as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
Nobody, that is, except me.
I’ve always considered it a privilege to change my children’s diapers.
Not so much.
In fact, not at all.
Change is inevitable, and this is especially true when it comes to dirty diapers, but since nature has effectively kept men in general, and me in particular, out of the equation when it comes to baby-raising duties that bond the parent with the child--such as childbirth and breastfeeding--I had to take my bonding moments where I could find them, and I’m not talking about in the pages of an Ian Fleming novel.
Thinking about it, maybe that’s why children are closer to their mothers than their fathers. That reminds me of something I heard happens in prison. In prison, prisoners are invited every Mother’s Day to send their beloved mothers cards that the penal institutions supply to them for free, and every year the prisons run out of cards and stamps. On Father’s Day, however, the prisoners have the same opportunity, but those very same penitentiaries end up with more Father’s Day cards leftover than they know what to do with. I don’t know if this is true, but it sounds true, and that’s good enough for me.
Now, briefly, this isn’t a dissertation on male/female abilities, it’s a discussion about poopy diapers, so let’s leave social politics out of it. Although, now that I think about it, politics and the contents of a poopy diaper seem to go hand in hand, as you no doubt noticed in last month’s election. When you think about it, politicians are like diapers. They should also be changed quite frequently, and for the same reason.
I always got deep satisfaction changing my youngest daughter’s diapers because it was one thing my baby couldn’t do for herself. When she was hungry as an infant, if my wife put a breast to her mouth, instinct would take over and she would suckle. What could I do? Take her on a walk? Maybe, but that would take some actual physical effort on my part, such as walking.
“Come on,” I would playfully tell her. “Let’s pick ‘em up and put ‘em down.”
But she was happy just to lay there.
Needless to say, I was in love.
Maybe she couldn’t walk, but, really, where does an infant need to go?
Poopy diapers, besides being unsanitary, must be uncomfortable. Sadly, babies have to sit in their own waste until someone notices, and I always considered it MY job to notice. Sometimes I noticed too well, and changed diapers that were perfectly clean.
“Do you KNOW how expensive diapers are?” my lovely wife would chastise.
I gladly took the chastisement. Better that a hundred clean diapers be thrown away, than one dirty diaper remain attached to my daughter’s bottom one second longer than is necessary, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin in a way he probably never expected. (Voltaire and Sir William Blackstone are also credited with saying a version of this, but I don’t trust a man with only one name. As for Blackstone, isn’t he a magician? What does a magician know about changing diapers?)
My father, on the other hand, never changed a diaper in his life. It was a different time, so I’ve been told.
I suppose that’s true.
But, remembering how my little girl would smile and talk to me as I was changing her diaper, I can’t help but feel that my father missed out on one of life’s greatest joys.
Greater than chocolate, even.
“Does baby need her widdle diaper changed?” I would baby-talk.
“Goo-goo, ga-ga,” she would answer, which was her way of saying, “Don’t talk to me like I’m an idiot.” Sometimes, she would lift her tiny hands and try to snatch the eyeglasses off my face.
In time, I became a diaper-changing expert, offering unsolicited advice to anyone polite enough to listen.
“When it comes to girls, be sure to wipe AWAY from the main event.”
“Make sure that diaper’s not too tight.”
“These are not the droids you’re looking for. Move along.”
I also advised new parents to wash their hands BEFORE they changed their baby’s diapers, not just after. “You don’t know WHAT you’ve touched,” I would tell them like an employee of the CDC, “and you don’t WANT to know.” Another bit of advice was to be sure to wipe down the baby changing stations in public restrooms. I’m not saying that the people who use it before you are filthy animals, but they probably are.
I remember my father once watching me change an especially messy diaper.
“You know,” he sniffed, “I never changed ANY of my children’s diapers.”
He was proud of that personal achievement.
“I know, pop,” I said. “I know.”
Another thing I change frequently? My content at RaisingMyFather.BlogSpot.com, JimDuchene.BlogSpot.com, or @JimDuchene.