Ah, my shiny gift to self for Mother's Day. An extravagance I know (though I got it off ebay new with tags for much less that the retail price), but one also intended for symbolic use. Yesterday I made a rare city trip with a girlfriend who is two years younger than me but has two babies under the age of two. She is stunningly beautiful, stylish, educated, intelligent and well-spoken. But living in suburbs in the lower socio-economic demographic, seeing a young girl with young children leads people to instantly think knocked-up-teen. What happened to the world such that young women can't have children without being scrutinised and judged? We're far from teenagers really, being in our early twenties. But it's hard to convey specific age, and even harder to show that you are an educated young woman whose pregnancy and resulting children are the highlight of her life rather than an accident with some life-long casualties.
My friend used the example of a circle of very young mothers on a train platform, blatantly smoking around the strollers and ignoring the bored pleas of their children. We're trying not to judge, but we also don't want anyone to associate us with them. How do we do it? Walk down the other end of the platform. Somehow try to ooze sophistication and class? Not the easiest thing to do with a wriggly, whiny baby, no matter your age. Sometimes I feel hesitant in admonishing Wolf for throwing things or hitting and biting when I walk him around in public. Will I come off as one of those careless young mothers yelling at their kids all the time? I'm terrified that some old lady will tut tut me and shake her head, much the way my grandmother used to when she saw young mothers around town.
It was much easier to look like happy young mothers when we arrived in the city and had a messy but enjoyable lunch at a cafe in Federation Square. The kids were free to play and make noise, and we managed a rare non-home cooked lunch in architecturally beautiful surrounds (a debatable opinion for some). The waitresses were attentive and friendly. We had a lovely walk to Birrarung Marr along the Yarra river path, enjoying the sunny weather and talked baby poo and mother-in-laws. We smiled at other parents and they responded in kind.
The demographic of your location can have a massive affect on how you are interpreted. In a poorer area, you're a silly girl who got herself into trouble, in a richer area, you are a lucky young woman with a beautiful child and a lot of wonderful life experiences to come. I know I shouldn't care, but I admit my confidence as a mother is affected when I think I'm being judged poorly.
So back to the bag. It probably sounds ridiculous, but it is part of a mother-hood style makeover. I've been progressively emptying my wardrobe of my more bizarre fashion choices (and there have been many. I love weird things.) and replacing them with basics, multiple pairs of properly fitting jeans (no more mummy-bum crack, save that for work) and everything easy to wash. Sensible choices for a sensible person, or least someone trying to become sensible.
My first baby bag was one of those insane Gwen Stefani Harajuku Lovers creations. Pink, blue and yellow shell printed bag with lots of zips and charms and keychains. Very...colourful. Pockets stuffed with tissues and crumbs. It's been nearly a year since Wolf was born, so I'm graduating to my new black Il Tutto Nico bag. It's a little shiny; I wasn't going to get something that wasn't at least pretty. It's the first time I've ever spent proper money on a bag actually made of leather. Most of my bags are machine-washable things, not that they've ever water that wasn't rain or a leaking water-bottle.
Call the bag a talisman. A symbol. A glaring neon sign that says 'LOOK! I like being a mum! I even got a proper bag and everything!'
I suppose my tattoos don't help much do they. I'll think about how to work on that one later.