I have a thing for great handbags.
It’s my vice. Some women love a glass of chilled white in the afternoon, others a sneaky cigarette. For me it’s all about the handbag.
I run a handbag budget, separate to our household spending budget. It’s a little fund that only I know about. A fund that means a couple of times a year I can add to my bag collection.
I can’t fully explain my fascination with designer handbags – it’s their look and feel; the belief that some part of me is still fashionable and of course (but not always) there’s the functionality.
I’m sure the trendy salespeople who man the handbag shops have no idea just what I plan to inflict on my bags.
If they did they may well refuse to sell them to me.
Because as most mums will attest, when you have kids your handbag becomes your little ‘home away from home’.
It’s the rescue kit for all manner of situations – situations you could never have imagined pre-kids.
A mother’s handbag is her Aladdin’s Cave. Delve into the depths and you’ll find a fix for most horror scenarios.
Cut knee, broken arm, overtired kid screaming in the supermarket, hungry child in the car, second pair of shoes for ritzy lunch with school mums. You name it you’ll probably find it in a mother’s handbag.
That’s why my collection features some BIG bags. I’ve tried to make do with those cute, tiny ones but let’s be honest – there’s no way I’d make it through the day with the limited supplies small bags hold.
So big it is.
Part of the reason my bag budget allows for regular new purchases is because of the carnage that’s inflicted on them.
In a normal woman’s life they might last a couple of years. But I’m no normal woman. I’m a mum of two young boys and that means my handbag is assaulted on the inside and the out.
On any given day my bag will house an artillery of toys – Hot Wheels cars, Nerf Bullets, Lego men, Transformers and Ben 10 characters.
There is always food in my bag … in varying states of decay.
This food has saved me from imminent disaster on many occasions.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that food fixes most child-related crises. Screams – theirs and yours – will subside when a yummy pack of muesli bars, some crackers, or a chocolate is proffered.
However carrying food in your bag also opens you up to a whole new avenue of bag disasters.
Many times I’ve been shocked to discover the sticky, rotting remains of a sweet treat as I reach for my keys. The interior of my favourite handbag was destroyed by these snacks. And of course in those situations there’s only one solution – buy a new bag.
I took solace in an article in the weekend paper, which revealed I’m not the only mum whose handbag hides some dark secrets.
Queensland mums recently revealed the extent of the treasures hidden in their handbags. The revelations make my bag confessions seem pedestrian.
A bird skull, a door knob, spray cheese, four grenades, a potato and a yolk separator were just some of the things ‘discovered’ in their handbags.
I’m not surprised by these discoveries. I know how quickly your beautifully-ordered handbag can go from ‘keys, wallet, sunglasses’ to ‘dead lizard, tree branch, gecko poo, interesting rock shaped like a dinosaur.’
Seriously. It happens.
‘Mum, can you carry this fossil I just unearthed in the park?’ they ask.
Clearly there is only one correct response. Yes.
Take it from me, if you say yes and then discard the fossil, the (gecko) poo will hit the fan when they get home to find you’ve dumped their treasure.
It’s really better for all concerned to throw their latest find into your bag and ensure peace reigns for another day.
And that my friends is why I have such a large bag and why it’s always so full with the most incredible stuff.
My husband shakes his head as he watches me dig deep and pull out half the toy room, a tube of paint, a permanent marker pen, a gadget loaded with Octonauts, half a packet of rice crackers, a spare change of clothes, two packets of wipes (because one is never enough), LED torch, keys to something, bills, band-aids, a splint, spare bra, phone charger, a bottle of water and two pairs of earrings.
Nope, sorry darling, don’t seem to have a pen in here, I tell my disbelieving husband.
He doesn’t need to say it because I can read the look on his face: ‘How can you NOT have a pen in that enormous bag?’
I have tried to explain that a mother’s handbag really is her emergency magic kit. It must contain a ‘fix it’ for almost any situation.
And THAT is why it’s nearly time for me to update my bag collection with a fresh, new, clean model just waiting to be filled with life’s essentials.