Life on the run is no easy task

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2010

The signs are unmistakable.

When the normally chaotic Hillyer house turns suddenly quiet and our 10-month child stops in his tracks, with a particularly intense expression on his face, my wife and I know to be prepared.

A dirty diaper is at hand.

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From the start, those regular “packages” delivered by our son have caused me great distress.

I am not sure why they do. Sure, there is the mess and the smell. For me though, I think it has something to with being terribly uncoordinated and having to handle hazardous waste — there is the potential for a terrible accident.

Before Gibson was born, I heard stories about the good old days when there was a distinct boundary between men’s and women’s roles.

Back then, fathers left mother and baby each morning to venture into the work world to slay dragons. That was the way it was for my grandfather and many of the men of that generation.

According to my mother-in-law, my father-in-law never changed a diaper because he was afraid of slipping up and stabbing the baby with a diaper pin.

If pins were still used today, that would have been my excuse that first day in the hospital when the nurse handed me the diapers and wipes.

At the time I did not know that my mother and father were new age 60s parents. My dad evidently changed diapers, gave regular baths and gladly did his part.

So when my mother looked over my shoulder in the hospital, and I tried to think of every excuse why I was unable to change my newborn son’s diaper, my mother said, “Buck up, son, and be a real father.”

Evidently, I was going to be a new age father whether I wanted to or not.

To be honest, diaper changing is the only part of fathering that freaks me out a bit. I am willing to bathe, feed, clothe and carry out any other parenting responsibility.

I want to be one of those fathers who is part of his child’s daily life — just not the diaper changing part.

Since that first day in the hospital, I have accepted that I will have to change diapers regularly.

Over time the task has been relatively routine and uneventful. In fact, I had diaper changing down to an art form in Gibson’s early days when dirty diapers were coming at a relatively fast clip.

There were times when I caught myself thinking that there was really nothing to freak out about. The new age father thing was growing on me.

Lately however, I have caught myself backsliding.

In recent weeks I have caught myself scheming avoidance techniques. My wife and I have a friendly agreement that the first person to discover the mess is the one who gets to change it.

I must admit that I have become expert at ignoring the signs, putting on my best poker face and hoping that my wife will notice first. Since our son’s diapers have become more predictable, I am able to leave the house for work each morning just in the nick of time.

These techniques have worked surprisingly well. The only problem is that I feel a little like a Harrison Ford’s character in the movie, “The Fugitive.”

I am 10 months into this diaper-changing thing. How much longer will I be on the run?

Ben Hillyer is the Web editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or