For Christmas my Mom gave me a beautiful, leather Fossil purse. It was an incredible color; somewhere between magenta and the perfect pink. I like my purses colorful and exciting. Dumb as it sounds it reminded me of the girl I used to be.
I’m not much of a shoe person. Nope. My love has always been along the line of handbags. Big, hobo bags that can carry every thing including the stuff that doesn’t fit into Parker’s diaper bags. Handbags that people notice and compliment. My standard, easy to wash and keep a kid alive in, uniform of yoga pants and baggy tops may be a giant fashion don’t, but my bags, well, they let people know that I do still have a bit of style……..somewhere.
This Fossil was the nicest bag I’ve had ever had. Leather. The real stuff. I kept it hanging in it’s pristine perfection in my closet until Spring came. It lifted my spirits just knowing it was there.
The day we took Parker on his school field trip fishing, I carried it with me. Right before I got out of the car I grabbed the container of hand sanitizers and threw them into my purse. We use a lot of hand sanitizers around here and I’d run out of the individually wrapped ones.
What I didn’t notice when I threw that container of hand sanitizing wipes into my purse was that there was a bit of a wipe sticking out of the top.
It wasn’t until the next day that I noticed the stains on my purse. At first I thought I had set it down in a bit of water and thought it would dry out in time. Except it didn’t. Well, it dried leaving a huge stain on the bottom front. Even after researching and making some calls and putting to use every idea I was given, it didn’t take long to realize that the purse was ruined.
When it comes to things, there are only a few that are really just mine, meaning that all of my kids know, without even asking, that these items are off limits. My camera. My purse.
When you are Mama to six kids hardly anything is just yours. Time. Money. Tweezers. Your phone charger. Even the last piece of watermelon that you actually licked thinking it would defer anyone else from eating it winds up mysteriously disappearing.
Having a nice purse reminded me that under all the weight I’ve gained from the stress of keeping Parker alive still resided a bit of the girl I used to be. The one who had time to take care of herself. The one who had no idea that a child could be born without a tush that worked or with a disease that would forever threaten to take a child away from her.
Carrying this purse gave me hope that I would indeed fan the flames that would lead me to work to gain my health…..and my self esteem back.
When you are standing in line at the pharmacy, covered in a mixture of snot and vomit, the opportunity to shower being a far off destination, knowing that I had a great purse slung over my shoulder made me feel a bit more human.
Shallow? Perhaps. Effective? Absolutely.
The purse is ruined. And like some special needs Mama Phoenix I’m trying to climb out of the ashes reminding myself that ‘things’ are a weak way to try and build your self esteem. Self esteem needs to come from within. From truly liking who you are. From a strong relationship with your Heavenly Father.
But stuff? Stuff is an illusion of inner strength. It’s an illusion of what’s truly important in life. It’s an illusion of self worth.
At first I was thinking I would just get rid of my purse. But instead I’m still carrying it. One reason is that I don’t have another purse to replace it with.
But I’m finding that now this purse has a new job of reminding me who I am now. Of what I’ve learned from being Mama to a medically fragile child with special needs. Of the inner strength I’ve gained by grit and faith and a refusal to give up.
This purse also reminds me that the type of perfection the world values is an illusion. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Perfection is in the eye of a Mama of a little boy who breathes through a hole in his throat and eats directly via a hole in his stomach.
The world would look at my son and toss him away. Toss away the perfection that is Parker. Toss away one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been blessed with.
I sometimes miss the girl I used to be. But the woman I am now, well, I’m kinda proud of her and grateful for every opportunity that has made me who I am today.