A mother’s bag is a wondrous thing. It harbours a whole host of essential items – some of which might not seem that essential to the untrained eye, but can be pulled out to save the day at a minute’s notice. For example: a mini-Easter egg found at the bottom of my bag in mid-September placated a small child about to have a godzilla-sized tantrum in a public place; a wad of used tissues was used to transport a fragile bird’s egg found by my big boy at the park; and a champagne cork stopped a reservoir water tank from leaking on The Love Bus. When all is said and done, the motherbag is the McGyver of the Bag World.
So you can imagine that a mother, say, on a visit to a special exhibit at the state museum with four children, for example, might feel a little cranky when asked to check in her tote bag at the cloakroom because it was deemed to be a “large, bulky item”. In fact, you could say such a mother would be distinctly prickly with the museum attendant.
“You’ll thank us when you get in there and see how crowded it is,” the museum attendant told such a mother (which was of course me).
“So crowded that my unconcealed wallet will be wrenched from my hand?” I asked, pointedly.
You see, the denial of the motherbag and a distinct lack of pockets on my attire meant I had to become a Type A “Holder” – you know, one of those people who walk around doing everything holding their wallet, keys and mobile phone in their hands. Shit, they probably even got married, fell pregnant and gave birth holding all that crap. But listen, I have nothing against Holders per se. It’s just that when I’m personally holding stuff in my hand, I grow all uneasy that I might be faced with one of those “catch my child falling or keep hold of my purse” scenarios and some days it’s hard to say which way I’d roll, depending on how much juice was left on my credit card.
Of course, because I was so busy being cranky when I checked in my bag at the cloakroom, I didn’t properly assess what the kids were carrying or make any projections about what I might end up carrying in their place. And so I found myself shepherding four children under eight around a crowded exhibition space, carrying a total of two jumpers, a hard-covered book, a light saber, a stuffed pink poodle, a wad of tickets and programmes handed to me on entry and – of course – my purse, mobile and carkeys. All of which would have easily stored away in my tardis-like motherbag, leaving my hands and arms free to, you know, prevent the young children in my care from tearing the exhibition to shit. For example.
As I struggled my way around the exhibit, I found myself bitterly keeping count of people bearing leather handbags the same size or bigger than my humble canvas tote. The difference? The bearers appeared to be either without children or with one or two of a more civilised age, able perhaps to blow their own noses and/or manage their own toilet breaks from start to finish.
So what exactly did the museum have against mothers of small children and their motherbags? Were they worried that I’d unleash a torrent of sultanas and diluted juice over their preciousssss exhibitions? If so, damn right they should have been worried. They should have been very worried indeed. But not because I’d be brazenly flouting the NO FOOD OR DRINK rule in the gallery, but because my famous vomiting children might just spontaneously download their breakfast onto all the equipment at the audio tour booth at any given moment. Fact.
I mean, why let children in at all if you won’t let the motherbags of the world in?
For the record: a mother without her motherbag is like a soldier without a gun. Or a skydiver without a parachute. Or a father without whatever thing fathers can’t do without, which is probably their trousers if you think about it as it might get them arrested. Again.