By the time my twins were two, I had easily changed over 10,000 diapers. Diapers so tiny they looked like they belonged to a doll and larger versions with cartoon characters and stretchy sides. With each change in diaper size came a new phase. Just when I felt competent in this daily ritual, a newly mobile infant’s wiggles would force me to be more present. And then there was that period of time when play was far more interesting than a clean diaper, and I was reminded to slow down and be patient. Or the period when a testing toddler wanted to do it themselves which reminded me to laugh, because really sometimes there is nothing left to do. And while I do think of myself as a diaper duty master now, the mechanics of changing a diaper is the least of what I learned. Change is a constant in motherhood, and a new season is always right around the corner.
When my kids began to show interest in potty training, one would assume that I was thrilled about outsourcing this task. But changing their diapers is special to me. You see, my twins were born 12 weeks early and were in the NICU for several months. They lived inside of an isolette hooked up to machines and monitors. They were too small to wear clothes and the specially designed preemie diapers hung off their tiny hips. Even though I spent hours sitting by their beds every day, I wasn’t their primary caregiver. At night, I had to leave them at the hospital and go home. Daily, I had to ask the nursing staff for health updates. Just holding my babies was a monumental task which required the help of one, sometimes two nurses. It was really hard to feel like a mom when I wasn’t the one caring for them all the time.
One of the first ways the hospital empowered parents to take part in their preemies’ care was by changing diapers. It was something that I could do without assistance from the staff. In those brief moments, I felt like a normal parent. I could momentarily forget about the wires and tubes, the monitors and machines, and just enjoy this nurturing moment with my child. I looked so forward to diaper duty every 4 hours and would adjust my schedule to change as many diapers as I could. And as my children grew, diapering was still a sacred time. As the mother of multiples, I struggled with spending one-on-one time with them. So even though it is only a few minutes, I get to look in their eyes and connect during this most basic of mothering jobs.
But sometimes, you just have to know when to let go. When your toddler decides they want to use the potty, there is little you can do to stop it. As much as I love that time with them, it is exciting to see them reach a new milestone. Moving out of diapers signals such a shift away from babyhood, and feeling a little nostalgic is understandable. But I have found that the best way to deal with change and potty training is to accept it wholeheartedly. Put those undies on, and never look back. And while I highly doubt I will ever view taking my children to the bathroom with the same fondness I feel for changing diapers, I suppose there is always a chance. Motherhood is constantly embracing something new.