“Mom, what’s this?” I hear as my son enters my room. I look down and he is carrying a simple black bag. I recognize the bag immediately. It is a medium sized bag with a long strap. It is about the same shape as a bicycle messenger would carry. I gently take the bag from my son. As I touch it I remember the last time I used it to carry items that were so important to us then. “There is an unused diaper in it, and a bunch of papers. What the heck was it doing in my closet?” My almost eleven old continues.
“This was your diaper bag that we used when you went to the doctor.” I responded while keeping my eyes on the bag.
We moved into this home two years ago and the past few days my children and I have been cleaning out our bedrooms closets. It is something we try to do every summer. I do not remember putting the bag into my son’s closet two years ago and I do not know how we missed it last year.
I start going through the bag and begin to look through what was left behind in it. Suddenly, I am visiting another version of myself. The ‘new mother-self’. The terrified woman that looked like she was holding it together. She felt so proud but mostly intimidated by the title of “mother.”
Before all my baby’s medical information was put on a digital portal, we needed to bring a small light blue booklet that our doctor would fill out at each appointment. It held the record of his growth as well as his vaccinations. I had forgotten it once when we went in for one of our son’s check ups and I felt like a failure. My husband came up with idea of the doctor diaper bag. This way we would always have what we needed. I remember putting a small notebook in it where I would write questions I had for the medical staff. As a first time parent of an infant that started his life in the NICU, I was anxious and aimed to be on top of everything. As our son grew, I would also keep the receipts of each visit as documentation. Those receipts helped give me more confidence that I was doing right by the little human that was in my care.
With each zipper I unzipped and paper I touched, it reminded me of that new mother I used to be. How challenging I felt it was, and the feeling I had to do everything perfectly-the feeling that my son’s destiny depended on how flawless I was as a mother. I still try my best as a parent, but I have grown to realize that my children are their own person. I am here to guide them, and I am going to make mistakes. Plus, mistakes have been a wonderful way for me to grow as a parent. My mistakes also help remind me that my kids need to make mistakes to also learn. As my eyes continue to look through the papers, I wish I could tell my new mom-self this, but I know she would not listen. I also know it is better that I learned what I have learned with time. I continue to need to learn.
I reached in deeper into the bag and I was so surprised how familiar the feel of the diaper was in my hand. It had been in there since the bag’s last outing nine years ago, my son’s two year check up. The following year there was no need for diapers and everything went digital, therefore the bag was no longer needed. I finally look at my son. It is getting harder to see the baby in his face. His dark eyes looked lovingly at me, as his long mahogany colored bangs fall over his forehead. He is no longer that bald baby that did not need his first haircut until he was speaking in full sentences. My son had a knowing smile as if he came on that journey with me. Without explanation I throw my arms around him and pull him in tight for a hug. He giggles and hugs me as if he is glad I am back here in the present where I belong.