Dad Buys Fancy Diaper Bag. It Doesn't Go Well.
You want to be a good dad. You really do. So you go along with the gift barrage of baby presents and ceaseless baby showers and the piles of baby hand-me-downs.
You will find yourself gratefully inundated with more neonatal gadgetry than your frazzled brain can comprehend. You will never use much of it. Wipes warmers? Bottle sterilizers for a breast-fed baby? Baby “shoes”? Receive them with thanks, while quietly hoping that one of your friends gets you that Iron Maiden onesie you wanted.
That you can use.
But there is one nugget of wisdom that I would like to impart to you, future dads-to-be, and it’s a biggie: Don’t waste money on a diaper bag.
As you’ll soon find out when you gather enough confidence to leave the house with your newborn, the diaper bag is your lifeline. Handier than Batman’s utility belt, it is a ration holder, toy carrier, waste basket, and personal coffee caddy all in one. Before your baby enters the realm of the air breathers, most folks will insist you need some sort of all-purpose mega-bag.
My wife and I bought into the hype, which is why we registered for some expensive gray man-purse complete with a cooling element, foldable changing pad, and external holsters for bottles. It was the one thing I picked out with any sense of style and purpose. It looked like the kind of bag the immaculately earthy people in the Pendleton catalog would carry around for a family excursion up a mountain.
I took it out of the house exactly once. Upon strapping it on, it didn’t feel natural. The adjusting clips dug into my shoulder blades. The fancy material made me feel paranoid about stains. (Was I really supposed to set this thing down on a sticky restaurant floor or the unisex bathroom of a grungy coffee shop?) And it had so many compartments as to make packing and unpacking an exercise in Dewey-decimal-system-style cataloging.
It was also entirely devoid of personality at a time in which I was trying to figure out what being a dad actually meant for me. Almost immediately, I wanted to burn it in the fireplace. It was too expensive though, so I tossed it in the closet, where it still resides today.
My current diaper bag? An old camouflage messenger bag I used to schlep around New York City when I was a much younger man. It’s still got an old button of a college-age Bill Clinton, as well as pins from various bands I used to have time to listen to.
Now, though, it has more interesting battle scars: unwashable baby spit-up, crushed teething crackers, a slight sour milk smell, and far too many Dora the Explorer stickers. Vamanos Boots!
It’s a nice nod to what my life used to look like, as well as a testament to the roaring, wonderful mess it has become. I may not look as perfectly disheveled as the Pendleton models, but I will be able to produce a cold bottle of water inside of 10 seconds. So what if it’s covered in crumbs and old taxi receipts…my kid won’t care. And neither do I.