Mind Over Moon

August 15th, 2012

6 Things I Learned From Someone Who Poops His Pants


I recently spent a week posing as a nanny to Moonbaby, who at 4 months is the newest addition to our family. As a single 25 year old female, I anticipated gaining some perspective on what it really means to be a parent. I figured I would either come out of it completely disinterested in ever procreating, or decide I’ve been wasting my childbearing years and immediately start researching sperm donors. Neither of those predictions came true.

1. If they can’t dress themselves, it doesn’t matter if the outfit is cute.

One of the first things I learned is that generally, poopy diapers are a breeze. They are basically moist farts. You get yourself into trouble when you’re changing their clothes. You want to pick a nice outfit, but when you’re dealing with someone that could start screaming in your ear at any second, the last thing you want to do is limb wrestle them into complicated pants and shirts. God forbid their arm gets caught, that’s a whole mess of trouble you just don’t have time for. Don’t even get me started on the 50 thousand snaps on their clothes, although they do come in handy when their poop is literally leaking on you and you need to tear their clothes off in superhero shirt ripping fashion. It happened… more than once.

2. Spontaneous dance parties are ALWAYS the answer.

Babies are so curious about everything that something as benign as a ceiling fan can entertain them for a solid 20 minutes. Thus, you find yourself doing absurd things that adults judge you for, but babies just adore. We often listened to music in the mornings. He sat in his little bouncy chair and I washed dishes. But mostly, we danced. He couldn’t talk, but he could screech and wobble, and I was glad to indulge him. We had a ball.

3. You don’t need Rosetta Stone to speak babynese.

Whether it was studying French, learning web scripting languages, or just being my general loud mouth self, I have always embraced the art of communication. Naturally, I didn’t find it difficult to understand someone who merely utters sounds. I often would talk to him in an elevated voice about whatever was going on that day. But the most interesting part was what happened when I shut up: he would respond! He always uttered sounds when I stopped speaking, a fact I found fascinating.

When we would watch the cars out front he would follow their movement to and fro. But every time there was a 5-10 second lull without any going by, he kicked and flailed his arms and started exasperatedly cooing. He literally was saying, “WHERE ARE THEY?” It was so profound to actually witness someone have a thought, know exactly what they were thinking, yet they didn’t utter a word of your language.

4. My newfound appreciation for being selfish…

I didn’t value the time I spent just sitting down perusing the internet, running some quick errands, or cooking dinner until I needed to constantly schedule these small conveniences. When you’re looking after someone who can’t walk, talk, eat or even sit up straight without your assistance, none of your own needs are important. So when his mommy asked me to come back full time when I was done school, I begrudgingly made the selfish decision to focus on my own professional goals. I knew if I was balancing my fledgling web design career and caring for a baby, I would need to make a choice. And I had a feeling my career would take a backseat.

5. My newfound appreciation for being selfless

The day I left Moonbaby’s house, relieved of my nanny duties, I was bound for Newport, Rhode Island for a weekend of swimming in the ocean and bar hopping with my friends. Regardless, I cried for an hour after driving away. Even now, I clamor over every picture his parents post, every text and email update they send. I truly miss him every day. The company of a child is so rewarding, and your ability to make them comfortable is a more fulfilling gift than any time you take for yourself. I can’t imagine the hovering basket case I’m going to be over my own children.

6. Sometimes, you just have to sit back and watch the cars pass by.

No matter how gassy or fussy he was, there was one failsafe solution to restoring the peace. My dad told me this before I left, he said, “When you used to cry, I would take you for a walk outside. You always shut right up.” Truth. Moonbaby immediately went silent as he watched me unhitch the front lock. There we would sit, looking out at a relatively busy road. The cars whizzing by, sometimes we sat there for an hour at a time. He would coo occasionally, but mostly he would watch in utter fascination at every moving object passing us by. It was a constant reminder that life is always much simpler than we make it out to be.