Letting go is hard
Why Won’t My Daughter Carry a Purse? Adventures in Micromanagement
In a recurring dream, my daughter looks out onto the Capitol building. She has just been elected the 53rd President of the United States. She looks smart and radiant and self-assured. She needs a quick swipe of lipstick before she steps into history. “I don’t have any lipstick Mom.”
“Well, get some out of your purse.”
“I don’t have a purse.”
“What? Where do you keep your stuff? The key card to the White House? Your inauguration speech?”
She dips her manicured hand into the pocket of her De La Renta ball gown and pulls out a crumpled Post-it with her inauguration speech scrawled on it. Two red Skittles are stuck to the back. She eats one as the remainder clatters to the floor. I clutch my chest and then I wake up.
The story begins decades earlier, with a headstrong little girl who doesn’t really care what people think, not even me. When I tried to teach her about womanhood, at least as I knew it, one of the central tenants was the carrying of a purse. I patiently explained that the purse is a fundamental building block of life. It is the container where one prepares for all eventualities. It telegraphs status, and organizes one’s thoughts, priorities, and random stuff. The home for expired gift cards, Milano cookies, mini screwdrivers, gummy bears, and Clinique Black Honey lipstick.
My daughter has always been anti-purse. As a toddler, she outsourced purse-esque duties to parents, grandparents, babysitters and dogs. Let someone else carry the Goldfish crackers and Otter Pops. As a young child, she preferred to carry around anything of importance in her hands. If it was too big to fit, it didn’t make the cut. As a sullen teen, she would hop down the stairs hoping to slide out the door undetected. Her iPhone barely hanging on in a shallow Lululemon yoga pant pocket, wadded up cash in hand, and her ID and house key in the kangaroo pouch of her sweatshirt. Purse inquiries were met with an eye roll.
As a young adult, how does she make sense of her life? How does she not forget something important? How has she not…