2.16.13MelBagLast week I drove into San Francisco for a meeting. Mélanie was with a (wonderful!) friend for the afternoon. I parked my car and instead of the usual ritual of unloading stroller and carseat, simply grabbed my purse. As I slung the purse over shoulder, considerably lighter without changing pad, diapers, snacks, and toys, it occurred to me that in many ways my bag is a metaphor for the changes and continuities in my life since my daughter arrived (fourteen months ago last week).

Even pre-Mélanie, I could never carry a really tiny bag. It had to accommodate phone, wallet, makeup bag, daytimer and later iPad. Not to mention a litter of receipts, dinner mints, random pieces of notepaper, ticket stubs, and loose change that always seems to accumulate at the bottom. My main bag pre-Mélanie was a striped Longchamp, bought on a trip to New York, that I love. It’s nice enough to go from day to evening and large enough to hold the above items. I still use it sometimes when I carry a second bag for Mel’s stuff (here it is in a picture of Mélanie and me in Central Park on another NY trip).

But I knew once one my baby arrived my diaper bag would double as my purse most of the time. So I bought a brown Longchamp Le Pliage tote (here it is with Mel and me on Halloween).

It holds Mélanie’s gear side by side with my own, just as Mélanie now occupies a central place in my life. It’s sturdy and easy to sponge – it can stand up to lids coming off containers of mushy banana, cheerios spilling in the bottom, little hands smeared with sunscreen or food leaving prints on the outside. But it also holds my laptop and doesn’t look out of place with a tailored dress or blazer. Which seems appropriate as my life with Mélanie still involves lots of writing time and my fashion choices still run to dresses and heels. It’s a great carryon – it’s gone to New York with Mélanie and me twice. And it’s large enough to hold everything, stylish enough to go everywhere, and neutral enough to go with anything, which is pretty much vital to the life of a working mom of a toddler. It’s a multi-tasker, just as I am.

My bag felt surprisingly light on my shoulder that afternoon as I walked to the meeting. I enjoyed the meeting. I was happy that my purse could easily make the switch from diaper bag to tote filled with agendas and notes and reports. But it was great later in the evening to have the baby gear back in the my bag and my baby back in my arms.

Do you have accessories or pieces of clothing that do double duty in different parts of your life?

I posted a Valentine’s Day 1816 Fraser Correspondence letter from Charles/Malcolm to Mel/Suzette earlier this week. And there’s a “favorite literary romantic moments” contest for an ARC of The Paris Affair open through noon PST on Tuesday the 19th. Have a great weekend!