Recently, another and much better-known daddy blogger has garnered a good deal of press over something that he admits is a small but important matter. It seems he attends a church that, like many places, had baby-changing amenities in the women’s room but not the men’s. He recommended a change and was heeded. His victory announcement that a changing table had been installed in the men’s room has come across my social media feed more times than I care to count, and the event has been covered by a number of other news outlets and websites.
The first thing I want to say is good for him. He made a change that makes his life, and his wife’s, a bit more convenient and comfortable and likely affects a good number of other families as well. And he makes a fair point that when he is out with his wife, she will more often than not end up with changing duty due to the availability of changing stations, as well as that his options are often to go out to the car or change the diaper on a bathroom floor. I get it. I’ve been in all of those situations.
The second thing I want to say is I really and truly don’t care, and I’m beginning to resent the way this is being covered. Yesterday, I got basically tricked into reading this same story again by a Distractify headline that reads, “Dad’s Post On Why Men Rarely Change Diapers Highlights Issue Everyone Forgets.” Misleading clickbait, and it got me. The author writes, “Though lots of people don’t think about this, diaper changing is kind of hard for dudes,” and here I am thinking she’s about to drop some weird psychological reason that men don’t deal as well as women with bodily discharge–but nope. It’s just because there aren’t abundant changing stations for them.
Like I said, I have dealt with this. Although my son is now out of diapers and my daughter’s food allergies have kept us from visiting as many restaurants, etc., as we used to, I have been a diaper-changing dad for four years now. Sure, there have been numerous occasions when the lack of changing amenities in a men’s room has left my wife with the job. (Not for nothing, but there have also been plenty of times when women’s restrooms lacked changing tables as well.) But I’d much rather talk about the other times. I used to spend a lot of time out in the world with my son, and I’ll just say that his functions were not always as regular as I would have liked.
Many, many places have changing tables in men’s rooms, so let’s start with that. The issue is not as pervasive as the Dad’s Rights Activists (Is that a real thing?) might have you believe. And judging by the sorry state of some of them, I’d say this has been the case for some time. Some of these changing tables have been used to the point that I didn’t always feel safe putting my babies on them, which indicates that not only have they probably been there for years, but maybe that dads changing diapers isn’t so very rare. So no, this is not an issue that everyone forgets. What it is is a relatively recent shift in parenting culture that is being addressed by a large and growing number of establishments. Sorry (but not surprised) that this guy’s Mormon church wasn’t right on the cutting edge of that one. For what it’s worth, they’re still way ahead of the Steak ‘n Shake we used to frequent in Louisville.
What’s more, I’d like to introduce you to my diaper bag.
It is produced by a company called Diaper Dude that makes a variety of bags that cater to lots of different “manly” styles for all the dads out there. I got the one with skulls on it, because juvenile musician–duh. Not only is this entire company a refutation of the idea that “everyone forgets” that sometimes men also need to change diapers, but the bags–or mine, at least–come with a neat little fold-out changing pad (pictured peeking out at the top). No Koala Kare? No problem. Slap that bad boy down anywhere, and you can get the job done. Particularly scummy bathroom with a nasty floor? Well, maybe don’t patronize that establishment anymore (at least not with the kid, man, alright?), but also a couple baby wipes and a little elbow grease can make a big difference. If that don’t suit you, I’ll have you know that I have changed diapers on every seat in my car. I hope you parked close, Dad.
What I’m saying is, it’s not hard to be a little bit resourceful.
Would I rather use a nice, clean, appropriately-elevated changing table than the options above? Of course. Like I said, I’m glad my fellow blogger was able to make a change that makes his life easier. What I’m not down with is acting like dads are the victims here and that this is some “issue” that boils down to society not recognizing that dads are parents, too. As pointed out in the original post, the lack of men’s room changing tables is mostly unfair to women, and the issue–if we must call it that–at the heart of it is the long tradition of placing a hugely disproportionate amount of parental responsibility on mothers. Don’t come at me with some nonsense about work/financial responsibilities being dumped on fathers, either. A) That’s a separate issue, and B) that’s the way men built it, for themselves. I’m not shouting down the patriarchy every time I walk into a john with no changing table, but let’s be honest: men built the world this way because they didn’t want the responsibility. There wasn’t some cadre of powerful women conspiring to keep all the diaper-changing power for themselves (as much as I love that image). I think it’s wonderful that parenting dynamics are changing, and as a father I’m glad to be part of the change. I’m also willing to accept, though, that this means sometimes having to improvise a bit when I’ve got a stinky situation away from home.
So, fellow diaper dudes out there, continue to be the (diaper) change(r) you want to see in the world. If you frequent an establishment with no changing station for you, make a request. But please don’t make this about your “rights” or about some grand failure of the world at large to recognize your parental legitimacy. Some people have real problems, and I imagine you do too. Best not to add imaginary ones on top.