When it comes to baby gear, I learned last time that there are a few items worth splurging on even when you’re on a budget. For example, our stroller. Last time I bought a used Graco Stroller Frame for $15 on craigslist. Got the job done quite well and super cheap.
But I’d abandoned that stroller before baby #2. Why? Because it flat-folds. And that means it takes up the entire floor of my trunk. It drove me kinda crazy last time since we have a tiny car, so I knew this time around I would shell out some more cash to get an umbrella fold stroller frame.
On the left is my new Cybex Callisto. On the right is our Maclaren Volo umbrella. (Also from craigslist.) The Maclaren is about as tiny as you get, and the Cybex isn’t much bigger. It was definitely a worthwhile purchase. I am grateful that I can load my trunk with groceries again.
Yesterday I added another splurge. A diaper bag. Originally I’d planned to get one just like I had before with Graham, a Skip Hop Dash Deluxe.
But the one I ordered was lost by UPS. And when I started looking for another one I found that they are apparently getting discontinued. (There are still some on Amazon and other sites, but not on the main SkipHop page and not in most stores.)
Around this time I started to think that maybe I didn’t want a messenger style bag. Maybe I could just stick with something that looks more like a purse so I can take it with me everywhere. Thus began my epic search for a new diaper bag. One with lots of pockets. One with plenty of space. One that wasn’t too big or bulky. One that had a place to put my wallet and lipstick along with pockets for diapers and such. One that I didn’t hate.
It was a rough go. Finally I had to reach out to the masses for advice.
My diaper bag hunt is going badly. Want one that isn't too bulky with a secure compartment for wallet, stroller clips, not messenger style.
— Jessica (@jessicaesquire) March 14, 2012
And the masses sent me to the people who make actual purses. So I decided on a last minute trip to the outlets. I came home with this:
I now own a Coach bag. A baby bag, but still.
I do love it. I love the color. I love that it’s reminiscent of a 60’s air hostess bag or a bowling bag. I am grateful it doesn’t have the Coach logo all over it. And it fulfills my general requirements. (Except for stroller clips, but I’m pretty sure I can live without them or find some.)
It is a purse-purse, it is one that is actually my style, and I use these justifications to make up for the fact that I paid over $100 for it.
It does come with some problems, though.
For example, I now own a Coach bag. I am not that kind of girl. I bought my last purse at Marshall’s and felt bad that it was $60. And while my new bag doesn’t have the Coach logo, it does say “Coach” on it. And it makes me worry that people will see that “Coach” and think I am a certain type of person. When I am most definitely not.
This shouldn’t worry me. I’ll tell you why it does. Because I am that kind of obnoxious, super-judgmental person who looks at what someone is wearing and judges them.
Like when I took Tessa to the pediatrician, I saw a Mom there and examined her head to toe. Shiny flats. Straight jeans, rolled up at the bottom (I’ve been seeing that lately, is that back in?). Name brand puffy vest. Preppy shirt. Big wedding ring. Name brand sunglasses on her head. Shiny gold giant purse. And her toddler was immaculately dressed. This is a terrible habit of mine. And I assume everyone else does the same thing.
Of course, if I were to examine myself I would look beyond the cute Coach bag. I would see the jeans that are too long and loose to be in style. I would see the t-shirts from Old Navy. I would see the frizzy hair. I would see the lack of makeup. And I would think, “Oh, she is frumpy but has a nice bag.”
Still. It makes me self-conscious kinda. My stroller does, too, actually. While I hunted until I found it at an excellent bargain price (last year’s model, on ebay) it resembles the fancy shmancy strollers that cost over $500. And I worry that people will look at me and think I am the kind of person who would drop $800 on a stroller.
I obviously need to get over myself. I blame living in Brookline last year, where everyone had the fancy strollers and cute flats and expensive yoga pants. I know my place in that world. I am the frumpy just-rolled-out-of-bed girl who didn’t spend an hour making it look like I just rolled out of bed. I literally just rolled out of bed. Somehow being surrounded by the preppy girls has made me cling to my non-preppy identity.
But the practical part of me wins. I had a good stroller and a good bag as two of my most important purchases for this baby. And since we have a lot of stuff already, I could justify that I didn’t get them on craigslist this time. (Things we bought on craigslist for Graham: aforementioned stroller, other aforementioned stroller, diaper champ, exersaucer, baby bjorn, peapod sleep tent, etc.)
Maybe it’s just the being-a-mom thing that makes my identity so important to me. I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m one of the few parent bloggers who doesn’t have some variant of the word “mom” in my url or twitter handle or facebook page. I feel a need to exert myself as something beyond a parent. I guess the idea of the fancy stroller and fancy diaper bag make me feel like I’m presenting myself a little bit more as a capital-M Mom. Or maybe I feel like it’s trying too hard to present myself as someone who’s still fashionable despite being a Mom, even though I wasn’t fashionable to start with.
I don’t know. I’m not exactly sure why a purse is giving me an identity crisis.
But I do know that the purse is damn cute. And I’m keeping it.