Diaper Bag Memories


I bought a diaper bag in the weeks leading up to my son’s birth. It was a sensible black bag with quilted fabric, an inner lining, multiple zippered partitions, a special compartment for a changing pad, and straps that were just long enough, but not too long. As I researched diaper bags all those years ago, I remember thinking that this bag will go with everything.

And it has done just that. This diaper bag has been on every single outing our family has gone on for the past seven years. It was at the hospital the day my son was born, sparkly and new and full of hope and anticipation for the days ahead. It was at my sister’s wedding a few months later, and then at my father’s funeral in the fall of that same year, and my grandmother’s funeral the next year. 

3.5 years after my son was born, it was with me again in the hospital as my daughter was born, this time not so shiny and new, but with plenty of miles left to go. It attended my brother’s wedding later that year, and just last year, it sat in the pew beside me as we laid my father-in-law to rest.

It has been as far as Texas and back, a few times. It’s been strewn across gas station changing tables, on counters at restaurants, on the field at soccer practice, and too many other places to name. It’s one of the few things I can think of, besides my kids themselves, that has always been with us all these years.

The bag eventually started to show its age, and I’ll admit I considered trading it in for a newer, shinier model. But something always stopped me.

When I look at that bag, I don’t see the faded fabric, or the frayed edges, or the misshapen pockets. I see myself as a brand new mom, digging my pumping supplies out of that bag with one hand while balancing my baby in the other. I see myself tenderly folding extra changes of tiny clothes and placing them neatly inside. I see my husband pulling out wipes for a snotty nose, or balancing the bag in the back of the car as he conducts an emergency diaper change in a random parking lot. I see burp cloths and bottles, now long gone. I see snacks and sunscreen and crayons and toys all stuffed inside. I see tiny little newborn diapers, then larger and larger diapers, then pull-ups and extra underwear, and now, finally…nothing.

Besides the occasional night-time pull-up, we are officially out of the diaper stage. And, while it’s a huge relief and something we’ve been striving for all along, the reality of it takes my breath away. I still carry the bag with me most places, even though we don’t really need it anymore. “It has the snacks!,” I say, desperate for an excuse. “We might need a change of clothes!,” I reason.

I guess eventually I’ll stop reaching for the bag, without really even noticing. Then one day, it’ll catch my eye and I’ll decide to empty it out and retire it for good. I’ll wash it and store it tenderly away, and every now and then I’ll see it in the closet and longingly remember all the sweet times we shared – when my babies were little.

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Haley McManigal
Hi there! I’m Haley, a middle-aged-momma to Lukas and Laney, and wife to Dan. I’ve lived in East Tennessee my whole life, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. After moving all over Knox County and surrounding areas, my family has settled in Hardin Valley where we intend to stay at least until the kids graduate from high school. My son was born in 2017, changing my life forever, and my daughter completed our family in 2020. I work as an architect and project manager at a global design firm. I think it’s pretty cool that I get to meet with people from all over the world from my home office on a daily basis. I am happiest when I’m able to strike just the right balance between home and work life. But my family is my greatest treasure and my most fulfilling role in life so far is Mommy. My favorite things are reading, writing, cooking, exploring, and making things. I don’t have much free time these days but when I’m able to squeeze in a few of these activities it really pays off. I love being a part of Knoxville Moms and I cherish the opportunity to share this journey of motherhood here with you!


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