It may not be the baby bag I had always hoped I would carry but it means something else…

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.



  1. Ashley Nelly
    9th June / 5:02 pm

    This is one of your best posts! I relate. Chocolate on the face and all…

  2. Liz
    9th June / 5:08 pm

    As an almost 40 childless, but extremely well traveled women, I needed those words on a day like today that I was feeling a bit down. Sometimes I need a reminder that Im not child-less, Im adventure-full

  3. Emily
    9th June / 7:23 pm

    Absolutely love this and thank you for such a timely reminder!

  4. 9th June / 7:37 pm

    As always, your heartfelt words are truly beautiful. I always appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable in this space.
    Sending you so much love

  5. Emily Scott Banks
    9th June / 8:34 pm

    I love that you were fully living your life in that moment, and in my opinion that’s a glorious thing, and to be admired, not mocked for having a bit of delicious chocolate on your mouth. Who cares! 🙂

  6. Net
    9th June / 10:50 pm

    I love this so much! You bring so many such joy daily. I hope you know that!

  7. Magda
    9th June / 11:33 pm

    Beautiful piece. As an almost 40, new mum I can say I took for granted my travels in the past desperately trying for a child. I so wish we could cherish the moment here and now a bit more. Thank you for the post. You paint such beautiful pictures with your words.

  8. 10th June / 8:06 am

    Emily – I’ve been reading for years but this is my first comment. I want you to know how moved I am by your magic bag – how I remember the years I wondered how this was all going to turn out. I am so glad I didn’t have any set life plans, I didn’t follow a script – often this left me feeling like an outsider, but mostly it was thrilling. I left the smallest town in New Zealand to come to London. I had no idea what I was getting into! But the adventures – wow. Travelling the world and finding friends that become family, changing careers in my late-thirties, whole days lost to Pimms and picnics, others to falling into an entire book, a graduate degree in my forties, so many lovers, heartbreaks, and a couple of husbands too!
    Sometimes if you let yourself give in to life, it takes you to magical and unexpected places. Whatever happens, you’ve got you (and your bag). xx

  9. Gemma
    10th June / 10:26 am

    Love this. Thank you for sharing these difficult things so useful and insightful as always. Lots of love from Scotland xxxx

  10. Sarah
    10th June / 12:01 pm

    Thank you for so eloquently reflecting upon life’s twists and turns, Emily, and for allowing for and expressing such vulnerability. Is it selfish of me to wish that you would write a book, so that I could curl up with your words for longer than the length of a post? x

  11. 12th June / 1:29 pm

    That is a lovely handbag sweetie!

    Danielle |

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