​​​​Because humor is funnier when you know it's true.

Cloth Diapers, Cats & Parenthood: Part One – Apopoclypse©

Fluffypuss and Peekaboo are the furry versions of the babies I woulda popped out if I’d chosen to go into parenthood instead of PR. And acting. And special ed. And blogging. My story, in a phrase, is about cloth diapers, cats and parenthood. In this three-part series, you and I will walk, hand-in-hand, through the weedy underbrush of love, loss, tragedy and comedy.

And, by journey’s end, you’ll know how I became a MOM.

My story is pathetic and, if I weren’t so desperate for attention, I wouldn’t share it. But, hey, I have no boundaries. (Pssst…cloth diapers are involved…) Once upon a time, circumstances waaaay beyond my control forced me to venture forth from my trés chic studio in Greenwich Village, NYC, and travel, via the #66 DeCamp bus line, to ‘Burbia, New Joisey, the land that time forgot.

{Director’s note: whenever you read this phrase, say it out loud in a deep and creepy voice.} Of course, I didn’t know where New Joisey was, but I figured the bus driver would. This was before me, my Self and I moved to ‘Burbia, Ct., the land that time forgot, and got a really BIG reality check.

Reality Check in ‘Burbia (before cats)
Me: “Oh, wow. I need a new toothbrush. I’ll just walk over to CVS and get one. And maybe a secondhand copy of Wuthering Heights at the Timothy Leary Bookstore on MacDougal Street.”
The Big Universe: “You can’t walk to CVS. The nearest one is 179 miles away.”
Me: “Whaaat???”
The Big U: “OK, OK. I exaggerate. The nearest CVS is three miles and you’re gonna have to drive there.”
Me: “What the f*%k?”
The Big U: “Look…remember when you married that guy, gave up your rent-stabilized studio, and bought a house in Ct? And then you actually moved in?”
Me: “Uh…Yeah…I think so…”
The Big U: “Well, so, now you live here. In ‘Burbia, Ct., the land that time forgot. Where you can NEVER go anywhere WITHOUT A CAR.”
Me: “Waaaa…”

But I digresseth.

My mission, in taking that hair-raising New Joisey bus ride, was to meet my brother’s new baby, Sir Winky Greenbean the First. And to check on his parenthood skills after five whole days of it. Even better, I extremely anticipated joining my brother and his exhausted wife in a round of Bellinis.

{Note: I did tell them to just getta cat, but they refused to listen to me.}

Anyhoohoo, as the bus journeyed through the Lincoln Tunnel from Manhattan to ‘Burbia, the land that time forgot, the air became thinner. By the time we hit the New Joisey Turnpike, I was hyperventilating so badly so the bus driver had to smack an oxygen mask on my face. Luckily, he had one in his backpack, left over from basic training at Fort Pig Bristle in the lower Meadowlands. Home to swamps and endangered species – AKA the New York Jets. “J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS!”

A Tiny Tug of Parenthood (the cloth diaper approaches)

Upon arriving at the royal estate of the aforesaid Sir Winky, and still traumatized by the trip, I brusquely greeted his mom and dad, ran upstairs, and positioned myself adjacent to the imperial bassinette. I observed a tiny, radically wrinkled, pinkish creature with huge ears and astutely concluded, “this strange little thing is either a newborn hamster or the young master about to upend his parents’ lives forever.” 

Having zilch experience with newborns, animal, vegetable or human, let alone parenthood of any ilk, I tried desperately to think of something supportive to say. Such as, “Hey, Pinky Winky! With your looks and personality, you could be a YouTube influencer.”

Establishing eye contact with the Winkster was exhausting ‘cause his eyes kept rolling around like marbles in an arcade game. So, after five minutes of fruitless staring, I decided that I’d adequately demonstrated my auntly devotion and began to exit the royal chamber. Walking backward as a commoner does in the presence of a prince, I was this close to making my escape when I detected a disturbingly pungent odor.

Not a total dummy, I recognized it as the rank smell of poop. Feeling a teensy-weensy tug of parenthood instinct, I peeked cautiously inside his lordship’s diaper. OMG quadruple-wise! There was a totally grande mélange de doo-doo, at least a level IV on the Turd-Nado Von Richter scale!

A Cloth Diaper, a Safety Pin and Hell
Now I had never ever changed a diaper. And, perhaps, I should have been thinking about cloth diapers, cats and parenthood. Yet, for reasons that, to this day, I and my 27 therapists do not understand, I declared to the Big Universe, “I and I alone shall changeth the diaper of the young Sir Winky. Stand back, doubters!”

Perhaps the Big Universe should’ve rung the bells of alarum. DING! DONG!! Or banged the drum of impending disasterization. CRASH! CRASH!! “The prince is as slippery as a clam! And you will have to change his cloth diaper with VERY SHARP SAFETY PINS!”

But even if the Big U had dumped a billion hairy toads on my head, I would not have been dissuaded.

Come heck or high water, I was gonna change Stinky Winky’s diaper, thus proving I was a normal person capable of doing maternal-type things. Instead of wasting my time going to the ballet, Broadway shows and museums. Anyhow-now-brown-cow, I managed to free the offending diaper from around Prince Winky’s slippery royal butt and dropped it into a diaper bag nearby (only then realizing it was for clean diapers). Upon fishing one out, I threw my heart and soul into securing it with safety pin numero uno.

Sadly, my hands were trembling with fear and self-doubt and, before you could say, “no shit, Sherlock,” I pierced Winky’s squishy, itty bitty butt cheek with the pin, resulting in massive screaming. By him. And me. Presto change-oh, Prince Winky became a creature weirdly reminiscent of poor deranged Golem. Tiny but mighty. And I?

Parenthood Derailed Until…the Cats

Subsequent events remain a mystery. I likely blacked out and was dragged down the stairs by my brother, bumpety-thump, bumpety-thump, tossed into a taxi, and shipped back to NYC willy nilly in complete disgrace. Whatever the aftermath, then and there I decided I would never, ever diaper a kid again. Not mine. Not yours. Not no one’s.

You see, disposable diapers didn’t exist and I didn’t know that, when Moses was taking a break atop Mount Sinai, the Big Universe handed down nannies to the Jewish people. If I’d known about nannies back when I was a brand-new aunt, and could’ve afforded one, I might’ve popped out a kid or two and had the nanny do all the work. But I didn’t know about them.

Bottom line: I swore to never be a mom. Because cloth diapers did me in. Until Fluffypuss and Peekaboo and the virginal inception of our family. In ‘Burbia, the land that time forgot.

-Amy Greenberg

Amy Greenberg lives in Connecticut with her husband, artist Don Perley, and their two girls, Fluffypuss and Peekaboo. Amy has no hobbies, but does enjoy going to therapy where she has learned that humor and her mental state are intimately connected. After earning an MA in English from NYU, she became a publicist; then acted in TV and radio commercials, summer stock, and Off Off Broadway theater. Amy also taught acting in New York City. Eventually, she earned an MS in education and taught children with developmental challenges for 20 years. When COVID cost her job, she decided to use humor to bring light to the darkness "as we all need a laff to help us stay afloat."  She is the author of "The Long Goodbye: An Affair of the Heart."  You can follow Amy on her blog, U Gotta Laff, on Twitter, and on Facebook.