jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

I am a bag lady.


I am a bag lady.

When I (finally) got pregnant with Jasper, a wise woman who was a mentor, colleague and friend gave me a bag as a baby gift. It was a small, sturdy canvas tote bag, block-printed by hand with a strong handle and a fob for keys. It was not a diaper bag by any stretch of the imagination. Although it was packed with an adorable book and stuffed elephant, I thought it an odd baby present. Especially for my first baby. It was not baby-like at all.

When she gave it to me she said something along the lines of, “This will be one of many bags for you, I know. Your life will be filled with bags.” She said it more Yoda-like that that, but nonetheless, I had no idea what she meant.

And now, four kids and so many diaper and canvas and recycled and shopping bags later, it is still the one I call “Mommy’s purse.” It holds what’s left of my soul after the children take the rest of it: two smelly markers, many crumbs, sewing supplies, red nail polish, Burt’s Bees lip gloss, broken crayons, my wallet, my phone, lots of sticky change, charger, sometimes my ipad, supposedly the epi-pen/band-aids/neosporin/Tylenol concoction I keep in a huge ziploc bag, but that last part is spotty. And yes, I said this represents my soul on most days.

And then this Saturday there were the rest of the bags. Come journey with me, and see if I can make you feel at home.

We went to (deep breath) soccer from 9-10 for the three youngest at the Y, birthday party at the bird sanctuary for the twins from 10-12, soccer game for oldest from 11-12 at random town fields, sustainability fair at eldest’s school from 10-2 in Manchester and home again for quick dinner before football game under the lights at husband’s school in South Hamilton. (Now exhale and repeat five times. Mama-yogi breathing! Don’t you feel refreshed and RELAXED?!)


Last day of soccer, Fall 2013

And this is what accompanied us on our journey:

Large canvas bag: sand in the bottom from being our beach bag, outdoor toys for waiting during brother’s game, four small soccer balls, dry erase boards, pens, water, sunscreen, big blanket for grass-sitting. This bag smells like the beach.

Thermal bag: healthy snack and water, times four, plus an ice pack. Don’t smell this bag. For any reason. Under any circumstances. Seriously.

Recyclable shopping bag (actually one of the wine bags they give you at Crosby’s for buying 6 bottles of wine at a time? We have LOADS of them, as you can imagine. I cut out the wine bottle separators and send them in with my kids to school even though they say “Enjoy Fine Wine”. Funny or sad? You decide.): four pairs cleats, four sets shin guards, four pair soccer socks.

Trader Joe’s bag: change of clothes plus boots for hiking at the birthday party at the bird sanctuary.

Market Basket bag: another change of clothes for when they fall in the water during the birthday party plus shoes for after.

Another wine bag: change of clothing and shoes for non-birthday party kids, plus random lunchables since they weren’t invited to said birthday party.


Sustainability fair, Fall 2013

Sound familiar? It’s like the book “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”. You start out getting a moose a muffin and next thing you know your living room is covered in paint and you’re having a pillow fight with seven forest friends including a pig and a snake. And this doesn’t even take into account the trunk of the minivan. The portable toilet (yes, we use it daily), the bottled waters, the extra jackets, broken umbrellas, picnic blanket, sand toys…

Certified bag lady, am I right?

But I always try to remember that before I know it, I will be back to one bag*. I will only carry things for myself again someday. And when I do, I think I will use only that lovely green bag with the handmade blockprints and the keyfob.

But until then, I am the bag lady.

(*Who am I kidding? I’ll still be carrying five bags.)

3 comments on “I am a bag lady.

  1. heatherdaviswill
    November 11, 2013

    Bruce and I just about peed our pants reading this. You. Are. Awesome.

    • jgroeber
      November 11, 2013

      YOU just made my night. (And Bruce, too.)

  2. Kelly
    November 11, 2013

    The bags!! Hanging on the door knob of my side door is a BAG OF BAGS. I need to put them back in my car in case I find myself with shit to schlep and no bag. I hear you… the bags. They might be taking over my life. Or they might BE my life. You decide.

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This entry was posted on November 11, 2013 by in Surviving Motherhood, The Children and tagged , , , .

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