What I Learned about Motherhood from a Little Blue Tote Bag

November 1, 2017
Motherhood Lesson

One recent busy morning, I chased my toddler around the house as I tried to get him ready for nursery school. Though he is only in school two mornings a week, he enjoys the time with friends and teachers, and I enjoy the only solo time I have to be productive. I run errands and get whatever work done that I can. So, the short time he is there is worth the chaos that typically precedes it.

On this particular morning, I had to be downtown shortly after dropping him at school.  As he flew around the house pretending to be The Incredible Hulk, I somehow managed to strap on his shoes and fasten his jacket, and eventually got us and our gear to the car.

We were on time, he was happy, and I felt confident that we were getting through our day on the right track.

It wasn’t until we got to school that I realized I had forgotten his little blue tote bag.

In his school, the kids don’t use backpacks; they use school issued tote bags.

And this bag has been the bane of my existence since we received it.

For example, on the first day of school, I realized I was the only parent who hadn’t decked out their kid’s bag with patches or special embroidery. Instead, I had written my son’s name at the top in black permanent marker and called it a day.

Don’t get me wrong–I love me some personalized embroidery. I’m pretty sure Land’s End and Pottery Barn Kids have special files with my son’s name on it.

But, before that first day of nursery school, it never even occurred to me that I should bedazzle that generic blue tote.

I definitely missed the memo, and I jokingly wondered if I should hand in my mom card.

There has also been more than one occasion when I walked out of the house before school without the bag–but I always remembered it in time to run back inside and get it.

I’m not sure why this bag is frequently such an afterthought, but it is.

Still, the morning that I actually forgot it, I cringed, wondering how I could forget to bring the one thing I was supposed to remember.

I sighed, but decided not to get too hung up on it–life goes on after all, and it’s not like there was AP Chemistry homework in the bag. These were two-year-olds.

When I mentioned to my son that I forgot his blue tote, he shrugged and didn’t seem too bothered. But when we got to his classroom and he saw all the other parents and kids with their bags, he asked where his was.

I again explained that I forgot his tote bag and that it was at home.

We went through this same question series a few times, his tiny voice asking where his blue tote was and my slightly guilty voice explaining that he wouldn’t have it that day.

After drop-off, I left feeling a little defeated. I never thought I would be the mom who forgot to bring the school bag, or the only mom who labeled her kid’s bag with marker instead of fabric.

As someone who has always been particularly on top of things, it was a little bewildering to feel like I dropped the ball on such a basic task.

And I was, of course, tempted to compare myself to the other moms and dads who remembered to bring their child’s perfectly styled bag.

But instead of going down that rabbit hole, I decided to shake it off.

Yes, I forgot to do something–more than once–but that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

All moms forget things–and that’s OK.

The only thing it means is that the little blue tote bag isn’t my top priority.

What is my top priority? My son, of course, and making sure he is healthy, happy, curious, nurtured, and loved.

My other top priorities? Making sure that my family is operating as a healthy unit, and I as a healthy and happy person/mom/wife/friend/sister/daughter/professional.

Of course, I am not saying that the parents who took the time to beautifully decorate their child’s tote bag, and who always remember to bring the bag to school somehow have their priorities wrong.

am saying that every parent is different, and every family is different. 

We all have a little blue tote bag in our life–theirs just happens to be something different.

If, like me, your little blue tote bag actually is a little blue tote bag, you just have to remember not to beat yourself up over it.

As moms, we all have various obligations. We are the keepers of worlds, big and small.

So it’s OK if some of the bigger things–like making sure your child is fed, dressed, and mentally prepared for the day–eclipse some of the smaller things–like remembering to bring the plain, totally unbedazzled blue tote bag to school.






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