My manhood hinges apparently on the type of diaper bag I carry around.
This revelation became clear when I was recently looking to buy this all-important bag, which is meant to hold everything a parent needs for their infant when away from home including, but not at all limited to, extra diapers.
Let me preface this by saying that as a new father I have more than willingly undertaken a number of activities that one could see in some measure as emasculating or adolescent. I have, for example, given good thought to whether our daughter should wear hose with certain outfits. I now see no problem going into baby talk or making silly faces anywhere and anytime. I also, ahem, seem to be fine with regularly writing about babies. All this, I feel, is hard evidence I’m taking this fatherhood thing in stride.
But I apparently have issues with diaper bags. While surveying the market for this product, I followed a hot tip and found a website selling baby gear designed especially for dads. The diaper bags they sold turned out to be everything I could dream of in such gear.
The bags were hefty and rugged, with wide flaps, bold zippers and loads of compartments. There were a bunch of different styles to choose from and each had a cool name, like “DudePack”. The bags came in tough colours like camouflage, with kick-ass skull-and-bone or dragon emblems if wanted.
In an online product demo clip, which I watched several times, the company showed that one of their latest bags – called “Green Dude” – had a checklist imprinted permanently on the material reminding users what items to make sure to pack.
I found this not the least bit condescending. Instead, this company had ticked all the diaper bag criteria boxes I didn’t even know I had. I told myself I’d be damned if I’m going to carry around diapers in any bag of a colour that didn’t blend undetectably into a jungle background and which didn’t tell me what to put in it.
Just to be 100% sure that I was making the right choice, my wife and I decided just as mere formality to look at some of the more conventional diaper bags you see around aimed not just at male parents.
We discovered these had essentially all the same features, excluding certain style elements, as the guy-targeted bags and were about half the price. Some of them even looked kind of rugged and came in camo too. Critically, one of the companies selling these more run-of-the-mill looking bags delivered overnight.
In the end, it was logistics that forced our hand. We prioritized fast delivery and so we ended up buying the more conventional bag. It’s grey, with magnets to close up compartments instead of zippers. No dragon insignia.
I’ve come to terms with the decision. We got what we needed and saved a little money.
But seeing the bag in actuality rather than virtually revealed that it may have a more feminine look than first thought. I noticed there’s no messenger bag-like flap cover at the bag opening that in my mind clearly separates unisex bags from, say, purses. It’s also not immediately evident if the bag strap is long enough to go over my head and across my body, courier-style. When it’s not hanging from the stroller, I might have to carry the bag over just one shoulder, purse-style.
I’m not sure how all this is going to go. On one hand, I guess a diaper bag doesn’t completely define a person. Other factors in the end may weigh in too. On the other hand, though, I fear I might always wonder what kind of man I could have become if we hadn’t prioritized speedy delivery.