The Zippered Pocket

I had the shakes. I was jittery. I kept biting the skin around my nails.  And it wasn’t just because of the excessive coffee I drank.

Although walking in sunshine and over-eating fresh pasta and flaky, buttery pastries are excellent, highly recommended coping mechanisms (which I assure you I employed to the very best of my ability), I still managed to pathologically miss my children on vacation last week.

I just… really missed them.

I know. I’m an embarrassment to exhausted mamas everywhere, and I should have my vacation credentials revoked.

The truth is I was gracious and kind last week except when I was pissy and unlivable. My emotions came in tsunami-like waves with crests that rose on rushes of exhilaration and troughs created by fear. I was deliriously happy at the freedom to sleep when I was tired, to stop for a cappuccino when the mood struck, and to pee in blessed solidarity. And I was terribly afraid that something awful would happen to my kids while I was irresponsibly away, because no matter how many times I try not to listen to the untruths, I’m entranced by the lie that my presence is required to avert catastrophe.

I think it’s fair to call it a roller coaster week.

Or maybe it was just a week.

After all, it was pretty typical for messy, complicated, mama me. Ups and downs. Triumphs and fears. Kindness and cruelty.

I’ve noticed that taking myself on vacation requires me to deal with myself there, much like I’m required to deal with myself every day and in real life. That feels, somehow, like a terribly unfair expectation for a vacation, but it is, nevertheless, true.

Of course, it helped soothe me that Greg was out of his mind last week, as well. I could tell by the way he kept saying ridiculous things like, “Beth. The kids are fine. They are not pining for us. I bet they’re even enjoying their time with others.”


Logic was lost on him, you guys! He was completely without reason.

Which is why it was probably silly of me to ask Greg to put my pen back in my purse for me.

I mean, of all the times to give someone an important task, in the midst of mutual insanity is not one of them. I should’ve known better, and, frankly, I’m pretty sure this exact situation was covered in our premarital counseling sessions when our counselor said that a) communication might be an ongoing challenge for us, and, specifically, b) to not ever ask Greg to put my pen away for me when I’m strung out on vacation and incapable of handling, oh, anything.

Our premarital counselor really knew his way around a crystal ball.

So I handed Greg my pen, and do you know what he did?

He put it in the only zippered pocket in my purse.


He did!

Like it’s not obvious that the only zippered pocket in my purse is exclusively reserved for important things like my phone and cash and chapstickand that pens are supposed to be tossed haphazardly into the abyss where I have to shuffle through pennies and matchbox cars and wads of my kids’ chewed gum that are poorly wrapped in old gas receipts. Doy.

I asked Greg why he did it. Why – oh, why – he so poorly used the single, solitary zippered pocket?

He looked at me like I was the crazy one, and he said he did it because – and I’m going to just go ahead and quote him here so I’m not projecting my feelings about the situation or misleading you in any way – “I thought you might want to find it again later.”

That’s what he said… he thought I might want to find it again later.

Oh yeah? Well, I didn’t want the pen in the zippered pocket even if it appeared to belong there. Even if it made more sense there. Even if it served a purpose there.

Good grief. I mean, if God intended my purse to be for finding things instead of losing things, I’m pretty sure that God would’ve made different decisions while working the line in the purse factory, perhaps creating mine with more than one pocket. Way to question God’s plan, ya know? I hope you’re watching out for lightening, Greg; I really do.

And, anyway, what good is it to find my pen the first time I look? That makes no sense. I need to search and sigh and grumble and dump out handfuls of trash and say things like, “I know I have a pen in here somewhere.” It’s the struggle that makes it worthwhile. You can’t just expect things to be easy, you know.

Greg said that things aren’t always easy, but that I make things more difficult than they need to be.






My important, philosophical point is this – purses are like life:

  • I dump things in them in haphazard fashion.
  • It takes way longer than I’d like to figure out what I need to carry for myself, what I need to carry for others, and where to fit all the pieces.
  • And it turns out that, sometimes, things I don’t expect find their way into my inner sanctum, my cherished space, my zippered pocket.

I was both more and less than I wanted to be last week. Better and worse. Gentler and more biting.

And I missed my kids. A lot. Which is something that keeps showing up in my zippered pocket, even though I didn’t put it there on purpose.

Perhaps, rather than trying to dump Missing My Kids out every time I see it taking up space in the inner sanctum, or complain about not wanting it there, I can think of my longing for my children like the pen…

… something I discover much more quickly than I intend

… something that makes me uncomfortable when I find it right there in the middle of the most important places

….but also something to recognize that I need to touch frequently

because, like it or not, that’s who I am, and that’s what belongs tucked carefully inside my zippered pocket.


What about you? What’s in your zippered pocket?


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28 responses to “The Zippered Pocket”

  1. In my zippered pocket-plumping lip balm. The tingle and tinge of color remind me that I am a beautiful, sensual woman, dammit, despite all other evidence to the contrary.
    In my metaphysical zippered pocket-that’s a lot more difficult. Perhaps my desire to help others, and my need to love and be loved by them. Or something like that. Feelings are hard!

  2. The analogies you draw amaze me… coming from the girl whose husband has to STOP using analogies because she gets confused! 😉
    I think in my inner space I would find the need for space. For quiet and silence. Not that I actually do that for myself when I have the time. It’s what I need to recharge since my oldest 2 got that Roberts talking gene…
    But I also need their “nuggles” and even the rambunctious attack hugs ’round the legs. Although I could probably do without the stepping on random carpet colored Legos… 😉

    • Ha! Krista, I confuse EVERYONE, most especially myself. 😉

      I hear you on the need for silence… as an introvert and mama of 5, it’s one of my strangest “requirements” and, of course, it often goes unmet. Ah, well. We mamas do without because those nuggles really are worth it..

      (P.S. My feet hurt now. They’re having phantom carpet-Lego pains. Thanks a lot. ;))

  3. My purse is frightening. And it’s not even that big. Which had me so frustrated when I couldn’t find something this morning. In my zippered pocket: my iPhone, when it’s not in my hand!


  4. My husband does crazy things like that, too.
    I have kind of the same thing in my zippered pocket. When my husband says, (wink-wink) that our son should spend the night at his Grandma’s, well, I know I SHOULD get excited at that prospect, but……yeah, I feel ya.

  5. I have a ridiculous habit of putting totally non-consequential things in my zippered pocket, and dropping the important stuff down into the dredges. I’m pretty sure I do that with life, too. :/

  6. I find chaous in my zippered pocket. When things are normal, I get bored. No wonder I am a home school mom, with babies, in school full time myself, with a husband in Afghanistan.

    I love your analogy of the pen, mainly, because it was true. I am like that, too. I find myself asking questions to my husband like, Why did you put the milk in the fridge??

    Thanks for being a citizen of crazy town with us!!

    • “Why did you put the milk in the fridge??” Hehehe… I’ll bet that NEARLY EVERY WOMAN reading this can totally understand. I always have a perfectly sane woman inside my head asking me why I say the rabidly INSANE things I say. But Insane Me never has a good answer.

      Oh well.

      At least I’m in grand company.

      Love to you.

  7. Oh, Beth! I love you! More than a person should love some random blogger who she just started following a few months ago. (Ok, stalker-ish!!) You seem to have the knack for putting to words what I can not. In my zipper pocket would be the fact that I can’t believe in a few short weeks I will be the mother of TWO girls. The fact that I can’t seem to spend enough time with my only, before she becomes my oldest, and the need to tell my husband multiply times a day how wonderful and amazing he is (something that I only remember to do occasionally).
    Sometimes you just have to take a second to check to see what made it into your pocket while you weren’t looking. I hope you did enjoy your vacation just a little…but I know that nothing’s better that coming home!

    • Aw. Thanks, Jess! What a wonderfully kind comment.

      And CONGRATULATIONS on your impending mamahood! I love that you’re soaking up and paying attention NOW to the time you have with your first girl… you’ll never regret being intentional about this time. Smart, smart mama. And I’m wishing you every blessing with your baby to come…


  8. Oh, Beth! You really are the freakiest freaker of all freaks! I really appreciate you making the rest of us look so…normal! Hahahahaha! No, really, thanks for “getting it” for all of us mamas, no matter what our freak-out points are, and making us think about what our zippered pockets are. You are an amazing mom who loves her children immensely and I would know!

  9. You’re not alone…

    I get physical withdrawal symptoms anytime my 5 year old is away with relatives. It’s supposed to give my husband and I much needed alone time but mostly I sit around with sweaty palms and an upset stomach wondering what she’s doing.

    AND…. everyone knows the zippered pocket is for tampons, the solitary earring still pining for its lost mate, and lipstick. I mean, c’mon, that should have been obvious to Greg!

    • I identified with every single word, Amanda, except the tampon part.

      Do you mean to say that your tampons aren’t crushed at the bottom of your purse so that the sanitary covering is broken open and you have to blow of bottom-of-the-purse shrapnel off of it before using said tampon? STRANGE! (And, note to self: consider relocating tampons to zippered pocket. Amanda’s way sounds nice.)

  10. I guess I have different priorities, something about a pathological NEED to draw at the oddest times, but I have 2 pens and a mechanical pencil in my zippered pocket and my cash goes in the jumble at the bottom of no man’s land…..

  11. I should probably regard my wife’s purse as “No Man’s Land”, but I’m too stupid to learn. Her purse is definitely NOT disorganized: her purse seems to be organized based on complex algorithms that only she comprehends.

    Either way, Greg, it’s a potential mine field, isn’t it?

  12. I just started following your blog in the last week or two. You have a way with words, and I like your honesty. 🙂

    We recently had our first weekend without kids in 3.5 years, and it was WEIRD. I had lots of expectations, but no money. I had potential plans, aaaand my husband had to work late!! GAHHH! He even had to work an extra shift that weekend, and I had to act as if that didn’t RUIN MY LIFE on our only weekend without kids since prior to his last deployment in the army. It was actually harder than I expected to not clean (the kids stayed with friends), but I refused until right before I picked the kids up, and only then because I wanted to pick them up and not have much of an agenda once we got home. But during the weekend I had all these things I could do – READ in the middle of the day when I’m still alert enough to think. Not be dragged out of bed to prepare breakfast and juice cups. And somehow none of it was as wonderful as I felt like it should have been. I almost had too many choices, HA, and no driving force. Shame on me. I kind of felt empty left to myself, like I had asked my good friend to take care of my whirlwind kids for me to what? Be empty instead of overwhelmed for a change. My husband does not get it. He seems to have no sense of boredom, or maybe he just doesn’t over think everything and can appreciate it easier. 😛

    So obviously what I figured out was that all I’ve been wanting is to do what I want when I want – all the time, HAHA!, not on an isolated weekend when I can’t make up my mind and have a husband at work half that time. That obviously makes me feel really ungrateful for my friends who were awesome enough to babysit, but it’s there. My not so secret truth is that I still just want it all! And, of course, during that weekend, there were times when what I wanted was to actually do something with my kids or talk to them or at least think about them really often. 😛 Because they are so much part of “it all” now.

    (Actually the first thing I did after I dropped my kids off and before my husband came home was go out with MY MOM without my kids getting her attention and then go to my parents house while I wait out my buzz. I cannot forget the awesomeness of that.)

    I did convince my husband to come with me to an amusement park for a short while, I did some clearance shopping that I never bother to do with toddlers in tow (and tried things on!), and I got to get myself out of bed two days in a row even if I didn’t actually sleep in. It turned out well, and I did appreciate it. I learned something about myself that I wasn’t trying to learn and got a breather for a couple days.

  13. I keep expecting to find order and a clean freak… But what I really find is a desire to just be there with extended family and wishing money weren’t an issue so that we could. I KNOW we’re where we are supposed to be, but I wish we could be close enough to put families to be part of their lives physically and frequently.

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