Tackling my fear of changing diapers

I have plenty of nieces, nephews, and cousins. I’ve been around them all from the very beginning. When they need something from me, I try my best to be there or to help and support. But that is only in most cases because one thing I’ve never done for them is change a diaper.

In fact one thing I’ve never done in my entire life is…. change a diaper.

All the dads I’ve spoken with have said:

  • ”It’s the easiest thing ever.”
  • ”It takes a minute or two.”
  • ”You get used to the smell.”
  • ”Your baby’s own poop doesn’t smell as bad.”

When I see pictures like this, I don’t believe them.

I have built this weird sense of fear of changing diapers. I’ve smelled and seen many of blow outs where it’s just oozing down the side. I’m really hoping my daughter loves me enough not to do that but who am I kidding!

The past couple months I have been trying to negotiate how to get out of changing diapers but have failed every single time. One dad recently told me to choose changing diapers over any other chore. “It’s the easiest. Changing diapers is a million times better than putting your child to bed. ALWAYS CHOOSE DIAPERS.” He seemed so emphatic.

So the countdown is on. I’m going to eventually have to get over my fear and learn to deal with the smell. If I’m really really really really really really really really really really lucky, she will come out potty trained at birth like I was.

Fatherhood? It’s a Mess.

When given the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on what it means to me to be a father I found myself coming back a television show I frequented in my own youth: the Nickelodeon show Double Dare. If you’re at all familiar with this show then you will hopefully agree with me in deeming it an appropriate metaphor for the daily tasks that await you as a Dad.

You will be put on the spot and asked a lot of questions. A LOT of questions. You will have some sort of physical challenge that will most likely involve you being on all fours interpreting some sort of barnyard animal. This could either be a horsey, bucking bronco, or in my case….a cow. (It is also my hope that this unfair classification has no bearing on my physical appearance and/ or stamina of this animal. In fact I have yet to determine as to why my children found it appropriate to assign the cow as my spirit animal in the first place.) And most importantly, just as the final challenge of Double Dare undoubtedly involved the contestants going through a barrage of challenges all the while becoming more and more…messy.

Yes, fatherhood is a mess.

A mess in every sense of the word. Physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, and everything in between. It’s that mess of toothpaste that the kids seem to leave behind after they “brush their teeth.”  You know the kind. The kind that has had some time to quickly harden to point of a fossil stuck in the sink.  Now you are charged with the task of digging into your bag of paleontology tools and find the right chisel for the job. Wondering did any toothpaste actually make it on the brush? It’s the mess of you genuinely trying to be as gentle as possible when brushing your screaming daughter’s hair. Certain that she is mentally setting you on fire with each yank, and pull of the brush. All the while screaming “This isn’t how Mommy does it!!!”

It’s the mess of having it look like a Toys R Us just threw up what was left of their Barbie inventory in your pew at church. Not to mention the antsy, disinterested 2 year old is not very good at keeping those slippery Cheerios in her hand, and 87% of those Cheerios are now littering the floor in a manner that will ensure that you are only able to find 6% of them.

Yes, it is a mess. But it is also a beautiful, amazingly awesome mess that I would not want to change one tiny bit of it. It’s my mess, and I love it. -( At this point I should remind you that in Double Dare the contestants are not facing these challenges alone, no they are side by side slipping through the slime with their teammate. So am I.  My wife Shannon, being the amazing, patient soul that she is usually finds herself not only playing the part of the game show contestant, but also the director, and more often than not the janitor that has to clean up the stage after the show has been filmed.) -It’s me being there for my kids every day in every way that I can. It’s me being their bodyguard, their psychiatrist, their coach, their personal chef, their back-up singer/ dancer, their proofreader, their audience, their Uber driver, their protector, their friend, their hero.

I am here to be all those things. (Let me clarify by saying I try to be all those things to my children, sometimes I fail miserably) Trust me, there are days when we most certainly are flipping each other off behind closed doors, but again it’s a mess. One that I find myself enjoying more and more each day the older my children become.

So for those of you just starting out in your journey of Fatherhood, or those seasoned veterans that are further along yet. Please allow me to offer my own few anecdotes or pearls of wisdom-ish that I hope helps you along in your journey.

1. Even if you can’t carry a tune you need to have a “go-to” song to sing to your child at bedtime. Any song from any genre is acceptable. (Within reason) In the severe case that you’re singing may cause a screaming baby to become more agitated humming is acceptable as well. (Later revealed to me in my adult years my own Father chose Kenny Roger’s, The Gambler, simply for the fact that this was the only song he knew all the words to.)

2. Fathers of daughters, you will have to (and this is non-negotiable) allow your daughter to paint your toe-nails at some point. Come one. It’s just your toe nails. You hide them in your socks every day. And no matter what color scheme is chosen, and how it may appear as though it was applied during an earthquake, the only acceptable reaction is, “Oh, I love them!! So pretty! ”

And 3. There is no wrong time or place for a dance party. Sorry Big Lots. Maybe next time don’t play so much Earth, Wind and Fire and we won’t have to stop traffic on aisle 6.

Fatherhood is a mess. It’s a M. Marvelous E. Exciting S. Sometimes S. Slimy , Mess. Speaking of which. If you’ll excuse me I need to find my helmet and elbow pads because the 2 year old that hasn’t pooped in a week is working up a sweat, hiding in her room denying entry to all. Which usually means we have lift off!

It’s a girl.. Emery Maren….

It’s a girl!

But let’s rewind this back to a week ago. After lots of discussion, my girlfriend and I opted to do the blood work which allowed us to find out the gender of our baby. We were told it’d be 5-7 days until results would be ready.  That was very early last week.

By Friday of that week, I remember thinking that would be the day. I messaged my girlfriend to see if she heard anything. No word from the office. The anxiousness was starting to overwhelm me. For instance,  I posted on my personal Instagram a picture of a blue and pink videogame controller as I was curious to see which hypothetical controller my child would be using.

Monday comes and I messaged my girlfriend to ask if there was any word from the doctor. Nothing. I googled the average length it took for the results to come back and saw it was 3-5 days. Sigh…. of course this would take a long time. Patience is not a virtue of mine.

The Big Day

Monday lunch hits and we planned to meet up at my house to eat. When she arrived, she handed me an envelope that a co-worker wanted to give to me. I get really awkward opening gifts and reading cards in front of people; I prefer to do it alone so I set it aside. Then I told her what I saw on Google and she told me perhaps the doctor meant 5-7 business days which meant the end of the week.

We just sat there and played on our phones and chatted about the day. A few minutes later, I decide to go ahead and read what was in the envelope because I didn’t want her to go back to work and have her co-worker curious to why I wouldn’t read it.

I do not like cards. I know; it’s weird. So I opened the card up and kind of glanced at the front and read the front. Within seconds, I already had forgotten what it said. Inside the first two words said, “Hi Dad….“. Nothing was registering in my head at the moment. I sort of surveyed part of the written note and only remember seeing the words “I’m”, “healthy” and “love…”. Still I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. There was a little slip of paper inside the card taped up. I pulled it out, ripped the tape off and opened it up.

I see a pink videogame controller.


I look back at the card


While sitting there, I turned to my girlfriend and saw tears in her eyes and she said, “It’s a girl and she’s perfectly healthy.”

Literally no less than a second goes by and tears were just pouring down my face. I tried everything I could to stop it but nothing worked. It was like someone hit a fire hydrant with their car and it burst open.

I gave her a hug and could just feel the flow of tears running down my face. It was hard to describe. It was tears of joy; tears of relief; tears of happiness. Once I was able to compose myself and blame it on allergies, we just sat there in silence. I really can’t recall the last time I’ve cried….. like really had a good cry of complete happiness. It was the first time I cried around my girlfriend so I didn’t know what to do but blame it on the weather and pollen. She wasn’t buying my B.S.

It’s a girl and she’s perfectly healthy.

For those that know me, it’s no secret I’m incredibly close with two girls in my family who are both eight now. From about the time they were 3 years old until now, we’ve been a big trio road tripping, dining around the city, rooting on the Shockers, going to zoos, museums, play areas, you name it.

For most of my life, I always said that I wanted to have a boy. But after the relationship I’ve built with those girls, I think all that changed. From the moment I found out I was going to be a father, deep down I did want a girl.

…..and it came true. The girls were incredibly happy too that our wolfpack was growing.

The Future Is Bright

After my girlfriend left, I sat there and the news of the day sunk in. I was going to have a little princess of my own. I can’t lie and will own up to it, I probably cried or had my eyes water up probably four more times that day. Even writing this and reliving that day, I could feel my cheeks start to quiver.

All the tears shed led me to one sad truth. That protective and overly sensitive father is going to be me.  Tears will be shed when she says her first words especially if its “Wichita State Shockers”. I’ll probably cry when she learns how to walk. Watching her walk into school on her first day will be a tearjerker. The first time we are playing cornhole and she sinks it in the hole will be a proud moment. I’ll definitely cry the first time she calls me dad and tells me she loves me. (Shit!!!! I’m starting to tear up again). I might just end up being like Phil Dunphy on the TV show Modern Family.

I’m doomed. The funny thing is, I’m not even a sensitive guy or one to show that side of me really ever. Emotions are something I very much try my best to keep internal but this girl seems to be pulling at my heartstrings with ease and we’ve never even formally met.


So please welcome Emery Maren.

The name had been chosen weeks in advance. While we discussed names, I wasn’t deadset on it but would have loved to have an E name to match mine. My girlfriend originally wanted Maren but after some debate, we went with Emery Maren.

If it was a boy, who knows what would have happened. I suggested the name Equinox but that was quickly thrown out the door.

So now that the cat’s out of the bag. I’m having a baby girl and still can’t believe it. All I know is Beyonce was right about one thing she sang.

Who runs the world? Girls.”

Emery will run mine and I’m completely OK with that.

My Encouragement

I first became a dad at age 30, but I want to back it up to when I first wanted to be a dad at 26. My wife and I had been married for 4 years and were ready to settle down and finally start a family. It seemed so easy, we had years of practice of course.  As it turned out for us it wasn’t easy. We tried constantly for 3 years and nothing. We went to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t one of us, we ate better, did acupuncture, watched our friends and loved ones have kids of their own just hoping it would be us next.  We got the irritating “when are we going to be grandparents?” constantly from our own parents.   NOTHING!  All I wanted to do was be a dad!  Then finally 3 years later over Labor Day weekend 2008 we were just over it and went out and bought a kegerator that Sunday and came home to sit on the back porch to christen it, and my wife started to get a severe sinus infection which was very odd for her. She decided on a whim to just do a pregnancy test the next day and BAM Prego!

The sigh of relief was over, and the excitement and anxiety began.  Excitement because I had hoped for this for so long, and of course anxiety of what did I just do. Thru the next few months everything was going great, we found out the sex, were able to wrap up that pic and give it to our parents for Christmas.  I turned 30 in February 2009, and we were checking things off our list for our May baby. May came and on May 28th our son Tommy came into the world.

As soon as he came into the world my heart melted.  I was so in love, terrified, happy, but in love.  The next two years were a whirlwind of new and different things.  In our mind’s things could not get more perfect.  We evolved from all night partying to sleeping from 10 pm -6 am every morning, he was just that good of a baby.

Two years later here came our second one, Sawyer.  Sawyer was not planned at all, and until this day I thank two friends for getting married because of them we were to be parents yet again.  In a way we found it weird, it took us so long to get our first and then WHAM here comes the second.  Sawyer arrived May 5th, 2011, and everything he did was the opposite of Tommy. Tommy waited until the last minute and although only a 3-hour delivery process, Sawyer decided he needed to make his exit on his due date May 5th and then also decided he wasn’t going to even let us get to the hospital.  I delivered my second son at home well mostly.  He came in 15 minute and was head out when the firefighters got to our home.  They, of course, practice for these things but it was a first for all of them.  Tommy’s godmother was there to hold my wife’s hand while I was holding my kid and the firefighters were doing their job.  Sawyer was a handful, I remember countless nights rocking, feeding, doing everything we could to get him to stop crying.  After 6 months he settled into his routine but to this day he does everything his way.

Turning into a dad was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me, but it was also a game changer. Going from doing what I want when I want was over.  When our group of friends called during the week or weekend pre-kid we went out, had fun, did IHOP at 3 am, did it all again the next day.  That isn’t to say it all stopped once we had kids eventually, we still got out, had adult time, returned home.  Thru the years though, our friends without kids slowly stopped calling or texting as much and at first was hard but I look back and think now how glad I was too be at home for that first crawl, words, and walking.   We eventually started hanging out with new friends who were new parents and it has become a way of life.

I am the dad who works hard to play hard with his kids. I did the dirty work, if it required me spending 3 hours up at night to let my wife sleep I did it.  I took them to the park when she was getting her Masters at WSU so she could study, I changed dirty diapers, helped clean the house, fed, bathed, and was in my opinion part of the job, no special pat on the back required, I signed up for it and I am here to do it.

Almost ten years later I still do everything I can with my two sons.  It is crazy to see them go from diapers to riding four-wheelers around the property, swimming, excelling at sports and school, and maturing in their own ways.  I often think that ten years went by fast, my oldest will graduate in 9 years and my youngest in 11.  Then what?  I am so used to being there for them what will life be like post kids?  That’s how fast it really does go!

I am now 39 and turn 40 here in a few weeks.  My encouragement for new dads or soon to be dads is this. Don’t spend an extra minute on things that don’t matter. Be there for your kids. When they ask you to go on bike rides, throw the ball, fish, help mow, wrestle, or read a book do it. I know you are tired, trust me I get it but if you don’t do those things you will regret it later. Be the dad that is silly, kind, strict, and loving and there for them.

I was fortunate enough to be raised by a great dad so from the beginning I thought I knew how to do this, but I still look to him for advice and encouragement. One thing that I took away from my own dad is something so simple, every night before bed I kiss my boys on the cheek and hug them.  My dad did this with me from the time I was little until I was in high school, and until this day we hug one another when we see each other.  Do those little things in your own way and you will be a successful father.