The realization came slowly . . . much like the filling of my oversized handbag. 

I remember the “before” times: the tiny, trendy purses large enough for a pack of Tic Tacs and a folded $20 bill. Some had dainty straps — perfect for slipping over a wrist that wasn’t also pushing an applesauce-dotted stroller. Others featured designer logos or delicate fabrics. 

Sure, those bags are adorable, but tell me: are they fruit punch-resistant? 

Yes, friends, I’m now all about the practical Mom Bag. 

Since welcoming my first child in 2015, I’ve taken to lugging around an inexpensive satchel that could double as a cannonball. Peeking into my current purse — something my husband is fearful to ever do, by the way — would reveal stray seashells, baby wipes, foam and liquid hand sanitizer, coffeeshop cards with two of 10 punches, a million hair ties, several types of fruit snacks and granola bars, masks for every season and face in my household, a rainbow Slinky, thick and fine-point Sharpies, keys to unknown houses and long-surrendered mailboxes, and some Tylenol. 

And that’s the side pocket. 

I keep telling myself that I need to travel lighter — but the universe has an infuriating way of making me regret a deep clean immediately. I swear, I’ve never needed anything more than the day after I finally remove random safety pins, fashion tape, or a stain remover pen. I’m basically begging for a wardrobe malfunction… and it’s always right on cue. 

My mother’s unofficial motto is, “Hope for the best, pack for the worst,” so my anxiety is 100% all-natural. If you’ve ever joined us at a bridal or baby shower, you’ve likely been taken down during, “What’s In Your Handbag?” — the classic party game in which you earn points for each unusual item you happen to have on your person. When mom walks in, trust me: just go back to the Buffalo chicken dip. 

Hope for the best, pack for the worst

Now in my thirties with two kids in tow, I understand the whys of moms’ bulging bags so much better. Suddenly, I’m the one responsible for bandages and Benadryl, dental floss, and Desitin. But the truth is, when my own mother is around, I still depend on her packs of tissues, printed driving directions, and peanut M&Ms when someone (OK, usually me) feels their blood sugar dip too low. 

The Mom Bag? It’s really love in action. 

And so, the tradition continues. Whether the day’s challenges include hungry children, broken sandal straps, or dry lips, I’m sure I’ve got something for that. If you need a sheet of puppy stickers, even, you know where to find me. 

Just, you know, give me a few minutes to find it.