There’s been a lot of discussion popping up in my newsfeed lately about the “cloth diapering community,” and unfortunately, most of it has been negative. Women who have chosen, for whatever reason, not to cloth diaper are lashing out at the community as a whole, claiming that it is “exclusive,” another way for women to “one-up” one another, or even “clique-ish…like being back in high school.”
I beg to differ.
First of all, I do not cloth diaper my children because it gains me entry into an “exclusive” club, or because I think it’s “cool.” Am I delighted to be making a choice that saves my family money, is better for my children, and makes for some adorable fluffy bums? Sure. Do I enjoy chatting with other moms, either those more experienced moms who have tried all the solutions I haven’t been through yet or new ones who need a little bit of help? I’m a stay-at-home mom. I like any adult interaction, most days. Mostly, however, I cloth diaper because they contain my son’s massively explosive poop, and I got tired of changing his clothes every time he had a messy diaper. I’m not the only one. Many moms start cloth diapering because of necessity: finances, or a child who is allergic to disposables, or a child who, like mine, could not be contained by disposable diapers.
Secondly…”exclusive”? “One-upping each other”? “Clique-ish”? Sure, there are cloth diapering moms—and therefore cloth diapering groups—that are like that. There are also groups that are filled with warm, welcoming women who are there to troubleshoot with other experienced moms, help less experienced moms, and share tips, tricks, and information on sales. Many of these places are awesome opportunities for moms who might not get out as much as working moms to interact with others, ask for opinions, and just share the fun moments in their days with someone who gets it—just like any other parenting group, be it on Facebook or in real life.
Can you cloth diaper without ever joining one of these groups? Of course! Plenty of moms are fully capable of taking off on the cloth diapering journey without ever reading more than the instructions on the package their first order of diapers comes in. They wash according to manufacturer’s instructions with no problems, have a plan in place for what to do on vacation/over the holidays/while taking long car trips, and what they don’t already know, they figure out through trial and error or through internet research.
On the other hand, message boards and Facebook groups are a great place to ask for and receive advice from been there, done that moms who have really tried these things. It’s like sitting down with your best friend, or your mom, or your aunt; attending a local group of moms; or talking to that mom on the playground who just seems to have it figured out—only without ever having to leave home. You can ask questions, give advice, and discuss issues that you may be having. There’s nothing like hearing, “Oh, yeah, we went through/are going through that, too” to reassure you that everything is normal with your baby, especially if you’re a first-time mom with no idea of what to expect.
Are there moms out there who are less than kind about their opinions? Oh, yes. There are moms filling the internet who have never buckled their children improperly into a car seat, placed a disposable diaper on their precious baby’s bum, or fed their child is much as a drop of formula, and they can’t wait to crow about it from the rooftops. Luckily, for every one of those, there are three or four others lurking in the wings, quietly offering advice when it’s asked for and keeping their judgment to themselves. They know that each mom makes the decision that’s right for her family, and that it’s not a decision that an outsider can make for her.
That’s the kind of community that’s worth searching for, the kind that’s worth holding out for, and the kind that’s worth holding on to when it is found. Many of them are small, intimate communities with moderators who will remove anyone who starts causing trouble or deliberately making others feel bad. Some of them are hidden, or secret, so that you can only join by invitation. However, they are out there. They do exist. They are not exclusive, or clique-ish, but warm, welcoming groups of moms who would love to make a new friend—because that’s what the real “cloth diapering community” is about.
Emily L. Goodman is a homeschooling mother of three (soon to be four!) from Maryville, Tennessee. She has been cloth diapering for more than eighteen months.
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