Because important things go in a case. You got a skull for your brain, a plastic sleeve for your comb, and a wallet for your money.

When I was in junior high, I swore to my mom that I would never, ever carry a purse. I’d continue to stuff that ratty, Velcro surf-brand wallet into the back pocket of my (likely LEI) jeans until the day I died. Purses are for old ladies! And through most of high school, I managed just fine without one — Cover Girl compact in one back pocket, wallet in the other, lip balm in the front pocket, keys in the other. If I couldn’t stuff it into a pocket on my person, it stayed at home.

But then I hit college, and I got a pager, and I had to carry lots of books back and forth to class, and all of that gear went into the front pocket of my backpack. (Not the pager, though. I proudly wore that eyesore on the front of my jeans like a badge. You know, in case MY MOM had to get a hold of me.) And then I started caring what I actually looked like. Gone were the days of old-man thrift store pants that never really fit me anyway. College Me shopped at Express (and racked up a wicked store credit card bill in the process, thus starting a since-then battle with debt), and ordered cheap (but cute!) clothes from Delia’s. Somewhere along the line, I became a girly-girl, and during that transformation, I suddenly needed a purse to carry my crap.

Still, I was never really a purse girl. I never cared what brand purse I used, but I often opted for those of the smaller variety, with just enough room for a few personal items. I remember watching my mom often struggling to find her keys (wallet, cell phone) in her purse wasteland, and I swore to Roth I’d never carry a purse bigger than my head.

Except, then I had a baby. And now I was supposed to carry a purse AND a diaper bag? Gah. I tried just using a Skip*Hop bag as a diaper bag and a purse, but the compartments were never quite big enough for my wallet and cell phone, and I hated fishing around for my lip balm and keys. Recently, I admired a co-worker’s adorable, much-larger-than-my-current-purse, canvas tote, and soon I got myself the same one (from Target for $12!). I cautiously introduced it to Roth for the first time, quickly demonstrating to him that it could hold all of my AND Rowan’s crap, never mind its freakish size. I mean, look! I can put a sippy cup in the side pocket and my water bottle in the other!

For weeks now, Roth has suspiciously eyed that bag every time it’s on my shoulder, reminding me time and time again of my small purse promise as I, too, struggle to find my keys (wallet, cell phone). To him, the size of my purse is directly proportional to the size of my underwear which is directly proportional to the size of my vehicle, and before he knows what has happened, I’ll be rocking full-on granny panties while driving Rowan to soccer practice in a minivan.

But the issue now is my wallet, which is dangerously close to reaching Costanza proportions. The other day, Roth needed to grab a few dollars from my wallet, and he was shocked to see just how obese it has become. He joked that if it were a sandwich, he wouldn’t be able to bite it, it’s so stacked. I mean, I can barely keep it closed, and it’s already on the fat snap.

So, today I got a sandwich for lunch, and lo, my wallet IS bigger than the Bacon Turkey Bravo from Panera.


All of this to say, I’m now eating my words (almost literally!) by carrying a big purse, AND now it looks like I need an even bigger wallet, too. Sigh. I’m the old lady now, aren’t I?

I’m curious — mom or not, how do you carry all your stuff?

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19 Comments

  1. I’m a huge fan of purses. I think I like them more than shoes. I am now always hunting down cool handmade ones on etsy. Etsy will be the death of my checking account!

    I do tend to get big purses and I find it hard to find stuff in it despite all the handy pockets and such.

  2. Well, as you might already guess, with or without toddler in tow I use one of my company’s bags: http://shopjujube.com/

    I ADORE the BeRich wallet as it has tons of card slots. I have a section just for gift cards & loyalty cards, and I put the most-used cards in the slots above my license. Love, love, love it! It’s bigger than your current wallet, though, so I don’t know how you’d like it.

  3. I was a wallet-only girl in high school and a wallet-in-backpack girl in college. After college I went through a few small purses until I got one of those Ecuadorian wool bags in 2004. I still use that bag, actually. I don’t have a big checkbook wallet, just my … uh … Velcro wallet from high school. Swear to God.

    A friend of mine gave me this bag (except in green instead of pink) and I use it for my son’s diaper bag. It has smaller pockets around the inside on all four sides that I use for bottles of milk, diapers, a toy or two, travel wipes, etc. I put his swaddle blanket, burpies, spare outfit and travel changing pad in the big middle section. And there’s a little zipper pocket in the lining that I can use for my chapstick and a granola bar. I either put my wallet in the zipper pocket or stuff my whole purse in the main compartment, and then I put my keys in one of the outside water bottle pockets. When I started using it, I figured I’d just use it until I decided what my diaper bag needs and wants were and then I’d shop for a bag, but I’m used to it now and probably won’t buy another one unless something happens to it.

  4. OK… so I’m not really a “purse person” either. But at Christmas I splurged and got myself a Gigi Hill bag. It’s cute on the outside and functional on the inside. The straps are long enough that I can open it up without having to find somewhere to set it, but not so long that it swings around. If I *do* have to set it down, it has little metal feet on the bottom.

    There’s a small pocket on the outside where I keep my cell phone. There’s enough space in the main compartment for everything I need on a daily basis like my wallet & checkbook, sunglasses, and three mandatory Chico bags… and then some. Plus the inside is lined with: clear compartments where I stash my iPod, wad o coupons, chapstick, and so on; pen loops; a loop where I can clip my keychain (no more fishing around!); and a zipper pouch for all those things no one really needs to see.

    I can’t mention enough that I *never* have to fish for anything. It’s SUPER organized because of all the little pockets and loops and so on.

    If I only really need my wallet? The bag’s roomy enough to hold my camera (a Nikon D40) plus a small water bottle for a day at the park or roaming around… or a couple of drinks and snacks to sneak into the movies (shhh… don’t tell!). You could definitely fit a couple diapers, bottle or sippy cup, and some toddler snacks (plus maybe even a small blanket) in there.

    BUT it isn’t so huge that I feel like I’m lugging, well, LUGGAGE.

    Unfortunately their website is notsogood (I linked to my particular bag in the space above). The photos just don’t do it justice. It’s one of those deals where you have to buy it from a “consultant”. And like I said it was a splurge… never thought I’d spend quite that much on a PURSE. (It’s just a bag for my crap, right?) But I’ve used a lot of bags, and I think I’ll be happy with this one for a long time.

    And no, I didn’t get it in “cowhide”. But if you do, I won’t hold it against you. :-)

  5. I am a huge purse nerd. (Well, a huge nerd who likes purses, not a lover of huge purses. Even though most of mine are large by default. Blergh.) I’m a mom, too, and so I basically wind up carrying the kitchen sink when I go out with both kids. I use a Kit and Lili canvas tote as a diaper bag and then carry a smaller clutch-type bag inside that with my wallet, phone, keys, etc. That way I can just grab that when I have the opportunity to travel light.

  6. I solve this problem by having a kind of large wallet. It’s big enough to put my phone in, some lip gloss and my keys if I need to. If I need more stuff I just throw it in a larger bag. I never lose the monster purse/wallet in my bag and I don’t feel like a granny taking my huge work bags everywhere.

    Just wish I could find another wallet like the one I have because eventually it’s gonna die :(

    I still lose my keys all the time though DOH!

  7. Well first, I’m a bag whore. I have bags in every size. I usually end up using something huge. And as for your theory – I rock the minivan and the granny panties. (in my defense, I have 4 boys – we don’t all fit into a car. However, the granny panties are all on me.)

  8. Before kid – purses. I’m able to use a purse a bit more now that I don’t always need the giant diaper bag, but when I had the diaper bag my stuff was in a baggalini which easily fit into the diaper bag.

  9. I like purses but can’t afford the ones I love. So I buy a NICE one every few years and wear the crap out of it. I’m a medium sized bag person and I rotate often. Right now I’m using a Target canvas style bag from a few years ago. I’ve come to expect the fishing around for keys and cell phone. Bonus with this bag, if I’m going out with Claire for a while I can throw in a sippy cup, a bag of wipes and a Pull Up and nobody knows. Also! On a rare hookie day date to the movies I know for a fact that I can hide a bottle of water and 2 sandwiches from Provence in the bag! hee! :)

  10. I was going to tell you all about my purse fetish (Do you need one? Because Jen, I have TWELVE in my closet right now, I’m not even kidding you, and I’d be happy to bring them for you to look through next weekend. I at one time loved them all; I just…have a problem), but then I was distracted by the fact that you got a pager. And you wore it on the front of your jeans. Please tell me you have pictures of this. PLEASE.

    And the fact that you took a picture of your wallet next to a Panera sandwich? Reason #456 why I love you.

  11. Gabby

    Ironically, I just decided to spend money on a really big bag. (I don’t really like the word “purse” so we’re gonna call it a “bag.”) The thing is, although I don’t have a child, I must be mobile at all times (riding the bus and carrying my laptop as well as all the food, drink, entertainment, and layers of clothing I need for the day gets a little heavy.) So I had been using the same bag for years, and I decided it was time to invest money in a new one. And I did it.

    I think the key is to embrace the big bag, a la fashionable movie star. You know, big leather designer bags that you wear with a baggy sweater that cost at $500, a big floppy hat, and shades that cost at least $1000, because you’re Jennifer Aniston or whoever and that’s just how you roll. Anyway, that’s what I tell myself when I lug the thing on the bus and it takes up two seats.

  12. Serror

    I love purses, but I don’t have the same size association as you do. Many of the younger (and much hipper than I) set carry ginormous purses. It seems the giant tote is a trendy purse these days. I don’t follow in their footsteps, but I like a purse I can stuff some extra stuff in from time to time. My friend who has three kids though, has a tiny tiny little puse, and a little backpack that serves as diaper bag. The purse easily fits in the back pack and then she always has her hands free…

  13. I’m a purse girl. I had a purse in the third grade that I carried even though this TOTALLY MEAN GIRL made fun of me. I’m looking at you, Amanda U.

  14. I got a nice Coach bag for my birthday a few years back. It’s not too big or too small. I can throw two sippy cups and some other junk in there and not have to carry a separate diaper bag. For some reason, I can’t stand diaper bags though. That being said, I just cleaned out that purse and I realized that the only two non-diaper-baggy items were my wallet and my chapstick. Sigh!

  15. BTW, this is classic “To him, the size of my purse is directly proportional to the size of my underwear which is directly proportional to the size of my vehicle, and before he knows what has happened, I’ll be rocking full-on granny panties while driving Rowan to soccer practice in a minivan.”

    Hilarious! :)

  16. I like having lots of bags (totes, purses, etc) that I can switch around. Aside from a couple of Tokidoki bags, I get cheap, no-name ones. I always say that I’d rather have (10) $10 bags than (1) $100 bag.

    I was hoping for a photo of the Target bag. I actually bought a canvas diaper bag at Target to carry Rusty’s stuff in when we do therapy dog visits. I have to have a towel, brush, extra leash, water, and other stuff. I was a teeny bit embarrassed buying it since I’m not a mom.

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