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I'm Entering The Empty Nest Stage Of Purses

Yes, our handbags speak to all our life stages.

My daughter -- aka the love of my life, the reason for my next breath, my daily dose of sunshine -- will be leaving for college in the fall. I am already not doing well. No lectures necessary; I know that when the time comes, I will rise to the occasion. When she takes this next step, she will not know a whit about how much pain that step is causing me.

In preparation, I have already done the one thing I know will help: I switched to a smaller handbag.

My handbags have always reflected the stages of my life. As a single career woman, I carried what was known as a ladies' briefcase. It was thinner than its male equivalent and had little pouches on the inside for a lipstick tube and a hair brush. Mine was made of fine Italian black leather. But to open it, it was necessary to put the briefcase down on a flat surface and undo the snaps. Highly impractical for every day life, but most impressive at business meetings. I'd swing that puppy down on the conference room table, enjoy the little ping the snaps made when released, and take out my notepad just like the big boys at the table. 

Motherhood introduced me to the world of totes and bags the size of carry-on luggage. Cavernous bags, they were, each one larger than the next as the kids and their needs grew. Those bags saw books for long car rides, snacks for the entire soccer team, extra sweaters, sunscreen, juice boxes, and the kindergarten's first-100-days-of-school project made of macaroni pieces. 

I've stayed with large bags even through the teen years. Right or wrong, my interpretation of the "try to say 'yes' to your kids" advice has been to be their depository. I am the one who always has a spare pen, who has a hairbrush, who carries the water bottles and the hand sanitizer. In our house, the "Have you seen my _____?" question is generally answered with "Look in my bag."

Well now, I am downsizing -- both in the number of kids who will live under my roof full-time and in the size of my handbag. I've switched to a small cross-body bag that no longer causes my right shoulder to hurt from the weight of its contents. It holds my wallet, keys and phone and little else.

And lo and behold, my downsizing has forced my soon-to-be-departing, about-to-be-a-college-student daughter -- and her own handbag -- to grow by several leaps and bounds. In it she has her own phone charger, her own Kindle, her own postage stamps and insurance cards. And why yes, on family outings, I kind of enjoy her reaction to her brother asking if she could hold his sweatshirt for him.

I'm thinking this is just another notch on the life cycle belt.

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