Motherfessions Tales from the "Hood"

In the bag

Posted: Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hello. My name is Jacki and I have a confession. I’m a bag lady. I now know that I’m not alone and that millions of moms spend their days at least half in the bag. For years I’ve lived in denial and concealed my secret under the guise of living a stereotypical suburban existence — minivan, cell phone, Birkenstocks and all. But, truth be told, I am a bona fide, certified, honest-to-goodness, tote-carrying, backpack-packing, luggage-lugging, purse-packing, duffle-dragging, grocery sack-slinging, garbage bag-groping, diaper bag-wielding bag lady.

I’ve probably harbored latent tendencies towards “bagladyhood” since childhood. As far back as I can recall I’ve been bagging it. There was the school bag, the lunch bag, slumber party bag, baseball bag and the going to Grandma’s bag (of course that bag always had clean underwear in it). My Barbie had a pink travel case of her own and I routinely carried her entire wardrobe, little itty-bitty shoes and all, everywhere I went.

The next few years went by quickly. Some people wear different hats, I just switched bags. Book bags gave way to briefcases, but I was relatively a-symptomatic during my early adult years.

My serious bag ladylike behavior kicked in about six months into my first pregnancy. I packed that going to the hospital bag with the type of obsessiveness and meticulousness usually reserved for international treaty negotiations or laproscopic surgery. I packed everything from dental floss to booties, from aerosol hair spray to two zippered bunting bags (one pink and one blue, of course). The diaper bag was added to my repertoire of bags and the baby fit fairly well into my life activities.

Then it all just kind of hit me, like a mugger is hit with a brick-laden purse, I was on my fifth diaper bag, nearing midlife and the reality of my situation became as clear as one of those trendy little transparent bags (by the way, who thought that up? Who, in their right mind, would want to advertise what type of weird junk one hauls around?). Anyway, I could deny the truth no longer: I had become a bag lady.

Like I was saying, I remember the day of truth. It was a day most like any other. I hauled out two bags of trash to the shed, loaded the diaper bag, my purse, two swim bags, one karate bag, a bat bag and five kids into the van. Baby and I went shopping. Later, I picked up the backpack-laden little darlings from their various activities and we returned home. I had 37 bags in all to haul into the house, sort through and unpack. I wondered if there were a bag lady anonymous group in my community. If so, would it be held as a brown bag lunch forum?

My bagging isn’t confined my mom duties , either. From camping to a trip to the dentist, I’m at it. All I have to know is that I’m leaving the comfort of my home and I’m packing.

Now, there are good things about being a bag lady. When I cruise through town and a sudden attack of hunger attacks precisely when the golden M comes into view, I can reach into one of many bags and voila, out comes a neatly wrapped nutritious and delicious snack. This saves a lot of cash and calories. I also have stocked: a first aid kit, spare change, feminine protection as well as a plethora of other necessary paraphernalia. I’m not only a bag lady; I am an overgrown Girl Scout of a bag lady, prepared for any occasion from nuclear meltdown to a hangnail.

The downside of being a bag lady? Finally finding the swim bag that was misplaced six months ago and discovering I’ve incubated a new strain of mold — and was that peanut butter or a ham sandwich? Or how about grabbing for a first aid kit while at an ice rink only to promptly produce a tampon? Humiliating.

I don’t know what normal people worry about. I have an irrational fear of dying before I get my bags cleaned out. I can only imagine my friends and family as they sort through the contents of my new SUV’s emergency bag. Flares, jumper cables, collapsible fishing pole, tackle, a neatly folded nightie and clean underwear? Hey, you never know.

I don’t know if I’ll ever overcome this apparently female-dominated disorder — notice “bagman” isn’t a common term?

No surprise I volunteered to stuff 26 Halloween goodie bags for my son’s second grade class this year, but even when my youngest is grown I know there will be many occasions to bag it. I’ll be the blue-haired lady toting my bingo bag and knitting bag along with me everywhere I go. And you can bet I’ll have along a spare set of dentures and fresh attends in each.

I take comfort in the idea that when I arrive at my eternal reward St. Peter will tell me I can check all my baggage at the gate. No war or hangnails in heaven.

I have to run along. It’s time for my Bag Lady Anonymous Meeting (B.A.M.) and I need to get my bag together. I wonder if wearing a fanny pack will be considered “tying one on?”

Jacki Michael is a writer and bag lady who lives in Soldotna.

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