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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Luggage (08/15/05)

TITLE: Mama Pack Mule
By Shari Armstrong


Since my husband’s family lives in another state, we usually tried to visit for a week at Christmas, Easter and once over the summer. Occasionally, we’d squeeze in Thanksgiving weekend. We’d gotten a pretty good system down for our trips. Our luggage consisted of the free duffle bag the bank gave me as a welcome gift with my new account and a fold-over garment bag I bought in college. I’d get the clothes and other essentials packed the night before we leave. Then I’d gather all but our pillows and last minute things in the living room to be loaded the next day.

After our daughter came along, and her clothing needs got too big to fit into my bag, we added my old backpack Mom made for me to use in college. Mom used the straps from the cheap one I bought that fell apart the first week and some old denim left over from the jeans she made for my sister and me.

We carried our gear to the car in as few trips as possible, I felt like a mama pack mule, with the diaper bag and purse over my left shoulder with the baby and a grocery bag or two of stuff in my right hand. Then, my husband packed the car in a way that only he can; squeezing things in places where I’m sure not even a sardine would feel comfortable. Last, but not least, we loaded the baby in her seat in comfy clothes and bare feet, knowing she’d want her shoes off in five minutes. We squeezed in and off we went.

We timed our departures to miss rush hour in the various cities we’d go through. We learned early on, that driving at night was much better, despite my mother-in-law’s concerns about our falling asleep at the wheel. We discovered that not only was traffic lighter, our daughter slept almost the whole way, making the trip a good two hours shorter and a lot less stressful. I’m sure my mother-in-law’s endless prayers until we pulled in the driveway the next morning didn’t hurt.

We’d find ourselves nearing our destination as we saw the blue-pink sunrise just over the horizon. Once we left the highway, my husband zigged and zagged through side streets, avoiding the people rushing off to work. Our daughter woke up as the sun came up, anxious to get out of her seat. Before we knew it, we were safely in the driveway, my mother-in-law already out the door before the car was parked. We unfolded ourselves out of the car, grabbing just the baby, pillows and the diaper bag. Our daughter then got to spend time with her Nina and Pop while Mommy and Daddy got to take a quick nap.

On one particular trip, our system didn’t work quite as well. We awoke to the smell of bacon sizzling. We got our luggage from the car and prepared to shower and change. This was when we discovered that our daughter had literally only the clothes on her back. We left her backpack at home, twelve hours away. We each thought the other had grabbed it. We scoured the house for some old clothes of her cousin’s that she could wear; as she’d had a little accident about the same time we discovered she had no clothes. Her new pants safety-pinned in place, we headed off to the nearest thrift store to get her wardrobe for the week. We even managed to find a pair of Pooh Bear shoes one size bigger than the ones she recently outgrew.

I have often thought about getting a nice set of matching luggage since that trip, but they wouldn’t squish in the trunk nearly as well as the old bags. Plus, she got her big, bright “Blues Clues” backpack, which won’t be mistaken for an old pair of jeans on the floor. Since that trip, we started double and triple checking our luggage, especially when baby number two came along. As long as we didn’t forget the kids, we were doing all right. Everything else can be improvised.

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This article has been read 1330 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita Neuman08/22/05
Delightful read! I can well-relate.
Rita Garcia08/23/05
I love this story! Blessings, Rita
Tisha Martin 08/24/05
Living in a big family, I know this scenario quite well. Thanks for sharing!!
Debra Brand08/25/05
Nice story about memorable trips.
Julianne Jones08/26/05
Ah, packing the car - no one's favourite job! Nicely written. Related to this. We've never forgotten the kids, but we know of some who have! Thanks for sharing.
Maxx .08/27/05
ya gotta love it! Nice story!
Tammy Johnson08/28/05
Been there, done that. Could relate. Fun read.
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/04/05
Hi Shari! I just relized that I never read your luggage entry. :-) I like it! I especially liked the last two lines. :-D