I opened the forgotten but so familir bag I found hidden on the top shelf of the mudroom closet. I knew what I would find inside.
Half-filled notebooks. Broken pencils and unwrapped crayons. Two Book of Mormon picture books. A package of ancient fruit snacks, now hard and inedible. A pink princess pull-up. No-longer-wet baby wipes in a Ziploc bag. A sacrament meeting program wadded up and scribbled on, dated January 20, 2013.
January 20, 2013 was the last Sunday I took a diaper bag to Church with me.
January 20, 2013 was Evie's third Sunday in Primary--her third Sunday as a Sunbeam. (For a brief story on Primary and Sunbeams, click here.) I had told her that now she was a Sunbeam, she was a big girl and I didn't need to bring the diaper bag to Church any more. And I didn't. Just like that. I brought it home, returned it to its shelf in the closet, and never took it out again.
Funny how just the sight of this bag flooded me with memories and a few unexpected happy tears. Memories of the mom I used to be. A mom of tiny kids who ate snacks and drank from sippy cups in Church. A mom of tiny kids who still wore pull-ups and needed help wiping their bums.
It wasn't just a diaper bag to me. This bag needed to have lots of compartments and pockets and be washable and not be covered in pastel baby bunnies or be gender-specific. (Those requirements may seem weird today, but it was extremely difficult to find one that was neutral and not hideous way back then.) I remember looking through catalogs (in the prehistoric days before online shopping) and deciding to order a Lands' End diaper bag** because it had everything I wanted and was guaranteed to never wear out.
It lasted through thirteen years of being hauled to and from church, the park, the movies, the store, Grandma's house, and it even once traveled across the ocean to Japan when Lily was tiny.
It contained juice box spills and Goldfish schools. It kept kid treasures (contraband gum or Matchbox cars) safe when I confiscated them until we got home on Sunday afternoon.
It never wore out, even though it was abused and stuffed beyond its recommended weight requirements. It bears a few stains from melted crayons and uncapped pens and a Skittle left undiscovered for who knows how long. It was thrown into the wash occasionally, and it always came out looking almost new again.
Hours and hours this bag and I fought together in the trenches. It became such a part of my Sunday attire that when Brad left it in the chapel one week, a friend of mine recognized it immediately and brought it to me, because it was the only diaper bag I owned. The only one I ever needed.
How could I do that to my unfailing partner through more than a decade of dedicated mothering?
I threw it in the wash. Good as new. Just like always.
I texted Heidi to see if she needed another diaper bag--one tried and Mother-tested to withstand anything a kid could throw at it. (Or throw up in it--yes, that did happen once. Yes, it was in Church.) She politely declined, but she kindly added, "I'll take it if you want someone you love to have it." No, I didn't need to clutter up her life with my memories.
What was I going to do with "the diaper bag"?
It took me a few days, but I came up with the perfect solution . . .
**I wanted to see if this diaper bag is still available. I found this bag, which I think is the most recent model, but it doesn't look like it's currently available. Reviews from 12/14 show it was sold not too long ago.