It’s all come down to this moment: you at one end of the hall, your opponents at the other. It is the classic gunfighter standoff, neither side giving an inch, your eyes locked to theirs. You must stand your ground because they can sense fear, smell it on you, even above the rising ripeness wafting through the air. Your heart begins to race as they shuffle towards you, zombie-like, arms outstretched, the innocence in their eyes belying the horrible reality of what needs to be done.
Time to step up, gentlemen. Those diapers ain’t gonna change themselves.
It is perhaps one of the great fears of all men, besides holding their significant other’s purse or purchasing products of a “feminine nature” on their own. As fathers, it is an inevitability that you will have to change a diaper — most likely many. It simply is not realistic – nor advisable – in this day and age for any man to take the stance of refusing to do so.
As with most dangerous and potentially nerve-shattering undertakings, success can be measured by how well one prepares for it. The devil is in the details, my friends, and if you get caught midway without, say, wipes or – heaven forbid! – diapers, the game is over…and you lose.
Now, as something of a scary movie aficionado, I have seen some pretty graphic special effects displayed on the big and small screen. But nothing could have prepared me for my first dual clean-up. Heart racing, I accepted my fate and lifted the first in line to the changing table. The scene was a nightmare, baby poop not just in the back – where one might usually expect to see such material – but the action taken had been of a particularly…explosive nature, thus rendering the front inside portion of the containment field additionally defiled. There was nothing else to do but to continue moving forward. Onward and upward, as the saying goes, right? Thankfully, I had prepared my workspace in advance with plenty of moist wipes and a fresh diaper within easy reach. It was now or never…and never was not an option.
As carefully as a bomb technician dismantling a weapon of mass destruction, I peeled away the remainder of the diaper and folded the front portion under the subject so as to shield the changing table cover from any incidental splatter. Steeling myself, I carefully wiped the surface of my son’s bum, moving the wipe around and folding it deftly so as to effectively clear away the toxic debris clinging to his skin. I used another wipe, and then another, gently making certain to eliminate any and all trace of the horrifying event. This was followed by several passes with a clean dry hand towel to ensure that all exposed areas were dry before applying a liberal amount of butt cream to help soothe any potential rawness. All wipes and the decimated diaper went immediately into an empty garbage bag, not the available diaper pail sitting only a foot or so away. Why? Well, much like the rule that applies to bathrooms on motor homes (i.e., never do THE do, only the one), one should endeavor to always take such materials so thoroughly destroyed to an outside waste receptacle ASAP. Simply put, you really do not want that stuff fermenting in the diaper pail for later tossing as you may actually risk long-term trauma to yourself.
After dealing with all of that, the application of a fresh, clean diaper is – relatively speaking – a piece of cake. I had done it. Proud of my successful efforts, I lifted my smiling son into the air and had one of those moments of clarity that lets one understand what it truly means to be alive, having come through such a frightening experience. Joyfully, with him laughing, I placed my son onto the floor…only to remember that his twin sister had been patiently awaiting her turn on the changing table, a near equally damaged diaper clinging to her precariously. In my best Marlon Brando voice I whispered…
“The horror…the horror…”
And that is the point, my friends; it does not end quickly. Be prepared for this scene to play itself out over and over again for the next several years (less for girls as they seem to catch on to the whole potty training thing faster than boys…). Don’t whine, don’t complain (OK, you can complain a little, as it IS pretty nasty at times…), and don’t hesitate to step up and take on the challenge. It is impossible to call yourself a real man if you are unwilling to do so. In days of yore, men tended to disappear whenever it came time to handle such domestic chores, especially those pertaining to the care of the children. Our fathers and our father’s fathers just didn’t do it…and I would wager it caused a bit of tension in their relationships. Today’s real men cannot get away with such attitudes. Today’s real men change poopy diapers.
As an aside, should you require further inspiration to play an active role in the diaper changing ritual: It is a proven fact that your spouse may become far more open and willing to shower her “special attention” on you when you take it upon yourself to handle duties such as housework, cooking, and, yes, changing diapers. Far more effective – and far less expensive – than diamonds and roses, gentlemen, although even I must admit that it doesn’t get you completely off the hook from providing those from time to time as well. Look it up. Or just ask your wife. I am pretty sure she will agree with me.
Sean Patrick Thompson lives in the Central Valley of Northern California and is father to boy/girl twins Keira and Liam and their older brother Devlin as well as being married to his lovely wife Amy for 8 years. He currently works in Silicon Valley as a Technical Writer/Editor and has previously written music and band review articles for The Examiner and other blog sites. Having twins has provided a unique perspective on fatherhood for him and he hopes that sharing this helps other men – both experienced and expecting – to feel more comfortable and have more fun in their roles as dads of multiples.
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