Over the years, what I have defined as a good purse has changed as my life has changed. When I was young and single, a good purse went well with at least two pairs of my shoes. It had to hold the necessities like lipstick, perfume, mascara, and mouthwash. Most importantly, it had to be cute.
Closer to my thirties, and more focused on my “career”, I looked for a purse that said I meant business, literally. I was trying hard to be taken seriously by the men I worked with and, more importantly, by the women. Cute wasn’t going to cut it. Serious is what I was after. My purse held my Franklin Day Planner (which I actually never used but it looked good to have one), at least 4 pens that worked, cab fare, and business cards. (It still needed to work with at least two pairs of shoes.)
When I became a mom, my requirements for a purse completely changed. A good purse was, well, a diaper bag. Babies require too much equipment for me to even think about carrying a purse, too. As long as there was space for my phone, my wallet, and a change of underwear (you were a new mom, you know what I mean), I was good to go. Okay, they may not have been fashion forward but they were cute. The best thing about this new purse choice was that you got them for free.
Fortunately, my boys grew and I was able to move on to other purse choices. Sure, they were bulkier than I liked but I needed lots of spaces to hold things like snacks, wipes, changes of underwear (this time not for me), tissues and toys. Useful as my new purses were though, I longed for the days when I would be able again to carry something cute and fashionable. At least, I did, until the day I learned what a really good purse really could do.
I had taken Nic to an outing with his social skills group to 5Wits 20,000 Leagues adventure. I knew it was kind of risky from the start, but I wanted Nic to get more experience in social settings and he wanted to make friends with these boys. As soon as we arrived, I could feel Nic’s anxiety rise. It runs from him to me like an electrical current. The voltage was high. I decided to stay in case Nic wanted to leave, so Aaron and I bought our tickets and joined the group. Nic paced as we moved into the first room of the “adventure”. The rest of the group, and the unfortunate two young ladies who bought tickets for the same show, listened to the guide. Some of the other boys started to fidget, spin and dart about. After much prodding and redirection by the guide, the group solved the puzzle and moved to the next room. A dark room (Nic was afraid of the dark), a room that seemed to be moving (Nic was afraid of elevators because they were “rooms that move), a room that seemed to have no exit (he also hated elevators because he couldn’t get out). Even in the dark, I could see his face go pale.
I looked around quickly. There wasn’t a trash barrel or bucket of any kind anywhere. My mind raced. I walked up to the only other mother who stayed. “Could you please do me two favors? First, watch my son, Aaron,” I said pointing to curly-haired first grader. “Second, hold these.” I handed her some tissues (keeping one with me), lip balm, wipes, snacks and my phone.”
She looked at me completely puzzled. ”I’ll be right back,” I explained. “My son is going to blow!”
I took Nic’s arm and walked him to a quiet corner. I pulled open the front pocket of my purse and let him loose his lunch, breakfast and afternoon snack. When he was done, I wiped his mouth. I put the tissue in the purse pocket and zipped it closed. I let his social skills group leader know we needed to step out and quietly asked the guide how to get out of the room.
In the ladies room, I had Nic wash his hands and face. Meanwhile, I emptied the other compartments of my purse; tossing the items where the ick had seeped through and wiping down the ones I had to keep like my keys and my wallet. I tried to clean out the rest of the purse the best that I could and then dumped it in the trash. The other mom had come out with Aaron and my things.
“A total loss?’ she asked.
I nodded my head.
“I can’t believe you let him throw-up in your purse. That was a good purse. I hope he knows how much you love him.”
I thanked her. Gathered up my belongings and kids and headed home.
She was right. It was a good purse. It was the best purse I have ever had. That purse meant that everyone’s 5Wits adventure wasn’t ruined by the splatter of puke on their shoes. That purse saved someone who gets paid too little from having to clean a disgusting mess. Most importantly, that purse saved my son from being embarrassed in front of the boys he so desperately wanted to be his friends and from being ashamed and angry with himself for not being able to control his anxiety in a public place.
Ever since, I will only buy a purse that has multiple compartments. Those compartments remind me that on some days, I can be a really good move. Besides, I never know when I might need them.