I used to carry a big purse.

I would pride myself on being able to shove anything in my purse.  I had wipes, napkins, a big wallet with checks, Band-Aids, water, extra laces, Sharpies.  Everything anyone could ever need.  I would sometimes shove a book in there.  I liked having lots of stuff.  I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but in retrospect, I think it made me feel important, useful, busy, needed.

I’ve carried just a wallet for about two years now.

I’m not sure when I changed.  It could be that my children got older and I no longer felt the need to have tissues readily available.  That may be it, but I feel like it’s more.  I’m pretty sure it happened when I stopped planning for the worst, when I learned to let go.  I feel like the older I get the more things I let slide.

Granted when your children are older you can give them the responsibility of making sure their noses aren’t running.  That’s a great thing and at the same time it’s handing over control.  Trusting them to wipe their noses as well as you did.  It’s about pushing your own ego, your need to be needed, out of the way and defining yourself outside of being a mother or a wife.

When we were hiking I had my own pack.  It was filled with my water, my clothes, some snacks, the things I needed to make it through my trek.  There was no room for superfluous stuff, other’s possible needs.  No space for ego or rescue hero measures.

I haven’t felt so solitary in a very long time and this will sound strange, but my pack became my friend.  There was security and ownership in the simplicity of my own survival.  There were several lonely miles when it was just the two of us.  My pack relied on me to get her up the mountain and I relied on her to hold my water, my sleeping bag, and my clothes.  We were one, solo, alone.  It was interesting, freeing.

Maybe my wallet is my way of saying, “Hey, hope you have a tissue or a wipe for those hands because I’m not on duty.  I don’t have it.”  Every now and then I feel like I should have some Super Glue or a hotel room sewing kit at the ready, but it passes, everyone survives.

Growing up, growing into me, seems to be about shrinking, trimming and standing alone with myself.

It’s a little scary and I like that.

My thoughts from the laundry room.  Turning In.

adulthood hiking life Moms thoughts women

35 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Traveling with my son used to mean filling the van with showroom’s worth of childcare paraphernalia and being prepared for every possible kid-need scenario. Now he is 15 and all I need is some gas in my small Toyota, and money in my small wallet. He handles the rest. Your post took me back to more materially complicated times….

  2. What a good attitude to have toward luxuries like cell phones and ipads! I think whittling down our things and making priorities is a sign of maturity. I’ve no idea where you are on the age spectrum, but I have found the older I get the less I need. Thanks for this reflective post!

  3. This resonated with me, because I’ve always been pretty self-critical as the under-prepared mom. Your post helps me see it in a new light. Usually I just head off with a diaper and a few wipes and we take it from there.

  4. As someone who carries a big purse because I always find myself in need of water, chapstick, eyedrops and a book, I find the idea of carrying just a wallet rather appealing.

  5. That was such a brilliant way to look at an aspect of life. Shrinking and trimming we all are. You are not living in solitude, have faith 🙂

  6. My purse is a medium-to-big size, but I carry inside it one of those all-purpose wallets with a strap and a pocket for my phone. It’s occurred to me that carrying this inside the bigger bag is a little bit ridiculous. I have a feeling I’m in transition!

  7. I’m only a year into being a first-time mom (not counting my boyfriend) but the line “No space for ego or rescue hero measures.” made my heart clench. It’s all stressful and tiring but, again being so new, I dread the day where I’m not “needed” anymore. Even for the tiniest things. It is a ego thing though, this much is true.

  8. I’m the opposite. I never started carrying a bag til I was older, and I still don’t have a handbag! I however, still only carry the bare minimum I can get away with. Key, pen, phone charger, purse. Whereas my sister has a minimum of 7 pens, 2 hairbrushes, purse 4 lipsticks 3 bottles of perfume 1 key with 9 keyrings, tissues, headphones, bus pass all in their own individual bags and 3 years worth of receipts in a bag less than a fortnight old.

    I think a lot of it is ‘expected’ and a security blanket.

    • Security blanket…Yes! It really becomes so many things. Your sister seems like she has one of those fun bags you want to dump out on a table and just go exploring. 🙂 Thanks for reading and your comment.

  9. My wife and I empathize. The needs we had when the children were young have now staged out and are in the garage in boxes. Memories which are now stored away and brought out rarely. We need to downsize and have a garage sale.

  10. I keep paring down and paring down . . . and it’s freedom. Pure freedom. From a linen closet, to a night table, to my purse–less is freedom. Right there with you:).

    • Ah, the linen closet. It really is freeing in all areas. I try to turn things over and move on. I feel like I notice what I have left, appreciate what has been picked from the pile. Thanks for reading and relating, Kay.

  11. Ha! This is brilliant! My mum always had her Mary Poppins bag, everything that you could possibly need was always in there, but she’s started to scale back now that we’re older. Now I have inherited the huge bag syndrome. Or rather; I actually buy bags depending on their ability to hold both a book, a notebook, a pen and my purse. (and if there are pockets in there it’s even better) I think it’s nice though, to sometimes just go out of the house with nothing, just see whether you can get along without all that stuff.
    Welcome home!

    • Mary Poppins bag…that’s exactly what I was going for. Hahaha. I think I may have started by going out of the house every now and then with just the wallet. At some point I must have just decided I didn’t need anything else, because I used to really love a bag with pockets too. Thanks, Alys! It’s nice to be home.

  12. What a great read and a metaphor for life. You should submit it to this week’s writing challenge over at yeahwrite.me. Go check ’em out if you want. I think you could win. More importantly, people who write well will read and comment on your beautiful writing. This is no plug. I don’t work for them. I’ve been writing and submitting for a few weeks now and enjoying reading others’ stories. 🙂

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