocery store receipts!? They drive me crazy. Great post! It gave me a much needed laugh on a snowy morning.

RobynHTV said...

I used to refer to my purse as "the filing cabinet" because of all the paperwork and mail - so glad I'm not the only one! ;)

The Dose of Reality said...

You are SO right!! You go from diaper bag to MOM PURSE.
Your "small hand" entry made me howl! That is truth right there. Bwahahaha.
My purse is a hot mess. A HEAVY hot mess.

Lori said...

I totally need a coin purse. Last week, I could't even close my wallet because of the coins. Oh, well, in Canada today is the last day they are even making a penny the toonies and loonies really add up : )

Bridget said...

Everything? You put everything back in your purse? Makes perfect sense. ;)

Wayne W Smith said...

As a guy, this week's listicles frighten me greatly.

RobynHTV said...

I wouldn't have even thought of the hand, except it was there every single time I tried to take a picture - of course. ;)

RobynHTV said...

Canada isn't making pennies anymore??? You guys really *are* smarter than us. I've been campaigning (silently, in my head) to get rid of pennies for ages. I hope it helps your wallet situation - if so, could I trouble you to send a letter to my government asking them to get with the program?

RobynHTV said...

Well, I *just* cleaned it out a few months ago - why do it again now? ;)

RobynHTV said...

I'll bet! Up until now, the interior or purses was top secret - now you've seen things you can never unsee. Muahahahaha!

Christine said...

The coin purse/college fund cracked me up. It is amazing how heavy those little coins can be. Better for the kids that it's heavy, though. :)
I laughed when you said you put it all back in the purse. I ended my post asking how many people did just that.

RobynHTV said...

Agreed, I guess I'd rather have too much change than none! :)

Mel said...

I dumped out my massive mom-purse and found:
- 3 pairs of dangly earrings, because it apparently took me 3 separate occasions of baby-ear-yanking to figure out I should just leave jewelry at home.
- Two half-empty water bottles, which explains the weird sloshing sound whenever I carry my purse.
- A pile of empty snack packages that was supposed to make it to the garbage can "when we got home".
- 17 hairclips, most of them pink with little flowers on them.
- 4 "pretty rocks" from the brief fascination stage my toddler son had with rocks.
- 6 pens, none of which work, and 4 crayons(which work, but are also covered with random crumbs and lint).
- Mostly empty mini first-aid kit.
- 3 tampons and 3 sanitary pads.
- 2 pairs of underwear my daughter outgrew over a year ago.
- A million tissues, hand wipes and baby wipes.
- Plain black "replacement" t-shirt that I can change into just in case one of my kids gets my shirt dirty. Of course, after sitting in the bag for so long, the replacement shirt is now too dirty to wear.
- A book I started reading in the last few months of my first pregnancy - 7 years later, still not finished.
- Wallet, 3 checkbooks, coin purse and 4.39$ of loose change rolling around the bottom of the bag.
- Gazillion tissues.
- Enough crumbs to feed the ducks at the pond.
- And the crowning glory: the remote to the DVD player that husband lost and we have been looking for for the past 3 months.

RobynHTV said...

I'm laughing so hard, I'm crying. The rocks. The outgrown underwear. The remote!?! The worst of it is, I'm totally jealous - all I could think was, "Wow, she's really well stocked!" :)

Stasha said...

Love it. Tiny hands are to blame for big purses. I have everything but money in mine too!

RobynHTV said...

Well said! Thanks for hosting! :)

Enica said...

Lol It doesn't get better any time soon. I have young teenagers and besides the parent-homework that schools are always having them bring home, they still need tissuea/napkins/wipes (I carry all 3); bandaids (just in case); small stapler, white out, highlighters (for school needs), and extra pens for when they forget that they need one everyday; plus I am constantly being handed books and DSs and iPods or an iPad to hold when they're done with them (plus emergency chargers for all of our electronic crap). *sigh* Diaper Bag to Mom Purse to Family Purse. College?

RobynHTV said...

Hahaha, you're so right! But I think in college you still have to carry a huge purse, for all those tuition bills and rolls of quarters for their laundry. ;) Maybe when we retire???

Stacie said...

Ya know...I've always had one in diapers so I've always carried the diaper bag. I have never thought about what my "purse situation" will be once the youngest is potty trained. For now my bag includes all the diapering essentials, four types of wipes (regular baby wipes, flushable toddler wipes, boogie wipes, and antibacterial wipes), small medicine bag with the first aid basics, change of clothes for the baby in a ziploc baggie (comes in handy when you need a place for the soiled outfit), my wallet, disposable tabletop placemats, and the sippy cup and snacks get tossed in as we leave the house.

RobynHTV said...

You sound SO together! I especially love the 4 different kinds of wipes - truly all essentials (sadly), as is a collection of Accident Baggies. :)

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