Normal is a very odd thing.
A friend did me the honour of leaving her three month old in my care this week. Change time arrived… and I couldn’t put her nappy on.
I work for a nappy business. I have three children, including a toddler in nappies. This should not have been weird.
But this teeny female, with her fragile, moving legs, in her odd little paper nappy that looked like it would rip if I was too rough – nope. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I asked my husband where I was going wrong. He remembered that you have to make sure the frilly bits aren’t tucked in (eh?); after much staring and tweaking we eventually worked out I’d got it too low at the back.
Why was it all so weird and complicated? Because this isn’t our normal.
Normal does two things. Our own ‘normal’ becomes easy and straightforward – quite simply, we’re practised at it and we’re used to it. It’s habit. The ‘other’ way is unknown, so it’s harder and far more challenging.
The other thing about normal is that because it’s familiar, we usually just accept it without questioning it. It’s just the way things are. In the 80s, whoever considered that seat belts were pretty important? Or that equal rights based on sexual orientation might be a good idea? Or that single use plastic bags might not be so cool?
I drive an electric car, and recently borrowed a petrol car for a few days. For years and years, I have ‘filled up’ without thinking about it. Now? The idea of taking a fossil fuel and shoving it in a vehicle seemed ridiculous. I felt like I was guilty of the most absurd piece of single-use wastage imaginable. I was embarrassed to do it, and I wanted to stand on the pumps and shout “This is insane! Why are we doing this when there is a perfectly good alternative!”
My normal has changed. I see things differently, and now question what I previously didn’t think twice about. (Including manual gears. What is that all about?)
If you use single use nappies then ‘normal’ is putting poo in the bin. The idea of putting a dirty nappy in the washing machine is alien – so it can seem gross, absurd… just wrong.
And yet parents who use reusable nappies have a different normal. They’ll tell you that the idea of putting a stinky nappy in the bin seems grim. That you wouldn’t put your own poo in the bin, so why would you put your child’s waste in there? That the bin will smell, that it will attract flies, that the poo will be transported by some poor bin collector to be burnt, or to mummify in landfill.
For a parent whose normal is reusables, putting poo in the bin can seem gross, absurd…. just wrong.
A lot of people are put off using reusable nappies because of ‘what to do with the poo’. But just like everything else, changing a reusable nappy quickly becomes your normal.
Not right, not wrong…just normal.