Tear-Stained Cloth Diapaers

Diaper on a Hill

I joyously proclaim myself to be someone who cares deeply about the environment. I will enthusiastically share more about what I do on a daily basis to make intentional choices to preserve the environment for a whole lot longer than you would want to hear about it. I am proud of where I am right now living intentionally and I am continuing to strive to do more, to do better, to push myself a little bit here and there.

Though I have come a long way, it did NOT happen overnight, and it was NOT without some tears, frustration, and hard work in tiny little increments over a much longer timeline than I would have hoped. I want you to realize as Earth Day approaches and spring leaps into full swing that you can make changes and make intentional choices a little bit at a time. You DO NOT have to be a perfect environmental enthusiast to make a difference for our earth. Each little choice you make has the potential to make a huge impact.

We made the decision to use cloth diapers before our son was born. We took a class about modern cloth diapers and bought cloth diapering supplies for a newborn. Unfortunately, our son spent a little more than his first month of life in the hospital, and once we had been home for a couple weeks and felt ready to dive into cloth diapering, those diapers we had purchased no longer fit.

I really lost it when I finally gave in and admitted those cloth diapers were not going to work. In my hormone-flooded mommy mind, cloth diapering was the last bit of control I had left in my son’s early infancy.

I had no control during the end of my pregnancy, being hospitalized on medical bed rest. I had no control over the emergency situation his birth became. I had no control over any of my son’s care during that first month. I didn’t get to change his first diaper, or give him his first bath, or put his first outfit on him. I wasn’t even allowed to swoop in and comfort him when he cried without permission to open the isolette. There were timers set for how long I could hold MY child.

I had NO control, and this control freak was going to lose her freaking mind if she couldn’t at least make her decision to cloth diaper her son stick!

I dug my heels in and began to research more about cloth diapers and quickly realized that there were too many options. So I started talking to other moms who already cloth diapering, and I found a type of diaper I thought would work for me, and ordered some.

I was so excited when those adorable little diapers came in the mail. I carefully laundered them and was nervous and giddy at the same time when I put one on my son for the very first time. I felt wonderful and so superior as I carried him around with his fluffy little cloth diapered bottom, and then it happened. Thirty minutes after putting that first diaper on and we were both covered in pee!

I was furious at the mess. Angry at the diaper. I was disappointed in myself. I felt like an utter failure because of one leaky diaper. Ridiculous, I know, but that was my truth in the moment.

I’m not sure how I managed this in my new mommy fog, but I was able to take a step back and realize that I was trying to make too big of a change. I was trying to go whole hog and I had set myself up for failure. I was still trying to figure out this whole “mom” gig, let alone a completely foreign practice.

I wanted to be all-in, cloth-diapering all the time, no exceptions right out of the gate. Sure, that may have worked for your neighbor’s crunchy friend Martha who is a perfect “natural” mom (gag!), but this was not a plan for success for me. I was trying to do too much, too fast, too soon.

So, I took a step back. I shared my problem with a person I knew to be a cloth-diapering guru and she lovingly provided me with some problem-solving suggestions and I went back to the drawing board. I needed to set some more realistic expectations.

I decided I wanted to use cloth diapers in the morning and then switch to disposable for nap and bedtime. I pulled back my expectations and only asked myself to make a small change. I set SMART goals (more on SMART goals in another post) and went to work making small, incremental changes.

Within one month, I fell in love with cloth diapering. Weird thing to fall in love with, I know, but I really did love it. Because I gave myself space to learn by pulling back on my expectations, and because I gave myself the gift of grace to learn from and live with my mistakes, I created an environment for growth. I grew faster and stronger in the art of cloth diapering than I ever thought I would.

I talk to so many people who will excitedly share about an environmental practice they would like to do, and then they talk themselves out of it within minutes. They give me all the reasons they admire Susie and Bob who do this awesome thing, but THEY could never do it.

I wanted to share my ridiculously dramatic tale of learning to cloth diaper so that you could feel empowered to take a courageous leap and implement small, intentional changes so you can achieve your goals. Whether its learning to compost, or reducing household waste, or using less electricity, or even just learning to be happy with less, you CAN make a change. You have to start somewhere, so start small, and from a place of grace and forgiveness.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

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