I love being a working dad. I have the pleasure of working from home and pulling double duty as Emma’s primary care giver while Mo is at work. People always ask me if it’s tough or if I’m happy doing this for our family. The short answer is that I have never been happier. The long answer is that every day has its own individual joys and challenges. One particular challenge was what we’re now referring to as “Poopgate 2017.” Let me set the stage for you:
Our family moved from Washington, D.C. to Austin, TX (yee-ha!) earlier this year. When we arrived, I started a new role that required me to be on conference calls, Skype, and Google chats all day while Mo hit the ground running in the ATX office of her firm. Emma is an easy baby and I did not doubt my own ability to take care of my daughter. Mo is one of the best moms ever but until my first day of watching Emma while Mo was at her office, I had never been solely responsible for Emma’s well being. We were able to take 3 months each of paternity and maternity leave. During that time I was able to build confidence in warming bottles, giving baths, and changing diapers. This is where I need to pause: changing diapers.
Our daughter only poops once a week. Her pediatrician assures us that she is healthy and that she will become more regular over time. Until then, we’re enjoying not having to change several dirty diapers a day. Not only are we saving money on Pampers(!), but we’re also saving money on Glade Plug-Ins. Usually, Emma’s poops occur every 7 days. They are as predictable as having Beyoncé songs played at Soul Cycle. However, her weekly poop is always a blowout. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, a blowout is when a poop is so massive it requires a complete outfit change and shower for baby and parent. It’s total destruction.
I was never unlucky enough to be around during a blowout. I was either running errands, grocery shopping, or away from Mo when Emma blew the dams. However, the week before Mo went back to work, Emma missed her poop day. No worries, right? We figured she would just do it the following day and we would be in the clear. But another day passed and then another and we reached the weekend. Mo, being the great planner that she is, tried to get my emotionally and tactically prepared for possibility that a stink bomb might go off on my first day of duty (dad joke intended) alone.
At that point I started pleading with Emma to do her business before we went back to work. I bribed her with future trips to Disney and new stuffed animals. I read blogs about how to encourage movement. Nothing worked. Monday rolled around and I figured that things couldn’t go too badly without Mo. I’m competent, dang it! The day started out well. Emma napped while I wrote reports and she ate silently as I discussed planning initiatives. In fact, things went so well that I decided to take Emma out for a lunch date at a local taco stand. When we returned I set up her Dock-A-Tot on the chaise portion of the couch, put on my work sweatpants, poured a cup of tea, and dialed into my conference call. I distinctly remember thinking, “Parenting is a breeze.” And then it happened.
After being called on to provide a response for a client, I heard a sound emanate from the bowels (once again, dad joke intended) of Hades. It was a sound so gruesome that I will never be the same again. While trying to maintain my composure as I answered question on the phone, and I peeked out the window to see if the Apocalypse was occurring. It was. But the reckoning was happening in my house and coming out of my daughter. Poop bubbled out of the bottom of the diaper at a rapid speed. It was like Whack-A-Mole. As I tended to the initial leak, a bigger breach opened and more poop escaped up her back. As all of this is happening, I’m still trying to answer questions about project costs and ROI. However, the monster I’m battling doesn’t care about fiscal analysis discussions. It is a relentless foe. At this point I had two choices: 1) let this play out, burn the Dock-A-Tot, and move when she finished or; 2) Get my baby to a tub. When scholars tell this story 100 years from now, they’ll say that it was pride in country that made me choose the latter and run for cover under the flow of gentle water.
I picked Emma up and extended her body away from me until a series of seismic explosions compromised the integrity of the diaper. I pulled her in closer to avoid disaster and sacrificed a t-shirt that didn’t deserve that type of death. At that moment my sweet baby looked at me through her wonderful eyes and smiled a smile that melted my heart like nothing I have ever experienced. I rinsed her off and finished my call on mute while we sang our favorite songs together.
So, the long answer is that every day has challenges. However, the joys greatly outweigh any ruined laundry or dirty diapers. I’m glad I get to spend time with my incredible girl.