>My sister Andrea and I took off after work one night to visit the outlet mall and we went into the Coach store. I saw this purse, hanging all by itself as if it were under a spotlight and I thought, “That purse is so me.” I picked up the purse from its perch, peaked inside, caught a glimpse of the price tag and had an immediate change of heart. Well, I would like to think it was immediate but Andrea could tell you that I kept going back and looking again, just in case I misread the price. I didn’t.
I have never been a purse person, or a make up person, or a clothes person. I guess we all have our priorities, and I have never made fashion one of mine. Why shouldn’t I have an expensive designer purse and wear make up to work and get my hair colored and my nails done? I hadn’t even given it much thought up until that damn purse made me question who I was.
A lot of the women I work with are very put together, stylish people with shoes for every outfit and a cupboard full of product, maybe that is who I should be too. I have to admit that I have always admired the women who look like they put a lot of time, money and pride into their appearance. I wish I could look like I felt that good about myself. I tend to view myself as more of the frumpy type whose muffin top pretty much rules out the possibility of looking good in anything I wear, so might as well go with the old standby jeans and knit top from Target. Of course I look like an unpopular college student with gray hair who happens to work in a professional office, but there are worse things.
Weighing out the cost of a bimonthly hair cut and color, biweekly manicures; approximately 10 new pairs of shoes, a solid seven or so new trendy outfits, a face full of make up and that god forsaken Coach purse, in black and one in brown of course…and this clearly wasn’t the answer for me.
That purse was seriously starting to antagonize me. How could one overpriced hunk of leather make me feel so inadequate? I was now examining everything about my appearance in relation to that purse and I just didn’t measure up. So I am now clear on the fact that I can not afford to make myself into something that I am not. Well, that makes things a lot easier, that seemed like it would be a lot of work anyway. So if I am not a Coach carrying fashionista, what am I?
If ever there was an event, aside from spotting a coach purse to lust after, that has made me question every bit of who I am, it is the birth of Miss Leila. I now question how I treat my body, how I keep my home, how I contribute to mankind and how I treat the very earth I live in. Now that is one tiny little thing that could made me question everything about myself that the purse didn’t even touch on, you know the non superficial stuff.
Every morning when I wake up I am filled with a mix of two general ideas, 1. I do not want to go to work today, I want to hang out with my baby and frolic and spend money. 2. Please Lord, keep my family safe today I don’t want to wake up from the greatest dream I could have ever imagined.
When I was pregnant with Leila I remember going to work everyday and loving having her there, hanging out in my belly with me all day long. Her kicking and moving was a constant reminder of this wonderful blessing I had in my life. Life was good, Leila and I were inseparable, she never gave me any little baby attitude and childcare was free. What escapes me to this day, nearly 17 months after she was born, was how I managed to never think beyond the moment of her birth and how my life was about to change. There is only one way to put it; motherhood derailed me. I don’t even think I have started to recover yet, but maybe this is something you don’t recover from. My sense of what is important has completely flip flopped. I don’t care about my job, I don’t care about my hair, not that I ever did, all I care about is doing what is best for my child. When things get hard to handle, I can always look up at the picture on my wall of Leila with her crinkly nose smile and her daddy holding her up for the camera and remind myself that I am the luckiest.
In some ways I think I have gotten easier on myself. I still hate that I am overweight, but I now have an appreciation of what my overstuffed body is capable of doing. I single handedly sustained another human being through 9 months of pregnancy and her first year of life (well, unless you could the puree she smeared all over herself from 6-12 months). I still compare myself to other women, but I now I always win, because whatever they may have, they don’t have Cory and they don’t have Leila.
In other ways I am much harder on myself. I feel now even more that I want my life to have meaning, beyond motherhood; I want my child to be proud of her mother. I want to be proud of myself.
I like to think of the Coach incident as a sort of relapse. For a minute there, I forgot who I was in the face of a super cute, overpriced bag whose cost could have supplied diapers to my daughter for about 8 months (I said I questioned how I treat the Earth, I didn’t say I always chose the right answer). I did get a new purse; I like to think that I have two purses. I have a small Hobo style handbag. It is black with a trendy printed lining and strap. It isn’t exactly Coach, but it still holds all of my things and I feel good about carrying it. The other is a bigger bag. It is a tote style with lots of pockets. One to house my wallet and cell phone, and lots more to hold diapers, wipes, sippy cups and other baby paraphernalia. I feel especially good about carrying that one. I carry it with me whenever I can manage to have my baby along. Of course things are different now that she can’t come to work with me and has learned to throw a very impressive tantrum, but I am still constantly reminded of my blessing as I watch her grow and learn everyday. One of these days I will make her a little purse to match the purse and diaper bag that I made for myself.