In the last 24 hours, I’ve had to wipe yogurt out of my son’s belly button and yank a tampon out of his mouth (don’t worry, folks, it was wrapped). So, yeah, I don’t have my mom act together. My fellow moms assure me the concept of “having it together” is more of a Georges Seurat/pointillism type situation, anyway. From a distance, it may seem a mom is on top of everything. However, when you get closer, things can look a bit different. That gives me solace, and I try take little victories where I can get them.
Recently, one of those victories was the realization that we hadn’t dealt with diaper rash until our son was well into toddlerhood. I imagine some kids are just more prone to irritation than others, but I like to give credit to cloth diapering. We started cloth diapering because it was cost effective, but there have been unexpected benefits, like how it keeps diaper rash at bay. In moments like that, I have a brief flash of smugness, after which I do something gross like wipe a baby booger with my shirt. I’m beginning to get whiplash from the sharp U-turns back to reality.
Cloth diapering has been full of surprises (no pun intended!). Here are some of the other discoveries that we didn’t anticipate:
1. We never run out of diapers, and it has nothing to do with me being organized. Full disclosure: I have run out of flour in the middle of making a recipe—more than once. There are no last minute jogs to the store for diapers, however. I have a relatively regular wash schedule and it’s easy to see when we are running low.
2. We don’t deal with blow-outs. For vacations, we use disposables, so I can say with confidence our kid is fully capable of creating a blow-out. It’s never been an issue at home, though, which has saved time and energy by avoiding half-asleep wardrobe changes and subsequent laundry.
3. We can have a spontaneous water fight in the backyard. Yesterday he decided the hose watering our plants was the most interesting toy in the backyard. Splashing, giggling, and running ensued. We were able to play as long as we wanted without fear of a disposable diaper expanding to limits not yet known to man.
4. He understands poop goes in the potty. Now, I can’t take it any further than that—I am not so naïve to assume that potty training will be a breeze. Hopefully, though, it’s a good first step.
Sometimes other parents give us more credit than we deserve for cloth diapering. My husband and I don’t work hard at this. If there’s an easy way, that’s the approach we use. We use all-in-one cloth diapers, which is as close to a disposable style as you can find—no pins, inserts, or covers. I bought our diapers used, so they were already prepped (and we saved money). During the time our son was exclusively breastfed, the diapers went straight in the wash, regardless of their contents. Everything else, like our wash routine, became muscle memory.
I imagine by the time I finally get a hang of this toddler thing, the kid will have moved on to the next stage. In the meantime, I take comfort in the brief moments where everything seems to work—like cloth diapering—and the knowledge that he’s too young to remember the parts that don’t.