The Playroom: In control

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

I lose things all the time: socks, flip flops, shoes and boots, medical forms, Sharpie markers, grocery lists, my car in the zoo parking lot, my youngest child in an amusement park, my oldest at off-ice training, the ability to be respectful when I’m being yelled at by school crossing guards, and also, and especially, my keys, my phone and my sunglasses.

After searching through my purse twice because I’m convinced my sunglasses have got to be in there, I just dump the entire contents on the dining room table. There are the normal purse things — wallet, tissue, lip gloss, sunscreen, hockey tape, binder clip, Polly Pockets, purple crayon, notepad, wipes, spare change, gas station receipts, tampons, three black ballpoint pens, two vials of ibuprofen and a single stale Cheeto — but no sunglasses.

Now I have to put my purse back together, which always makes me wonder why I have to carry three pens and the rest of all this stuff around with me all the time when really one pen would be fine, well, maybe two, just in case the first one runs out of ink.

I suppose on some level there is comfort in knowing I will always have a pen to write on gas station receipts and I’ll never run out of ibuprofen at a kindergarten birthday party where they’ve invited every kid in the class to an indoor bouncy place the size of my front room. For that I am thankful to have not one but two vials of the stuff. My fear of the unknown occurrence, of not being prepared, a fear that I might need lip gloss and not have any, has me lugging security around in a giant, over-the-shoulder bag.

I have friends who move through life with nothing but a wallet. I need a purse to put the wallet in or I’ll lose the wallet. Same with my keys and my sunglasses, which should be in my purse. The fear of not being prepared, not being in control of every situation, was one that magnified once I had a baby.

Once our first baby arrived, I became a master of the overstocked baby bag, converting baby bags into purses, purses into baby bags and adding jars of processed baby food, pacifiers, wipes and diapers and more pacifiers to my already ridiculous fear of the unknown.

As I became a more experienced mom the diaper bags got smaller and the number of diapers whittled down as I realized I could always just ask some other mom at the pool for an extra if I needed one and that life would go on without me always carrying around everything a baby could possibly need or want. As the babies grew older and became toddlers and toddlers became young children who eventually became teenagers, I realized I was no longer capable of carrying everything they could possibly need or want around with me.

I also realized I could keep an extra diaper in my car. I didn’t have to carry them with me every time we walked into a grocery store. Because truthfully? If I needed to change a diaper, I wasn’t going to do it in frozen foods; I was going back to the car, which is exactly where I found my sunglasses.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. Her website is Email her at