THIS I BELIEVE: USING CLOTH DIAPERS
When our 26 year old daughter was a baby, cloth diapers were not unusual, although disposable, plastic covered ones were making a debut. Her father and I never used them, partly because our daughter’s skin developed rashes easily, and largely because of their cost, as we were living on student loans and help from my parents at the time. We adapted to our new baby and intimately knew her personality and bodily functions, her spirit and her waste. And now, we still have the soft cotton diapers as exercise cloths, those that have survived anyway, and they are still soft and smell sweet fresh from the laundry, like our cleaned-up daughter wriggling and laughing up at me. We no longer have to deftly fold them in the kite pattern which we were taught by our friends with children (the same friends from which we inherited a baby basket, crib, and enough clothing for three children), smoothing them down with a caress and piling them high, ready for use. These days, we just pull them from the automatic dryer and toss them in a drape over the stationary bike handlebars, but in 1982, they held the warmth of the sun on a line in the yard, flapping in the breeze, occasionally to be snapped down by the Sally dog jumping at the teasing flags. Less often, I remember the effort to get them from the baby’s bottom to the washer, but it involved a kitchen knife and the toilet, and usually a scrunched up nose and little sounds like air escaping a bicycle tire. My husband and I knew our baby intimately, the sweet and the human sides, all around and up and down. We accepted all parts of that relationship happily.
I think it is important for each of us to know all steps in the processes of life, whether it is caring for a child, pulling our own weeds, cooking our own food, washing and ironing our own clothes, or mending our own pants. These activities tie us to the earth, to our lives, and to ourselves, ground us in reality, make ideas concrete, and give us a basis for valuing things and ideas and thereby making decisions that are right for us. These small chores give great pleasure when done mindfully. Each one gives a small sense of accomplishment that is often missing in the busy, workaday world, and I am reminded that, in order to live life fully, we must participate fully in life.