Fatherhood Adventures

For me, a diaper change at home is part of the daily routine. However, when I am forced to take my game on the road, things can get a little stressful.

This is a subject fresh on my mind after a busy weekend of activities last weekend. Long story made short, we dragged little Beckett all over the shore last weekend, from the Salisbury mall on Friday to a birthday party at a bowling alley in Pocomoke on Saturday and then out to eat for brunch for his grandmom’s birthday at The Globe on Sunday. Mix in a doctor’s visit, lots of eating out and a few other stops along the way, and it was a busy weekend for him and us. Of course, there were a few diaper changes along the way.

With any trip out of the house, even if it’s just for a quick bite to eat, planning is critical. For us, the big thing seems to be making sure there are plenty of toys for entertainment, food and drink for pacification and diapers and wipes to answer nature’s call. We feel it’s always better to over pack than to miss something later on and regret it. That’s why our diaper bag is always packed full.

No matter how prepared you may be, there’s something about a diaper change in a public bathroom that makes me uncomfortable. Months ago, I figured it was just a “newbie” parenting thing that I would get accustomed to over time. Ten months later, it’s safe to say it’s still a stressful situation for me.

Last weekend, just before my wife was to walk into heaven on earth for her, the Gymboree store at the Salisbury mall, Beckett let it be known there was some business that needed my attention. That was fine by me. I will take any excuse to avoid browsing through a store, even if it’s a public diaper change.

Whenever a situation like this presents itself away from home base, I immediately wonder if there is a diaper changing station in the men’s room. Some places offer it in both, but many only offer them in the ladies room. That’s quite sexist, if you ask me.

In a place like the mall, I figured I was safe. Surely, a busy gathering place like a mall would offer both. In this case, I stumbled upon something called a “family restroom,” a new term for me. I jumped on the occasion to check it out, get educated and was impressed with the accommodations. It was spacious, had a nice scent in the air and even had an armchair, presumably for nursing mothers, leading me to the conclusion I should probably not be using it. I wondered and hoped there was not a mother with a crying baby standing outside the door. Fortunately, that situation never presented itself.

Regardless of whether it was prudent for me to be in this “family restroom”, I must admit it was a nice experience, even if I was engulfed in a wrestling match with my son to keep him from rolling over to his stomach throughout the entire process. In this private room, there were no odd looks, no concerns over showing off my son’s goods to strangers and no bizarre noises from nearby stalls providing a distraction. There was no need to rush and, like most things, everything is better, and cleaner, when not done in haste.

A few unpleasant situations in the past led to the realization that this is the ideal way to pull off the road diaper change. Taking care of this task in a men’s public restroom can be a disturbing thing. It’s no secret most men are pigs, and there’s no better example than a public restroom. It’s just a disgusting place to be. The sights, sounds and odors combine to overwhelm the senses, and it’s no place for a baby. I feel guilty even having to subject my young son to it.

While out and about shortly after my wife’s back surgery, Beckett made us particularly proud as well as uncomfortable, requiring an immediate diaper change. As luck would have it, the bathroom was full. I waited a bit to let it clear (air) out, but the deed at hand needed to be taken care of immediately.

In this particular bathroom, the changing station was in the common area. I prefer it when it’s located in the handicapped stall because there’s more room to operate and a little bit of privacy.

Instead, there I was standing amidst a group of men in a public restroom with my stinky son in one hand and a diaper bag in the other. It was not the ideal setting. While I was uncomfortable taking care of business, my son was taking in the surroundings and seemingly enjoying himself, as evidenced by that familiar and consistent high-pitched babble.

My son turned 10 months old last week, and I have come to the conclusion I will never be comfortable with the road diaper change. Maybe it’s just a guy thing because it does not seem to get my wife worked up as much as it does me. I am capable of getting the job done, but it does come with an elevated blood pressure, and that’s never a good thing.

The good news, and the only thing that really matters, is Beckett does not seem to care in the least bit. He does his normal routine no matter if his diaper is being changed in the comfortable confines of our house, on a car seat, in a busy restroom, a friend’s living room or on a Koala station. He still tries to roll over as soon as the dirty diaper is off, likes to pull out my arm hair while giggling and works the bicycle kicks. Kids are so flexible and just roll with the flow. It’s us adults who have the issues with change and anything out of our comfort zone. He could care less and that’s a wonderful thing.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.