THE BAG OF LEONTIEN

The other day a mechanic came in to replace our electricity meter, which is located behind a door we never open because we use it to store things we don’t necessarily need at that moment and apparently at neither moment.

Between a broken coffeemaker, an airless soccer ball and some leftover cat litter from a cat who no longer lives here, there she was: My little black leather handbag that had been lost for a while.

The bag I brought to work, but also to go out and party. That always carried cigarettes, but not always a lighter. Where my phone once got stolen from while I left the zipper open looking for that exact lighter in a nightclub.

The bag that was actually too small for anything, like lunch, so I often drove my bike along the canals with a croissant in my mouth and a pain au chocolat in my hand. It always contained a red lipstick, because back then wearing make up was not for special occasions only.

I have good memories of it, and we will most likely not make new ones together. It offers no space for diapers, wet wipes, butt ointment, spare pacifiers, sippy cups and half eaten cookies.

Not for the babycarrier I use when my back protests against the weight of my son, and the little dried out flowers my daughter picks for me. Neither the candy wrappers and the used, crunchy handkerchiefs. It’s not large enough to carry the groceries at the end of the day. I am a mother, and I don’t carry a bag, I schlep one.

She has to endure, that bag.

Sometimes I replace her when she wears out, or when the mud got the best of her. But in any of those bags, there’s always my little mesh pouch, in which I keep things that are solely mine.

A hand cream to keep my knuckles from feeling like sandpaper, a side-effect of having to wash my hands too many times a day because of all the shit (the feces kind) I have to deal with.

A lipbalm, always the same brand*, that I should replace for a bottle of water, being the only matter that avoids chappy lips. But the balm smells so nice and water is too bulky.

A small bottle of deodorant that I once bought because I smelled like rotten onions after half an hour of biking around the city with 30 kilograms worth of children. Unfortunately that appeared to be no exception, so I was forced to keep it. The eco-friendly variant I rub under my armpits in the morning just doesn’t cope with my swift lifestyle.

The wallet my best friends gifted me for my 30th birthday, and which to my regret isn’t filled with what it is meant for but however is overflowing of subscriptions to the zoo, discount cards and crumpled receipts.

The bracelet saying “Mama” my daughter made me, utterly under my guidance because she can’t read or tie a knot, but that doesn’t make it less adorable.

And as with anything thats just for me the kids slowly but surely take it over and fill it with candy. For theirselves, of course.

When the rare moment occurs I have the opportunity to leave the house all by myself, I don’t even bring a bag anymore. It feels like excess luggage I’d rather leave behind. My wallet, phone and keys are crammed into my coat pockets and I race through the city on a bike without child seats.

And after an hour or so I miss those kids and their corresponding luggage anyway.
*Nuxe Rêve de miel, you’re welcome.

My name is Leontien Prenger, a photographer from Amsterdam and mother of Nori (4) and Tomi (1) For the renewed website of Maed For Mini I will talk to fellow parents about the contents of their handbags. What does it say about their lives and which items are they attached to the most?

We all have a story to tell, whats theirs?

Next week part 1 with Miriam Pataki, foodblogger and mother of 3 girls.