James Brown’s iconic hit song “This Is A Man’s World” has absolutely nothing to do with my day-to-day life. Most mornings start off the same way. I get little G-man out of his crib and cradle him towards my chest. He looks at me with loving blue eyes, stretches his mouth into a broad smile and starts opening and closing his mouth whispering “da da da” as recognition of who I am settles into his sleepy mind.
Then, just as my heart starts to melt a little, he chomps down on my nipple with all the might of a great white shark, spits out my nipple, cries and looks at me with confused, judgmental eyes. So starts another day as his less favorite parent, mostly due to my dry, defective, hairy nipples.
After dressing, a change of diaper and a bottle (he definitely prefers the synthetic nipple to what my body has to offer him), we are ready to attack the day! First stop is the local grocery store to stock up on some stage 2 and 3 baby food and receives mixed reactions from other shoppers. Sometimes it is the usual “way to go daddy!” which I appreciate but to which I am never sure how I am expected to respond. High five? Spike a football and break into a touchdown celebration dance?
Often I get a look of disappointment and a shake of the head as if I must be unemployable because I am shopping with a baby on a work day. From there, my little sidekick and I often meet up with other babies and parents for a play date at a park or tumbling exercises at The Little Gym. At either location, I am usually the only one not wearing yoga pants and holding a cell phone case that looks like it lost a war to a Bedazzler.
Sometimes we meet up with one of daddy’s old co-workers for lunch, at least the ones that don’t mind the sideways glances from people assuming we are a gay couple that adopted. A surprising hurdle I never expected is how few venues offer changing stations (much less working changing stations) in the men’s room. Even when restaurants have a station, many times the springs are broken meaning the table folds down to 75 degree angle (as opposed to horizontal) which can make diaper changing slightly more challenging. Many restaurants also have the station installed on the wall directly behind the door to the bathroom that is constantly being opened! Not the most well thought out of floor plans.
For this reason, it is sometimes easier to change diapers at the trunk of the car, laying down a puppy wee pad (that I previously recommended keeping in your tactical diaper bag to turn any surface into a disposable changing table). This often results in older women shaking their heads and rolling their eyes in your direction, but is often still the least cumbersome choice.
One time at a local mall, Lil’ G and I went to use the family bathroom. A little old lady looked at me quizzically and I said we just needed to change a diaper. She said “Oh, do you know how to do that or would you like me to show you?” I thanked her for her offer and politely declined saying that “By now I have some experience with this. This kid needs a new diaper practically everyday.” I then closed the door just as the look of recognition of what I said appeared on her face. Sometimes I question whether or not I am actually on the receiving end of all these judgmental looks or if it is just my ego running away on me.
One thing that I have been pleasantly surprised by is the camaraderie I receive from other dads. When carrying Lil’ G into a public restroom missing a changing station, often other dads remark about missing those days, help wipe clean the counter for me or offer to assist by holding the diaper bag while I change him out. At the end of the day, I love running errands or just hanging out with my little sidekick and would not trade it for any job in the world. For all the little gripes and complaints I have, things could always be worse. At least my boobs don’t leak whenever I hear a baby cry.