The things my kids carry.

When my kids were little, I was always fascinated by the things they carried in their pockets. Sometimes it would be a favorite toy—more often it would be something unusual like a name tag or lanyard from a conference I attended or a pair of oversized football gloves or a lipstick slipped off my dresser while my head was turned.

My oldest used to smuggle her very life-like baby doll into her school backpack. Now, she carries her script for Dracula, everywhere, (and her cell phone and her very own lipstick). Oh and that babydoll still goes to sleepovers (and she’s not remotely embarrassed to admit it).

My middle would almost always have sunglasses and a tiara when she was little. Now as a 5th grader, her bag is still stuffed with sunglasses, but also her cell phone and her notebook and pen. With her pen, she is always writing little notes and drawing her signature heart people—then she tucks those treasures in my bag.

My youngest—he remains as he’s been since the beginning—the ultimate hoarder. A peek into his soccer bag feels like one is looking into an abandoned storage unit—flyers and name tags and candy and shin guards and mismatched socks and gloves and sunglasses and his friend Connie’s softball picture.

And if you looked in my bag, you’d see a constantly changing landscape. There were the days when I carried items that were only mine—a phone, a wallet, a mirror, my lipstick—then the days when my bag grew, along with my family ,and I had changes of clothes and diapers and pacifiers and baby food and toys. And today, you might find a single soccer shin guard, page 48 to the Dracula script (which my middle schooler left on the dining room table) and one of those heart people with a note that says, “I love you Mommy.”

All these scattered bits of love and chaos are my favorite things to carry. The single shin guard reminds me of my little guy who asks every soccer practice to be the goalie, because he always wants to save the day. The Dracula script reminds me that my beautiful teenager—my funny, dramatic girl—still needs her mom once in a while to save the day. And those little notes—those are the notes that remind me that my days are saved, because I get to carry their sweet love in my heart, always.

This is blog 1 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge—a month long challenge to publish a blog once a day. Thanks to my writing boss, editor extraordinaire and friend Elisa (you can read her blog here) for introducing me to the challenge. I love a good theme—so this month, I am going to try to write about the things we carry. One of my favorite short stories—perhaps the best ever written in this writer’s opinion—is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. The story is of a solider on the ground in Vietnam and what he carried and why. 

We all carry things in our pockets, in our memories, stuck to our shoes, in our hearts and on our backs. This month, I am going to write about all the things: the things I carry, the things I’d like to put down for a while and maybe the things I'd like to pick up.