Thursday, July 17, 2014

In Praise of Dirty Diapers

Katie on her change table.
If you had a choice to delegate all diaper changes (especially poopy ones) to a nanny, would you? At one time, I might have answered a resounding YES, but our first child taught me something.

See that picture at the top? That is our daughter on her changing table, about to get a clean diaper. That changing table was one of her favourite places in the world. Yes, there was a mobile hanging over it (that's what she's giggling at), but I think she also enjoyed that place because of the focused attention she got.

It wasn't always like that.

Triple-tasking: baby, computer games, dog. Not necessarily in that order.
Not that children need (or benefit from) constant undivided attention. But the moments when we are caring for them directly are precious.

You can probably tell by the number of pictures I took that I fell more deeply in love with Stephen as I watched him loving our children. Just think of what we all would have missed out on if he'd been a "hands off" parent, or if I'd micro-managed his time with our babies?

Steve giving newborn Katie one of her first baths. She was not happy.
And Steve, as you can tell, was a little worse for wear.
I made a conscious effort, from Day One, to step back and let Stephen learn his own way of being with our babies. I shared some information I'd learned because, honestly, I wasn't born knowing how to comfort a distressed infant, so why should he spontaneously know?

There were times when I went into our bedroom and put a pillow over my head while Stephen paced the floor, jiggling or rocking a screaming child. And there were times when Stephen discovered tricks that worked that I hadn't tried.

The importance of these acts of caring -- changing diapers, bathing, soothing -- was really brought home during the period when I was providing home daycare. I sensed that I wasn't bonding with the little girl I babysat. It certainly wasn't her fault; she was cherubic and good-natured as could be.

One day she had a poopy diaper and I grimly took her to the change table.

As I lay her down, I thought: why is this so much harder than changing my own babies? I decided to turn her diaper change into a playtime, as it often was with my children.

I played peek-a-boo. I blew raspberries on her tummy. I kissed the soles of her pudgy feet.

And you know what? It made a difference. My actions led my heart to the right place.

I never grew to like changing dirty diapers, but my attitude towards that mundane act of caring made a huge difference -- especially as I ended up having four children, which adds up to a shitload (pun intended) of diapers.


  1. I have two kids and I have NEVER thought about diaper changes this way. It's so true!! I'll never see it the same way again. And you are making me wish I had diaper-changing photos, too. These are insanely sweet.

    1. It's not too late to start taking pictures! Let me know if the change of perspective makes a difference for you.

  2. It is so adorable. Stephen is SO cute in that one where they are both so done by bath time. Such a good idea.

    1. I have never tired of watching Stephen with our kids. Never.


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