Since entering the world of cloth diapers a few months ago, I have heard people give four main reasons why they cloth diaper: to save money, to save their baby’s bum, to save the world, and for the undeniable cuteness factor. These are all great reasons for choosing cloth! When a friend or family member asks me why I’m cloth diapering my three month old, I tell them I started to save money and stayed for the cuteness. But there’s another reason I cloth diaper that I don’t really talk about and haven’t heard others talk about either: nostalgia.
The truth is, cloth diapering appealed to me because it’s how my mom diapered me, how my grandma diapered my mom, and on and on, back through the generations. As much as I love the many conveniences of the twenty-first century (you’ll have to pry my car keys, cell phone, and flat iron out of my cold, dead hands), I’m pretty old school in a lot of ways. I quilt like my grandma and great-grandma did. I have a vegetable garden and can and freeze just like my mom did when I was growing up. I like the continuity and connectedness of doing things the same way my family has done them for generations and passing those things down to the next generation.
Maybe feeling this way is a result of my farm heritage, where fathers pass the land down to their sons, and children grow up in the same house where their great-grandparents raised their kids. Regardless of the reason, there’s something that just feels right about diapering my daughter the same way my mom diapered me. (Okay, so it’s not exactly the same. My bumGenius pockets are a far cry from the prefolds and plastic pants my mom used, but you know what I mean).
When I wrap my little girl’s bum in cloth I feel deeply connected to the women who have come before me. Motherhood has changed in some ways over the years. I recently talked with my grandma about how she didn’t have car seats when she was raising her six kids. (Did she just hold the baby? What if she and the baby were the only ones in the car and she had to drive? Did she just lay the baby on the seat?) When my mom was raising my brother and sister and me, she didn’t have a swing or activity gym or pack n’ play or breast pump, all of which are practically considered necessities today. But some parts of motherhood have stayed the same – the excitement at each of your baby’s firsts, the exhaustion of sleepless nights, and the joy you feel when your baby smiles up at you.
And for those of us who choose cloth diapers? That’s something that has stayed the same too, which I think is a beautiful thing.
Emily is a stay-at-home mom to a three month old baby girl. She enjoys reading, gardening, quilting, and spending time online picking out the hundreds of adorable cloth diapers she would buy her daughter if she hadn’t promised her husband that cloth diapering would save money.