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« Nanny Love | Main | Coughing, Sneezing, Runny Nose, Fever So No Rest Kinda Week »

The Diaper Bag Metaphor


Confession: Sometimes I resent my diaper bag. It feels like a ball and chain, representing the fancy-free lifestyle I no longer have. 

Ever wonder why women are expected to carry all "the stuff?" Why don't men carry "the stuff?" 

I had an epiphany about this recently while reading Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup. She says: 

The uterus and ovaries [are]...both literally and figuratively creative space, out of which women can produce babies, relationships, money, careers, novels, insights, and other creative or artistic works. 

When I think of the uterus as potential space, I also think of what we as women are usually expected to 'store' in there. A slang term for the uterus is 'the bag,' and as humans who have or have had a uterus, we are also the ones who carry all the stuff that others don't want to carry. Women who are married and have children often notice that their children give them - not their husband - the half-eaten food, gum wrappers, and other garbage that they no longer want to carry. 

This is a fascinating way to think of the diaper bag! It is an extension of pregnancy - a continuation of the way we "carry" our children. We carry their "stuff!" 

Even if your husband does sometimes shoulder the diaper bag, he doesn't share ownership. It isn't the family bag, even though it is a necessity for the family. It is YOUR diaper bag and yours to pack it on a regular basis. Daddy lacks a uterus that is used to accomodating all the the family's needs. 

These days I can't leave the house without the following in my diaper bag:  

  • Ava's diapers
  • Ava's wetbag
  • Changing pad
  • Nursing cover
  • Extra outfit for Ava (in case of an accident)
  • Wipes
  • Burp cloth
  • Swaddle blanket
  • Extra underpants for Miles (in case of an accident)
  • Extra pants for Miles (in case of an accident)
  • Miles' milk cup
  • Miles' travel potty
  • Medicine bag (an old makeup bag filled with Neosporin, teething gel, gas drops, baby Tylenol, and Band-Aids)
  • Coloring books/activity games for Miles
  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Keys
  • Tissues

I carry all this shit! 24/7. On my person!

No wonder I resent that damn bag, no matter how much I love the Marc Jacobs design that my sister picked out. It is heavy and uncomfortable and I can never get it to close properly. BUT it is also my privilege as a woman! 

If the diaper bag represents my reproductive uterus, I should learn to love it. It produced two gorgeous and healthy babies. So then it is my biological privilege to carry all "the stuff." My husband can't do that with the same meaning. It is part of what makes motherhood kind of amazing. 

So the next time Miles decides he is done decorating his sister with stickers and hands me the rest of the sheet to put back in my Mary Poppins carpet bag of "stuff," I will remember that it is my privilege to be the one carrying all this stuff. One day, they will both be long gone, carrying their own stuff, and I will miss the days of finding soggy puffs stuck to my iPhone. 

Miles takes stickers from Mommy's diaper bag and decorates his sister.

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Reader Comments (4)

Even if your husband does sometimes shoulder the diaper bag, he doesn't share ownership

I think this may be because the majority of diaper bags look like women's handbags. Men feel uncomfortable holding their partner's handbags at the best of times ;-)

I had a look at some more dad friendly bags on my AussieGeekDad blog a couple of months ago, although even that didn't work as my wife got a handbag style bag in the end anyway!

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAussieGeekDad

I stopped carrying my diaper bag a little after Elle turned one. I don't like it! I just have a "box" of supplies in the car that I replenish the stocks frequently so I can grab a diaper and wipes if we are going to the shopping area, or a pair of pants or a book, etc. I use the large storage space in my stroller too. I feel SO much better. I also use a backpack when flying - do much more convenient. I hate how the straps on my diaper bag always wanted I fall off when I would pick up Elle. Does that me less of a mother?

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

At least we can get stylish bags to carry all that "Shit" in. :)

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAleesha

I completely agree with AussieGeekDad. After my first diaper bag broke, I got a book bag style one. It's not so cute but I thought it'd be a lot more comfortable on 2 shoulders than one. But now my husband carries it about 80% of the time. I mean we can't expect them to take ownership of a bag with pink polka dots or flowers on it, can we? We are branding it our bag when we get one like that.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

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