I’M shopping for a new handbag. For me, this is a big deal. It’s been quite a few years since I went handbag shopping.
What was once a regular pleasure, indeed an obsession, became a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence for a decade while our kids were really young.
For a decade, life and fashion have been dominated by the logistics of parenthood. Style was overwhelmed by practicality and especially carrying capacity. With two young kids, my handbags got progressively bigger and bigger as they became the repository for all sorts of child and family essentials.
In the end I’ve favoured a very large, over-the-shoulder bag distinguished by size and practicality. Not so many years ago it was a wonder to behold. Tucked away in its numerous sections and pockets there were nappies, wipes, clothes and shoes, containers of food and drink, containers of old food and drinks that had been forgotten about, spoons, medical supplies, plastic bags for dealing with the consequences of accidents and incidents, all sorts of toys, kids’ electronic devices and books, pens, pencils, spare paper and other art materials. There was just about everything, except the kitchen sink.
At times the weight of the whole bag and its contents seemed enough to dislocate my shoulder. Once the kids got into “Dr Who”, they picked up on my description of my handbag as the Tardis – bigger on the inside than the outside.
My kids are older and largely carry their own stuff these days. Still, the habit of carrying around an enormous, heavy handbag has stayed with me.
There isn’t so much kids’ stuff in there anymore and my own stuff has also started to build up again including a laptop for work, all sorts of business papers and other clutter. So I’ve kept struggling along, schlepping a heavy load, ready for any contingency.
It had really become a habit that I didn’t think about until a very good friend recently took pity on me, and took the initiative in unpacking all the unnecessary and heavy items from the Tardis.
In a couple of minutes she lightened my load by many kilograms. Suddenly, I was liberated and free with the realisation that I really didn’t need to carry around so much anymore.
The danger is that I’ll revert to old habits and refill the Tardis with all sorts of stuff – just to be on the safe side in case we need something while travelling or are just out and about. Well, the cure for that is a smaller handbag – something fashionable, nowhere near as practical but which won’t allow me to be overburdened. So I’m off to the shops.
It’s another stage of parenthood that goes so fast. It seems that it was only yesterday that the kids were toddlers and that we couldn’t go anywhere without a logistical effort comparable to that required for a medium-sized military campaign.
While I’m back in the handbag market, looking at my battered and soon to be retired Tardis, I’m a little sad: kids grow up too quickly.