Last year, we brought home the most generous newborn from the hospital. Along with her kissable baby cheeks she offered the added bonus of spit up all over my favorite shirt. With her tiny button nose she bequeathed mucus of every size and color, free of charge. And of course, thrown in with her adorable baby bottom, she provided a (seemingly) lifetime supply of full diapers. The lesson? You can have your cake and eat it, but you need to do the dishes, too…or I guess, you can snuggle your baby, but you need to wipe its bum, too.
Bodily fluids have always been a chink in my dudehood (there are many). I’m a guy, so I sometimes feign toughness and try not to faint when I give blood, but my wife will tell you, if there’s an unexpected gross-out scene in a movie, I’ll squeal and hide my face. So it should be no surprise that I begrudgingly became the official director of diaper changing in the Robinson household. My wife handles food on the way in, of course, but somehow I, the queasy one, came to handle food on the way out.
There have been quite a few missteps along this diaper hero’s journey. More than once I have changed the baby on our bed, only to leave the duvet scarred by the soils of war. I’ve brazenly left a diaper off long enough for her to dampen the entire kingdom of the changing table. I’ve been tested by more than one blow-out, fearsome monsters that strike only after we’ve settled in at our favorite restaurant.
At first I was a shrinking violet; dabbing with dozens of wipes to ensure there were at least three layers to protect my delicate fingertips. Over the past months, I’ve steadied my hand, and steeled my gut. I wipe with confidence. I change a standard-issue wet diaper in 20 seconds flat (24 if she’s crawling across the carpet).
There’s an idea in Buddhism that the lotus flower symbolizes enlightenment because it springs up from the murky filth of river bottoms (picture the Ganges, not a shining mountain stream) to issue forth its beauty. I am far from enlightenment, but changing diapers has provided me with some truly crystallized moments of beauty. Her wise little grin, her babbling mantras, and even her thoughtful consideration of her own toes.
Life can be so frenzied that I have learned to jump at the opportunity, however small, to spend time with my little girl. I change diapers out of necessity, but also so that I can tickle her, sing to her, and of course, lavish kisses on her wiggly feet. There’s another idea in Buddhism that repetition is key to understanding, and I think I’ve gained some understanding of the diaper through my many meditations on the subject. I’ve learned the heart of changing a diaper is not the poo or the pee; it’s the care.
I wipe because I love.—John Robinson