When my second daughter, Ava, was born, I already had Lucía.
My late husband had just started a new job and wasn’t around as much for the second child.
Justin was actually a very supportive and loving husband and father. He would help a lot with the feedings, diaper changes, and cleaning that is required with a new baby.
But when the second baby came, and maybe some of you can relate, he thought I pretty much had the whole “baby thing” thing under control because, after all, I had done this once before.
But he didn’t take into account that I was also dealing with a toddler.
He stopped waking up for the midnight feedings. He seemed to not help as much with the chores and he didn’t help as much with the diaper changing.
One day I was having an atomically crappy day. One of those days where everything seemed to be going wrong and I was at my wits end.
Justin had just gotten home from work and I was cooking dinner and baby Ava needed a diaper change.
Her diaper was heavy with pee.
I had not had a chance between running after my toddler and making dinner to change the diaper. She seemed to be enjoying herself, but that did not dismiss the fact that her diaper was really, REALLY full.
So I asked Justin if he would do it. To which he quickly replied that he had just gotten off work…and was tired.
I stood there and stared at him in frustration.
I stopped making dinner, I walked over to the baby, changed her diaper and looked up at my husband, who had began telling me all about his day and, well….
my anger got the better of me.
This is the kind of anger that begins to rise, beginning at your toes and rising all the way up until it reaches your head and then, it just kind of pops out.
So without thinking, I hurled that very full diaper that I had in my hand at my husband.
I felt bad as soon as it left my hand, but what happened next was surprising.
If you haven’t purchased diapers in a while, or you have never had to deal with diapers, you might not know that on the inside of a diaper there are these tiny little gel crystals that hold a large quantities of water. They expand and prevent the diaper from leaking.
Remember how I told you that the diaper was really full?
Well, as the diaper flew through the air, it EXPLODED.
All of those beads flew out like popcorn all over the wall, the floor, the ceiling, all over Justin, his face, and most impressively, his beard.
Everything was covered in my exploded exhaustion, anger, and baby pee.
And because it was gel, they stuck.
In the last year, our university has had to have some really hard conversations about race, about who we are as individuals, about who we are as a community.
And now, we’re still in a pandemic and still talking about these things.
For some of you, these might be welcome conversations.
For others, these conversations might feel like you feel after you’ve worked out after having not worked out in years.
You might feel strained. Agitated. Tired.
For a lot of us though, these conversations are conversations that are long past due.
In the two years that I have been at this university, I have heard from countless Black, African American, Brown, Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous People of Color on this campus about experiences they have had regarding racism.
I have also personally experienced instances of racism first hand.
People of Color on the California Lutheran University campus are tired. It has moved from our toes, through our whole bodies, and now it sits in our hearts.
It is hard because we love this campus. However, generationally, we have experienced countless amounts of trauma and injustice already. We just want our communities to hear us and see us.
And well, we haven’t felt seen, or heard.
In this last year, it’s sort of felt like the baby’s diaper was flung at the wall and we are FINALLY beginning to look at all the little beads of pee that are now stuck to ourselves.
Our circumstances have led to things being revealed that are traumatic.
And often it can feel like this big sticky mess that has exploded onto the walls, our bodies, and all the surfaces.
And you know what?
It is a mess.
In many ways.
But there’s tension in holding one another accountable and holding one another with grace so that we can continue to do the work of healing and restoration and then transformation.
That day when I threw the diaper, I spent an incredible amount of time trying to find all the gunky sticky balls of pee.
And you know what? I didn’t find them all.
Days, months would pass and I would be sitting on the couch and look up at the ceiling or on a piece of art and find I had not done all the work that needed to be done in order to properly clean it up.
I don’t want that for our campus.
I do not want that for our students.
I do not want that for our faculty, or our staff.
I do not want that for me.
I want us to be the kind of people, the kind of university, that deals with the dirty diaper before we’re even asked to because it needed changing a long time ago.
I don’t want us to ignore and make excuses and allow the diaper to continue to get so full that it explodes over everything and everyone and we’re all literally covered in it.
Because frankly, that’s where we’re at right now.
As we prepare to start a new school year, as we continue to try and figure out how we are going to teach, learn, be in community with each other, be a partner, a parent, a friend in a pandemic, I invite you to think about these questions:
In thinking about babies and diapers and the world today,
Who is it that you want to be as colleagues with each other?
Who is it you want this university to be?
What are you going to do to strive to be that kind of community?