The Diaper Reality

DSC02881There was poop everywhere

A routine 3:00 a.m. diaper change turned ugly at about 3:01 when I discovered that Claire had pooped up to the back of her neck. How does that happen?! Seriously. The physics of it just blows my mind. I’m sure there is a YouTube video out there explaining it with simulations and quadratic equations, but I digress.

The problem with this particular blowout was not so much that Claire was caked in it, but that the diaper was not disposable. My wife and I’s inner hippie got the best of us before Claire was born when we decided that we would use reusable diapers. This isn’t your great-grandma’s dinner-napkin-with-a-safety-pin diaper. This is a technologically advanced diaper that makes those hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year in disposables vanish. What these “BumGenius” company folks don’t tell you before you buy them is that there’s this nasty, sticky, Spiderman web like poop that doesn’t come off easily. It’s the kind that you need laser to remove it from the diaper. “It’s still attached!” “Get the laser, hun!”

They sell a sprayer attachment that connects to your toilet. It works—20 gallons later.

So I cleaned Claire off, changed her and then did battle with Satan’s forgotten child in a technologically advanced diaper. 20 gallons later, I claimed victory. I thought I was going to need a priest, but it worked out.

I went back to Claire’s room because she was making some noise. She was probably traumatized from the experience. I know I was—it was up to her neck! I walked in and smelled poop. I thought that maybe some had passed Claire’s head and hit the wall or something crazy like that. I sniffed around and found the source—in Claire’s new diaper. Apparently Satan had another forgotten child.

I began the cleaning process again (this time I used a disposable diaper—who’s the bum genius now?!). I began to pull the Velcro strap of the new diaper close when I heard a foul noise followed by a smell. Claire had pulled off a Hat Trick and it was only 3:10 a.m.

At this point I am beyond upset and I lose it. I start quietly yelling (which is hard to do) at Claire for this unnecessary level of bowel activity. She starts crying. I start crying, which is followed by shame, guilt, and many other terrible emotions.

I put Claire to bed and head to the living room to let the whole ordeal set in. “I yelled at her, God! For pooping!” More shame. More tears and the realization that I might not be as good of a father as I think I am. As I sat on the couch upset at myself, and asking God for patience and strength, I felt that God had something to say.

As usual I wasn’t expecting this.

God was showing me that Claire’s bowel movements are an image of my life. I sin. God comes in to clean the mess. I sin again—almost immediately—and God comes in to clean the mess again. As He patiently and lovingly cleanses me I go ahead and make another mess—the Hat Trick. Yet, God patiently wipes away the nasty, foul and unpleasant reality that is my brokenness. The diaper reality is this: we sin, seek forgiveness, God cleanses and heals, and we sin again. However, our heavenly Father is much more patient than this rookie dad. When I look at the analogy of this diaper fiasco I realize God is right and that, yet again, discovering fatherhood is more than learning patience with Claire and diaper cleansing techniques. It demands that I recognize and accept God’s never-ending patience with me, and my own constant diaper Hat Tricks.

*No technologically advanced diapers were harmed in the making of this blog*

Holding on to you, dear life

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Before getting married I thought I was a pretty selfless person. When I got married I thought I needed to be a little less selfish. When we had Claire I came to the realization of the full extent of my selfishness.  It was real, big and in every facet of my life!

There is nothing like giving your life to someone else to make you realize your desire to hold on to it. I think we all come to a point in life where we recognize that to truly live we must die to ourselves, but the distance from dying to self…………and actually doing it…………is quite…………far.

Claire is a pretty easy baby. She has been sleeping through the night since she was 2 months old.  I am told that I am extremely lucky, even blessed. There are those moments of crankiness, random crying and 2 am feedings that I can handle, but it’s the moments when I am unwilling to be interrupted because I am doing “my thing” that I recognize the full extent of my desperate hold onto life. Whether it’s watching re-runs of Arrested Development, praying, or trying to finish that book I started 5 months ago, I recognize that I am unwilling to fully surrender myself to my role as father.

I recognize that when I hold onto my life on my own terms I end up enjoying it less. When I am willing to surrender, sacrifice and serve my wife and daughter I am fulfilled, happy and joyful. However, 2 days later I am at it again desperately clinging to my own life not realizing that by doing this I am actually chocking it to death and keeping it from being what it should be—a gift.

I think all of our lives are a gift. And gifts are meant to be given away…to others. Discovering fatherhood is helping me to realize the power that this gift of life can have… if only I would be willing to let go of it.

The Cyrus Lesson

miley-cyrus-babyThe other night my Facebook newsfeed was inundated with comments about Miley Cyrus and something crazy, raunchy, etc that she did. I finally decided to Google her name and see what would pop up.

Yikes.

I’m sure by now many of you have seen the VMA “performance” that Miley was in. If you haven’t don’t look for it, your souls is better of not watching it. Lets just say she pretended to be something less than human on stage.

My first reaction to Miley’s performance was not shock, disgust or embarrassment. I was thinking to myself, how did she get to this point? Where along the way did this 20 year old think twerking (if you don’t know what this is you are better off) on stage in her underwear was the right thing to do? The sad thing is that anyone can become what Miley was on stage that night. My daughter, your daughter anyones daughter. We all have the potential to be incredible people or to chose something less…twerking.

The picture in this post is of Miley Cyrus when she was a baby. Here is a child with infinite potential in all aspects of life. A child with dignity, worth and goodness. The Miley on stage at the VMA awards is that same person. The same dignity, worth and goodness is there. I think she just forgot, or maybe was never told about it.

A few years ago Glenn Beck (*diclaimer: I am neither a fan or foe of him*) did an interview with Billy Ray Cyrus where he asked him about his daughter, Miley:

“Are you at all concerned?” Beck asked the young star’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, at the time. “I mean, the odds of Miley turning into Ron Howard — meaning sane — pretty low. Living in Los Angeles, being a child star — hello? Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, name a million others…”

Cyrus was confident that his daughter had a “great head on her shoulders” and a “great heart.” He also explained that he tries to be her “best friend,” while letting his wife act as the disciplinarian.

“I taught them how to build a good snowman, how to ride a motorcycle, how to ride a horse, how to roast a wiener properly over a fire, and a good marshmallow,” Cyrus explained. “…But discipline I always left up to the mama. She was really, really good at that. That never was — I never was really good at that.”

There is a lesson to be learned here. Billy Ray is not to be blamed for Miley’s VMA spectacle, she is her own person and has a will and intellect to chose. One can though wonder what Miley would be like today if dad had disciplined her, told her no, change that outfit, you are grounded, don’t you ever twerk–ever!

There have been tons of articles, seminars and books that talk about the crucial role of a father in a child’s life. If you are a dad please understand this: you set the precedent to what your child will understand a man is supposed to be. You also set the precedent for helping your child discover their dignity, worth and goodness–especially a daughter. If you are a coward, lazy, angry, raunchy, immoral, good, caring, faithful, selfless…then this is what she will  understand a man to be. Why is it that every now and then we hear women say, “I just seem to attract all the losers and jerks.” The reason is probably because that is all they have seen and known.

As a Youth Minister I have ministered to some girls who have forgotten or were never told that they have dignity, worth and goodness. The majority of those girls had no fathers or if they did, were around but not fully, actively and consciously participating in their lives. So that is what they learn a man is: not around, not able to focus, not really invested in their lives.

Men, we have a responsibility to be more than a provider of house, food and education. Building snowmen, roasting marshmallows and teaching our kids how to ride a horse are great bonding experiences, but not enough for them. I realize I only have a 5 month old, but I cannot settle for anything less than my daughter recognizing that she is an unrepeatable, exquisite, beautiful human being. We must remind our children that they have dignity, worth and goodness. More importantly, we must live out dignity, worth and goodness in our everyday lives so that they can see it and understand that this is what they deserve!

If we do not…expect worse things than twerking.

The Light

Claire lights
My daughter has this thing for lights.

When Claire was born the doctors said she was really observant, which apparently is a sign of intelligence (she gets if from my wife). I remember Claire looking at the many lights in the labor room and I thought how interesting it was that so young she was able to see them. Now, almost 5 months old, Claire continues to look towards the light. I will literally have her in my arms and move her from one side of the room to the other just to see her little neck turn as she follows the light.

Claire loves the light.

There are moments when Claire will have her eyes focused on the light and a distraction causes her to turn away. Usually this distraction comes in the form of a noise brought on by my incredibly hyper mutt of a dog named Rocky. When Claire realizes it’s just the dog, she tries to fix her eyes back on the light. Claire will often search and not find it. She will move her little head back and forth in desperation searching. I usually have to turn her so that I can point her in the right direction. When she sees it she is glued to it.

Claire loves The Light.

As a father I recognize that there will always be distractions in Claire’s life. My daughter will have her attention taken away from The Light by various noises, people and things. It is my job to always point Claire back to The Light. It is also my responsibility to make sure that I, as well as my wife are not allowing distractions and noise to pull us away from The Light or else we will not be able to guide Claire towards it.

I want Claire to be a saint.

That’s right, that incredibly “antiquated” thing that many deem impossible. I’m convinced that the reason we don’t have more saints in the world is because they have taken their eyes off of The Light. The distraction and noises–the other “shiny” things–caught their attention and they went from the True Light of the world to something flourescent, LED, fake.  I see this a lot unfortunately and those fake lights can be pretty and enticing. They come in all shapes and colors and they can be custom-made to fit your own desire.

As I write these words while I hold my daughter my one desire and prayer is, ‘God please help me keep her eyes is fixed on You.’ Sure I want her to be successful, intelligent, creative and all those things that make life good, BUT…never at the expense of her losing her focus on God.

So daddy will continue to point her back to the light. Wave to her when her eyes catch the thousands of other shiny things, because even though they may be nice to look at in that moment, Claire loves The Light.

Seriously…a blog?

A number of years ago I started a blog that took people through my discernment process in the seminary (companionleo.blogspot.com). I was discerning if God wanted me to be a Catholic priest. I really enjoyed thinking, praying and writing about that experience. God had lots of things to say to me through that journey and those who read that blog, which I learned was more than just my mom, actually enjoyed it. Since the birth of my daughter Claire I have gone through lots of emotions, feelings and thoughts. I think that most guys shy away from expressing this kind of stuff, but I don’t want to. I’m no great writer (my grammar will surely prove that) and I am not expecting this blog to be on the “Forbes 100 best blogs” (if such a thing exists). I’m just a dad that is having a ball with his wife and daughter and I want to share about discovering fatherhood.