Whenever someone brings up my in-laws, the first thing I do is ask them a question: Have you ever seen Everybody Loves Raymond? My in-laws are Frank and Marie in almost every way. Spending time with them is very much like living in a sitcom. My father-in-law grumbling about having no dinner to eat (he would never make anything himself). My mother-in-law escorting my nearly-four-year-old to the bathroom because after more than a year, she’s still not convinced that he’s actually potty-trained. Arguments over how to correctly wipe up condensation on the counter top. The downside, of course, is that there is no “stop” button in real life when I get tired of watching.
We waited for four months to tell my in-laws that we were expecting again. At some point, you have to learn to pick your battles, and listening to their laundry list of reasons why we weren’t ready to have more kids was one we weren’t ready to deal with. Eventually, we did break the news, but we later faced a new obstacle: telling them we planned to cloth diaper. We didn’t use cloth on our older son, though now I feel guilty for having put him in disposables for three years. We had a cloth diaper shower coming up, and I knew we had to tell them before then.
Finally, my husband just blurted it out one day. And the reaction was as expected. After the initial shock wore off and the echo of “WHY??” finished ringing through the air, my mother-in-law pulled out the scare tactics.
“When Jamie [my brother-in-law] was a baby, the nurse pinned his diaper through his skin in the hospital.”
“You know you’re going to have to wash laundry every single day, right?”
“All that dirty laundry is really unsanitary to keep putting in your washing machine.”
“You’ll be too busy with your kids to be able to swish them in the toilet like you’re going to have to do.”
And in his all-too-class way, my father-in-law had only one question: “Who’s going to shake the [bleep] out of them?” Nice.
Still, we were happy with our decision. My mother-in-law didn’t come to the diaper shower, though she did end up giving us money to get “whatever else we still needed for the baby,” which of course, we spent on diapers.
Fast forward two more months, and we had a tiny new tenant in our house. During a visit from my in-laws, he needed a diaper change. Great, I thought, let’s open that can of worms again. But something happened. While taking off his OS snap diaper, a shadow fell over my back. “That’s a diaper?” my mother-in-law asked. And I knew it then. I could convert her. I went through our stash, showing her how far cloth diapers have come since she diapered her kids in the 70s, and she seemed genuinely interested.
Two weeks later, we went to their house to introduce our son to the rest of my husband’s family. And as babies tend to do, he messed up a diaper. Getting ready to change him, I got up from the table, but my mother-in-law grabbed my son from my arms and said, “Oh I can do that.” With a confused look on my face, I made sure to tell her there were some disposables in the diaper bag. But peeking in the bedroom, I saw her cleaning him up, BumGenius in hand. And it occurred to me: if I could manage to get my beyond-stubborn mother-in-law to use cloth, there’s nothing I couldn’t do. I haven’t changed the world… yet. But believe me, I’m working on it!
BIO: Charlotte Justine Butler is a photographer from South Georgia with two amazing boys, 9 weeks and (almost) 4 years old. When she’s not busy shooting weddings, she enjoys reading and being the Robin to her son’s Batman.