A Tribute to the Mom Purse (And the Strange Things We Find in Them)

There was recently a story that went viral on the internet about a mother who found a dead fish in her car while searching for her missing debit card. A dead fish–and she had no idea how it got there. 

But she does have kids, so suddenly a dead fish doesn’t seem all that surprising.

The dead fish got me thinking about the random things I’ve found in my purse over the six years I’ve been a mother. Most of the time, the items haven’t surprised me. A diaper. A sippy cup. A book or a game. Pretty standard “mom purse” stuff. 

But there was the time I found Barbie’s swim top in my purse, sans Barbie. The time I found my daughter’s worn underwear.  The unopened container of milk from McDonald’s that had expired months prior. And the Cheerios . . . don’t even get me started on the Cheerios. 

Moms, especially of young children, are required to haul around a lot of stuff.  The Mom Purse is one of the most important tools in child rearing. 

It has been through good times and bad.  It is there for us in our times of need.  It has helped us avert catastrophe, avoid calamity, maneuver meltdowns, and saved us from embarrassment. 

The Mom Purse has seen things that should never be mentioned again. 

In tribute to the Mom Purse, I asked some of the moms in my life what the strangest/ grossest/ weirdest thing they have found in their purses is…  

Warning: You might gag a little.


A half-eaten pouch from one of my kids. Mind you, this was several days/weeks after it was opened.

A rotting Cutie.

A friend found yogurt once – and then she ate it even though it was definitely past the temperature danger zone.

A roll from Texas Roadhouse wrapped up in a napkin that I forgot was in there.

I literally always have at least one half-eaten bagel wrapped in a paper towel in my purse. We have bagels at our church, but we’re also always late to church, so my kids only get to have a few bites before they have to go to their classes, and I stash their leftovers in my purse.

I had fruit snacks in the pocket of a sweatshirt, and washed it…yikes. Gummy, red, all over everything!

It looked like a stick, but was actually a dried up string cheese stick. REALLY dried up.

I wish I had a nickel for every time one of the kids put a half-eaten lollypop or used gum in my purse to “save it for later.”

A very, very old banana. It was nearly liquefied.

I found a year old mandarin orange petrified in my winter coat pocket. I put it in there as a snack when I drove myself alone in the middle of the night to get checked for signs of labor, only to emerge with a baby and no more need for winter coat. A year later, the memories of that night came back as I removed the petrified orange from my coat pocket.

A slice of cheese with a corner nibbled off in the coin area of my wallet.

I have a funny purse story from me as a child. My parents took us to the Cook Islands when I was five. After a long flight my mom reached into the zipper part of her purse where she put our passports and found a whole stick of butter now melted all over our passports. When she asked me why I put butter in her purse, I responded “I LOVE BUTTER!” and then started to cry because I was scared they wouldn’t have butter where we were going.

I found half of a Paradise Bakery cookie in a paper envelope stuffed in a zipper pouch that I never opened . . . so it was probably two months old.

A dried out banana peel and a salt shaker from a restaurant.

The bottom part of the cone and the blue goo from cotton candy ice cream.


Random pipe cleaners and melted crayons.

I always have matchbox cars or little tractors or equipment. 

Silly putty.

A binky, at the bottom of my purse, during a very rare Mom’s Night Out. My youngest had quit hers over a year before, and I hadn’t used that purse for at least another six months prior to that.

I found kid’s slime spilt in the bottom of my purse. One of the kids had bought it for a sibling at the school’s Santa’s Shop and it somehow ended up in my purse. It was probably in there for a while before the top got knocked off and it slimed a number of things. There are still dried remnants that solidified at the bottom that I haven’t been able to get out.


A hairy deer antler.

A dead grasshopper.

It wasn’t my purse or pocket, but when our son was about eight he found some snakes outside and he wanted to keep them. He put them in our bed then went out to play. Later that day my husband was getting ready to go to bed when my son remembered and went running in our room. We asked him what he was looking for because he was upset that what he was looking for was gone. Needless to say, not much sleep happened that night and we never did find those snakes.  I was still looking for them up until we moved. Yeck!

Nature (pretty much just rocks)

I seem to find a lot of rocks in my purse.

I JUST pulled rocks out of my purse this morning! My daughter loves rocks.

Rocks… darn kids love to pick up random rocks.

Rocks, always rocks. Not even cool rocks, just other people’s gravel. I had to start telling my kids it was stealing because the neighbors had to pay for those rocks. 

Wood chips.

Bodily Fluids

A used pee diaper. Considering it had been awhile since I changed a diaper in public, and it was a size 4 (my son has been in 5’s for quite awhile), I can’t tell you how long it had been there. Thanks, hubby. The awesome part here is that husband took the diaper and wipes into the bathroom, changed the diaper, but rather than throwing the diaper in the garbage, he brought it back OUT of the bathroom then put it in my purse.

Underwear – used and clean.

A pair of my son’s underpants rolled tight and stuck in a compartment (left over from when I needed to carry a spare).

My daughter put a pair of poopy underwear in my purse. She was potty training, and I think she didn’t want to get in trouble so she figured my purse would be her safest bet.

My daughter once filled a Kleenex with brown snot and stuffed it back in my purse.

Um… what??


Lice comb (a clean one!).

Asphalt – a piece of the road.

My 14 year old’s baby canine teeth—two weeks after his oral surgery. We all forgot about them since the Tooth Fairy doesn’t visit us anymore.

My sons nut cup for baseball (after use…really!)

I’m a teacher and one year we were all crowded in the gym for an assembly. A student pulled a tooth during the assembly, and we were so scrunched up that it would have been next to impossible to get out. I did what any good teacher would do and put the tooth in my pocket for “safe keeping”. Guess what I found in said pocket that night?

Nut cups. Constantly!!!

I found my daughters toothbrush that has been missing for a week in my travel mug.

Muddy socks.

I currently have an envelope with a lock of my daughter’s hair from her first haircut that I forgot to take out. 

Perhaps we should go home tonight and give our Mom Purse a little TLC.  Maybe a clean out or a scrub down – it definitely deserves it!

So what’s the strangest thing you’ve found in your purse?



Caroline is an Arizona native who moved to Iowa in 2007 ‘for love.’ She and her husband live in Coralville with their 8-year-old daughter. Caroline works full-time at the University of Iowa and recently earned her MA in Higher Education Administration. Caroline is a self-taught sewer, fabric hoarder, Starbucks lover, wannabe graphic designer, and avid reader. Her greatest aspirations are to raise a kind, strong, and fearless girl and have a clean house.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.