I was thinking the other day about pregnant women and hospital bags. Random, but stick with me on this.
In this lifetime, I haven’t been pregnant. I haven’t been a mother. I haven’t carried a hospital bag nor have I carried a diaper bag or any of the very many bags that mothers carry over the course of their child’s life. I know my mom juggled plenty of bags in her time, raising four of us to adulthood. She was the Mary Poppins of my life, always nearby with something magical in her tote for whatever the moment, always precisely the thing I needed. That’s the miracle of a mom.
Being single and without children, my bags don’t have that Mary Poppins quality to them, or so I thought.
One moment changed my whole perspective…
I was on a press trip in Paris and was sitting in a cafe early one morning for a coffee, croissant and a serious people-watching-session. I sat next to an older gentleman, who was simply sitting, smoking and sipping. Nothing more, nothing less. I placed my bag on the chair next to me and began my morning ritual. I took out my journal, two pens, my phone, a camera and a few post it notes with gibberish scribbled in red pen atop their yellow hue. I knew what I was writing about that morning. I had just received a group Whatsapp photo. It was an ultrasound. Another one of my friends from home was expecting. I was over the moon, but also dealing with my own personal emotions that were something other than joy. So, I was sitting there thinking I’d work through that with a pain au chocolate and an extra creamy latte before the day’s work kicked off. Where better to do it than in a cafe in Paris, bundled up in ten layers and seeking refuge in sugary sweet carbohydrates?
Just as I had my pen to paper and was ready to spill my every thought out onto the page, I noticed the man next to me staring and smirking, a look of disbelief on his face. He leaned forward and exclaimed “are you Mary Poppins? Do you also have a tea pot in your magical bag?”
I didn’t, in fact, have a tea pot in that bag. But, I had emergency cash stashed in a hideaway compartment, tissues, handywipes, a Tide stain stick, a travel makeup bag, bandaids, bister kits, a water bottle, and much more.
It turned out, my magical Mary Poppins bag was a bag made for travel, made for adventure, made for life altering moments and building incredible memories. In a way, that makes it exactly like a “mom bag,” as those are all the things I thought my mom’s bags were ready for with us… magic and memories.
Instead of sitting there and writing about my blues at not being a mother, one man’s flippant comment completely turned me in another direction. I sat and wrote about how I potentially had been seeing all of this wrong. I wrote about being ungrateful and needing to truly find another path to change that. I couldn’t make my pen work fast enough. And then, just as I was feeling smug and successful in this new knowledge, the waiter came over to remove my empty latte glass. He sort of rolled his eyes, laughed and walked away. I sensed I had somehow been very “American” without realising. How? I couldn’t tell you. I had an instant terrible feeling I might have had something on my face. I took out my phone and noticed that in my hurry to write, I had devoured my pain au chocolate and failed to notice that it didn’t all go in my mouth. I had a blob of chocolate resting between my cheek and lip, on the right side. How that happened I will never be able to explain. It did, however, and it brought me right back down to earth. That good old universe delivering the messages in not so subtle ways…
It’s all just to say, ladies, that life may not look exactly as we had always dreamed. It may have twisted and turned down paths we could have never seen coming. But sometimes the smallest tweak in perspective can alter everything. For me, this change in how I saw my life and the blessings I had in other ways helped me understand and come to terms with other things that weren’t in my path. I can’t pretend to understand why, but I can certainly try and be grateful for everything else.
Note: The bag pictured above is a beautiful bag from Paravel, a brand I have loved and admired for many years and has always made the perfect companion on many travels. This bag, pictured, was kindly gifted.