People tend to treat it like an admirable but inconvenient decision that they would never seriously consider themselves, like converting your car to run on vegetable oil or biking everywhere instead of driving.
They see it as difficult, and a little weird.
This bothers me, because I think my choice is more convenient, not less.
I use a diaper service, Happy Nappy, and since they bring my diapers to my door and take them away from me on a weekly basis, you could argue that my choice is actually lazier than using disposables, since I never have to go shopping for diapers. I don’t deal with any more poop than a parent who uses disposables. In fact, since I find that disposables have a deplorable tendency to leak poop down my baby’s leg, I actually deal with more poop when he’s in disposables.
Their cost is comparable to disposables – around $25 a week – and service becomes free after you’ve been with them for 30 months, because kids usually potty train earlier in cloth diapers. So either my kid will be potty trained by 30 months, or I get free diapers. That makes it a cheaper choice, even with the convenience of a diaper service.
So here I am, making a cheaper and more convenient choice, but people respond as though I was hand-knitting my entire family’s wardrobe or something.
But I wouldn’t mind that in and of itself. If anything, it makes me look good, even while I save time and money. It’s just that I get so tired of the vibe that I get from friends and child care staff.
One of our friends who babysits for us returns his wet diapers double-bagged and double-knotted in plastic, even though we have a special bag with a zipper made just for this purpose.
I mean, it’s a wet diaper, it’s not nuclear waste.
And I had a devil of a time trying to find a daycare that would even allow cloth diapers.
“But what would I do with the diapers? I can’t keep them inside, we have health regulations,” one potential caregiver argued.
“What do you do with the dirty disposables?” I argued, “do you walk each one outside to the curb every time you change a kid’s diaper?”
“So instead of throwing it in the bin, you put it in a separate bag and I take them away at the end of the day. I bet the other parents don’t take away their dirty diapers,” I said.
“But why can’t you just use disposables?” begged another lady at another daycare.
“What’s wrong with cloth?” is what I want to know.
I just don’t understand what the big deal is.
People seem to see my choice to use cloth diapers as some sort of environmentalist craze. It’s not. Saving the world wasn’t even in my top three reasons for using cloth.
The first two reasons were the cost and convenience of a diaper service. The third was health.
I’m not saying that using disposables is a terrible thing.
I don’t think that using cloth diapers makes me a better mother than those who don’t.
It’s a minor decision, and I’m not a purist. I use disposables when we travel, for example, and I don’t spend the entire time terrified that the chemicals will shrivel his little penis right off (although my husband, who never felt strongly about diapers before the baby was born, has become fervently pro-cloth after our travel experiences with disposables).
But on the other hand, I think that since I’m making a healthy, convenient, and cheaper choice, I shouldn’t be given quite so much grief over it.
Owl’s daycare markets itself as “green” and they take great care to use non-toxic chemicals and provide organic, from-scratch meals. But my choice to use cloth has only ever been treated as a special favour that they do for me. I happen to know that one of the other kids who comes to the daycare wears cloth at home, but his mother is forced to bring him in disposables. She doesn’t know that Owl is coming in cloth each day, as a condition of me bringing him at all.
Owl is a bit of a favourite at his daycare, and they even provided me free service when I was out of work, again as a favour because they loved Owl so much. So I’m grateful. I owe them a lot. So I keep my mouth shut.
But I’m also resentful.
Because why should it be treated like such a special favour to bring my kid in cloth? The provincial health website even says right in its daycare facility guidelines that cloth diapers are recognized to be healthier than disposables and no more of a contamination risk when handled correctly.
I feel guilty that my son gets to come in cloth, and this other boy doesn’t. Cloth diapering moms should stick together. Whenever I meet one, we immediately bond over our socially bizarre decision. I even had an old friend who I hadn’t seen in many years mail me her old diaper covers when her youngest son outgrew them, as a gesture of solidarity, and I was pathetically grateful.
Another friend, The Farm Fairy, uses the same diaper service, and we have exchanged clean diapers for dirty on weeks when one of us was running a little low.
But those are my only cloth diapering contacts. When I talk to anyone else, I just try and ignore their “it’s weird” expressions, because I don’t want to start a whose-way-is-better argument with people I like and care about.
I don’t want to be that person.
I just find their decision to use disposables to be as baffling as they find my decision to use cloth, and I wish that my reasonable decision didn’t get perceived as quite so unreasonable.
What parenting decision have you made that seemed perfectly reasonable to you, but seems weird to others?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog from mother of one, Carol @IfByYes.
Photo credit to simplyla. This image has a creative commons attribute license.