Disposable diapers, I’ve whined for years, have ruined this country.
I was joking. Sort of. I was referring, in the main, to an ever-accelerating divorce rate. But those diapers remain an issue.
My first child was born in 1970. Pampers were fairly new. Huggies and “wipes” hadn’t even come along yet. The whole idea of disposable diapers was as liberating to young mothers as any notion of overthrowing some ham-fisted tyrant. Imagine how we felt: The baby poops and in three easy steps you’re done with the doo-doo. Take off the Pampers, wipe the kid’s butt and toss the whole nasty wad in the trash. Not the baby, of course. You kept him, freshly diapered, smelling like sunshine and Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder…and you went right back to reading your lusty Harlequin Romance. Ah-h-h. The allure of disposability had never been so evident, so attractive.
Everyone wanted it, that disposability factor. I still believe the toss-it-when-soiled mindset impacted badly on marriage. After Pampers we knew if something got stinky we could always throw it out and get a freah one. But the whole thing snowballed. The issue broadened in scope.
Being a Born Again Liberal in 1970 meant that, while I coveted both disposability and freedom from responsibility, I felt guilty about it. Liberals, by nature, feel guilty about everything. Something about wrapping my baby in plastic all the time–then adding that plastic to the chemical stew at the local landfill–bothered me. this meant I had to actually soend a little time thinking things through. I had to find a “third way” or die. So I bought four dozen cloth diapers for my son. I used cloth during the day, Pampers at night. The compromise eased my guilt. A good thing. And, ever the fiscal conservative, I saved money. But that meant daytime diapering wasn’t of the three-easy-steps-and-you’re-done variety. Tough going.
I did, however, learn something.
If you want that baby badly enough, sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Cloth diapers clogged with baby-poop have to be cleaned up before you toss them on the laundry pile and get on with your day. This means you’re up to your elbows in the toilet. Scraping the ka-ka, flushing, scraping again, rubbing, scrubbing, wringing and rinsing again. For as long as it takes. And you can’t let go of that diaper. No way. No matter how slimy it is or how bad it smells. If you do it’ll go down the toilet, clog up your pipes, stink up your whole house and get you a plumbing bill you hadn’t counted on and can’t afford to pay.
What does all this have to do with Iraq? With war? We invaded Iraq with a Pampers, Huggies and Baby Wipes War Plan. Three quick steps, they told us, and we’d be out of there. Yank Saddam, wipe and toss. The baby would be clean and happy and it would belong to us. Easy.
But we’ve ended up with a screaming brat we can’t control and don’t want on these terms–and a steaming, stinking cloth diaper-full. We’re up to our necks in the crapper and if we let go now… Well, they tell us the back-up of all that sewage isn’t an option we’re quite prepared to deal with, is it? Turns out there was nothing disposable about invading Iraq.
Dubyah & Co. wanted this baby. Badly. They had to have it, even when grown-ups like Barack Obama warned about the long-range consequences. Now we’re all stuck with it. This diaper is loaded. The more we try to clean it the worse it gets. It stinks to high heaven. So does the baby, who’s now naked and squalling because we can’t get the job done. Seems as if no one who thought it was such a good idea has an easy, three-steps-and-you’re-done way to dispose of the mess.
So we keep on scraping and flushing and scraping and flushing and hanging on until the diaper is at least clean enough to add to the laundry pile. Worse yet, it would appear they expect us to hang on until the screaming baby smells good and smiles.