(Bloggers note: It is Mother’s Day today. On a completely related note, I am writing a blog today for Dallas Moms Blog. On another completely related note, my wife co-leads this blog. You can make the connection as to why I am doing this but to be sure, it included verbal threats and a little guilt-tripping until I agreed to contribute. )
“I used to change your diapers” is a phrase you have probably heard from the shaky voice of an elderly person at a family reunion. First things first, whenever I used to hear someone utter this odd phrase, it made me wonder how many different people changed my diaper over the course of my childhood. 10? 15? 20? Why are so many people remembering when they used to change my diaper? Was there a yard sign in front of our house offering free opportunities to change my diapers? Was I raised in a tribal atmosphere where I was passed around and whoever had me at the moment had to change my diaper? I am fairly certain now after hearing that phrase so often that a full 1/3 of all Americans changed my diaper at some point from 1980-1982. But I digress.
“I used to change your diaper” is a phrase that I used to think was simply inserted in a conversation to establish age and the passage of time. Not unlike “I remember you when you were this tall,” this phrase is used to put you in your chronological place. However, as a father now, I have a new appreciation for this phrase. While my wife handles the bulk of diaper changing duties, I still change my fair share (while I am not certain my wife would agree with this, I believe with the right high-powered attorney and some verbal gymnastics, I could get this agreed to in a court of law). Through my experience, I have come to realize the weight of this phrase.
Diaper changing is not for the faint of heart. I have seen some diapers that have threatened to give me PTSD. They haunt my dreams. You know what I am talking about. Diaperggedon. (Trademark is pending on this mash up of diaper and Armageddon). They aren’t nice and tidy with a couple of wipes. They creep up the back and slide out the side. They ruin clothes and threaten to ruin lives (namely mine.)
These apocalyptic blow outs have given new meaning to the phrase, “I used to change your diapers.” I now know this phrase means, “I have seen you at your worst.” More appropriately for a parent, “I have seen you at your worst….and I am still here….and I still love you.” This is a great shift in my understanding of this all too common phrase. For all of those meltdowns when she is two and all of those tears when she is ten and the mood swings when she is a teenager, I can utter to myself “I used to change your diapers.” I have seen the mess you can make and I am not leaving. I have seen your worst and I still love you. Cherish changing those diapers.