New motherhood is scary. It is a time of uncertainty and needing to let go of control. A time of questioning and losing trust in yourself. It may sound silly, but one of the things I leaned on the most for confidence in these early stages was my diaper bag.
It was a gift to myself. Leather. A splurge. After a challenging pregnancy, birth, and post-partum period, this was my reward. An investment in myself, even. Well, sort of — it was still a diaper bag. But I digress.
I would pack up my diaper bag with all the essentials — diapers and wipes, of course, but also a roll of plastic bags, a Tide pen, extra onesies, socks, hats, and pants. There were burp cloths, baby toys, tubes of sunscreen, and board books. There was even an extra T-shirt, change of underwear, and toothbrush for me. Everything ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice to help tackle whatever catastrophe might come my way.
This well-stocked diaper bag represented everything I was pre-parenthood. Always prepared. A Girl Scout. Ready to mitigate any risk and solve any problem I’m faced with. This diaper bag made me a feel like a hero. This diaper bag made me feel like a mom.
Being prepared helped give me the confidence I was severely lacking in the first few months of motherhood, and my packed-to-the-brim diaper bag represented that. I knew I didn’t have all the answers, but I sure as hell could be prepared for anything with a well-packed diaper bag.
For three and a half years, my diaper bag has followed me and my son everywhere. The contents have changed as he has grown. Spare baby clothes have rotated out for bigger sizes, and now diapers are being replaced with extra underwear and training pants. Carrying around everything I could possibly need (and more) provided me comfort during my first few years as a parent, but things change. As my son grows and changes, I grow and change as a parent, too. I’ve grown a little more confident — and a lot more relaxed — when it comes to being prepared.
Sometimes I laugh about all the things in my diaper bag that never got used. All the things that filled gift baskets at my baby shower and stayed in their sample-sized wrappers. I could kick myself for carrying around all that weight for so long, but I don’t. Much of it was used as intended; every item in that diaper bag served its purpose. It helped me feel prepared, confident, and capable in those early parenting years.
I don’t carry the diaper bag all the time anymore, and when I do, it’s much lighter. Sometimes it’s got what I need, and sometimes I need to improvise, or pop into a convenience store, or ask for help from another mom. I’ve learned that being able to improvise is part of being a mom, too. As time has gone by, I’ve realized I don’t need to carry all this stuff around to feel like I can give my son what he needs. What he needs is me.