The following story always ends with me looking like an immature, silly,
inconsiderate husband and in fact it is true.
The story begins when our oldest son, Paul, was approximately 3 months old, and I was a student at the University of Utah. It was a holiday, and I was home with Paul, but his mother Carol had to work. Before she left for work that morning she asked if I would take our son to her during her lunch hour so she could show him to her co-workers.
I told her I would do that, but if he had a problem (translation: a stinky diaper) I would take him to my mom for her to change him. My wife insisted that I change him myself because it was inconsiderate to expect my mom to do it. I assured her that if she didn’t want me to take him to mom’s I would just leave him in his dirty diaper and bring him to her so she could do it.
The thing which I didn’t count on was that Paul chose this particular day to drop his largest, stinkiest, messiest load of all time. To this day I am convinced he understood the disagreement his parents were having, and he sided with his mom and saved everything for that strategic moment. He was testing me, and I failed his test.
He did his thing and I rationalized that it was only an hour before I took him to his mother, and she could clean him up for her friends. I like to think that I was really naïve and didn’t understand the discomfort Paul was in, and I sure miscalculated the effect it would have on Carol.
The moment of truth was etched indelibly into my mind when I walked into that lunchroom and saw Carol. The hurt and disappointment was apparent when she realized that Paul was messy and stinky. I cannot forget the look of frustration and embarrassment that was on her face. She didn’t think that I would really do it, but regrettably I did.
With tears in her eyes she took her son out of my arms, went into the restroom to change and clean him. At that moment I realized that I really was an insensitive JERK.
Paul stunk so badly that the entire lunchroom was permeated with the smell of his ripe diaper. People eating their lunch got up and left.
Today, I can laugh at myself when I tell this story. It always gets a good laugh. However, I am ashamed and embarrassed because of my actions that day. Telling this story still evokes painful thoughts and feelings.
Fortunately for me, one of Carol’s strengths was her ability to forgive and continue loving the person who embarrassed or offended her. This is precisely what she did to me on this particular day.
Everything from this experience however was not negative. I learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize it for several years. I still refused to change Paul’s dirty diapers, but by the time Peter, our second son, arrived I had changed my attitude.
This incident caused me to do a lot of soul searching. I recognized that my attitude was wrong and that men who really loved their wives and children did change diapers (even messy ones). I made a commitment that Paul would never see his dad refuse to change a messy diaper. He would not be able to say to his kids, “My dad never changed a messy diaper in his life, so I am not going to either.” I wanted to set an example for him so much that I consciously worked and tried to do a better job helping Carol with Peter’s diapers.
I believe life is full of little decisions that can impact us in a big way. Perhaps my initial decision not to change dirty diapers wasn’t the biggest crime, but it affected my family. I am grateful that Paul never saw me refuse to change Peter’s diapers. He has done his share of helping his wife change his children’s diapers. Good job, Paul! Your mother would be proud.
As fathers we should ask ourselves, “Is there anything more that we can do to make life better for our wives and families?”
Here’s to failing forward!
Calvert and Anne
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