2. Nappy Changing is Fun
Start the stopwatch! New dad Luke Edwards is happiest when he’s elbow-deep in dirty nappies and trying to beat his fastest baby changing time.
My dad has never changed a nappy in his life, yet I’m one of four children. Skip forward a generation and I’m the one who changed my daughter’s first-ever nappy – and have dealt with most messes since. While this has a lot to do with a modern balance of responsibility – and I could pretend that was all it was – the truth is, nappy changing is fun.
Alright, a nappy filled (read: overflowing) with a poonami that requires three hands to change, and another six to clear up the mess, isn’t the most appealing pastime. But for my daughter and I it’s become a time of bonding, a magical place, our own little bubble. Now, at two months old, when she cries and all my other tricks to calm her have been exhausted, I turn to the nappy mat as a place to relax her. It almost always works.
That nappy mat has become so sacred a spot that at even the slightest glimmer of an incoming cry I snatch her up instantly, for fear of besmirching the happy place that is nappy-changing land.
Nappy changing is a time when we have eye contact – I talk and attempt to sing while she tries to join in with cute efforts to use her voice. There’s often a gurgled giggle and a smile in there, too. I never expected the small payment of a smile to be enough for me to allow someone to let loose their bowels on my hands. Yet, for that bonding moment, no price is too high.
But it’s not all about the bond. The sport of it is one tailor-made for dads.
I don’t like to differentiate between the sexes, but us men can be pretty simple creatures at times. That could be why I find myself so easily focused on the task of nappy changing. It’s almost become a game. Each time I try to complete the change quicker and more efficiently than the last.
I haven’t quite got to the point of using a stopwatch, but it’s bound to come. Admittedly, it’s a lacklustre competition against myself. There isn’t even a prize to work towards. And the game involves handling human mess. Yet it’s a pleasure. Like I said, we can be simple sorts sometimes.
Before I paint too rosy a picture, there are times when a few items of clothing have had to be binned alongside the wet wipes and dirty nappies, and sometimes it’s hard to believe such an overpowering stench can come from such a small being.
But the point I’m trying to make here is that finding joy in the simplest of tasks is all part of the magic of parenthood. Nappy changing has evolved from a routine manual task into a time of growth, where I genuinely believe I might hear my daughter’s first word. Or at least I can still enjoy the feeling that she’s attempting to interact. Perhaps there is a prize after all.
So while mums take care of the feeding end of baby time, enjoying eye contact and bonding there, us dads get the other end. Sure, it might not be as pleasant but there’s something special to be found among all that mess.
The realisation that the highest joys can be found in the lowest places. It seems like a philosophical gem only granted to mystics who reach enlightenment. Us dads find it at the business end of a messy baby.