“Changing diapers couldn’t be easier,” Marsha explains.

I volunteered in the Methodist nursery last Sunday. The colorful room was overrun with babies. Marsha was my team leader for the day, and the only woman with first-hand experience handling a loaded diaper.

Working in the nursery is a pretty straightforward gig. Basically, all you do is wear a nametag and wait for a baby to cry, then hold them.

Your other job—and this is an important one—is to sniff the air and locate Number Two.

Marsha is very proactive when it comes to finding Number Two. She is constantly on the lookout for Number Two. Sometimes she even interrupts adult conversations to shout, “I smell Number Two!” Then she conducts randomized diaper checks.

I get the impression that going Number Two is all babies ever do. And don’t ask me where it all comes from because during snack time, I couldn’t get any babies to eat their pureed sweet potatoes without spitting up on themselves.

But let me assure you, these kids are definitely eating when nobody’s watching. Because every kid in the room waddles as though his or her diaper contains a No. 6 bowling ball.

Before today, I hadn’t changed many diapers. As a boy, I helped change my kid sister’s diapers. But I don’t remember much about it.

All I can recall is that my mother used cloth diapers and washed them outside with a garden hose and a crucifix.

But Marsha has her finger on the pulse of today’s diaper scene, which is very different from the old days. Modern diapers are made of plastic, with ventilation systems, and color-coded accident indicators, which work sort of like mood rings.

“Changing diapers couldn’t be easier,” Marsha explains.

All you do is lay the baby down, keep the kid still, remove the kid’s recent installment, wipe the baby’s legs, sanitize the child, apply baby powder, and tag his or her ear before sending them to graze in the east pasture.

And Marsha takes things a step further. When she finishes changing diapers, she holds the baby near an oscillating fan to “air-dry” its bare cheeks.

“This helps prevent grumpy butt,” she points out.

But the worst part about diaper etiquette is all the wiping. Marsha walked me through standard wiping procedure. She used a volunteer baby named Ryan as an example. When she opened Ryan’s diaper it was a scene from the Apocalypse.

“Oh my,” she remarked. “This one’s a five-pointer for sure.”

Marsha didn’t bat an eye. She got to work. “See?” she said. “Nothing to it. I can clean butts in my sleep.”

Next, it was my turn. If you’re going to volunteer in a nursery, you can’t chicken out at the changing station. Eventually, everyone has to answer the call of the grumpy butt.

My first assignment was a case named Conrad. I’d been watching him. Conrad had been wandering the nursery all morning, laying low. All of a sudden, we noticed him standing in the corner alone.

“That’s a sure-fire giveaway,” said Marsha, “when they go off by themselves.”

Conrad was wearing a thoughtful frown and looked as though he were composing poetry.

I placed Conrad onto the table. I braced myself. When I opened his diaper I blacked out.

So Marsha took over my job. A few minutes later, she also had to help me through a minor bout of PTSD.

But get this, after eight minutes between diaper changes, Conrad was back. He approached us with urgent news.

He said, “POOBOO!”

Marsha said, “What’d you say, sweetie?”


“Did you number two AGAIN, Conrad?”

Marsha tugged the waistband of Conrad’s diaper and sniffed. When we opened him up, it was bad. One volunteer fainted, and two nursery workers decided to become Presbyterian.

But I did a lot more than diapers. What I enjoyed most about nursery duty was holding babies. I haven’t rocked many babies to sleep before. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing.

Marsha handed me a fussy child named Alecia who wouldn’t stop crying until she hit my arms, then she fell asleep.

And I was fifteen feet tall.

I walked in circles, holding her against my chest. And it felt like the most important thing I have ever done in my life.

When church was over, parents retrieved their kids. They presented tickets to volunteers in exchange for their children.

Alecia’s parents arrived, I handed her to them. I hated to say goodbye. The girl looked at me with big eyes and a huge smile. She touched my face and I melted.

I have no children. Nobody will ever call me Daddy. So a baby’s smile does something to me.

“POOBOO!” said Alecia. Then she grit her teeth and grunted.

“Uh oh,” said Alecia’s father.

But Marsha was already swinging into action. She sniffed the diaper. She confiscated the baby.

“Good Lord,” Marsha said, “this is ten pounds of baby in a five-pound bag, someone plug in the fan.”

Life is short. Be on the lookout for Number Two.


  1. Jan - July 13, 2019 7:12 am

    This was hysterical! They need to sign you up for regular duty. You’re on to something. How about a monthly installment from Sean’s nursery duty?

  2. Melanie - July 13, 2019 8:54 am

    Omg I’m dyin ???????????

  3. Carolyn - July 13, 2019 10:04 am


  4. Naomi - July 13, 2019 10:27 am

    I used to keep my grandchildren and my 3 nephews when they were babies. I used to take them to a nearby theater that had a children’s movie, popcorn and a coke for $1. However, one of my grandsons was too young and it was his nap time so I left him with my husband (his grandfather). I thought that our grandson would still be napping by the time we got home but when I got home, he was in the wading pool in the back yard. I asked my husband why he was in the wading pool. He told me that he had a full diaper so he took him outside, took off his diaper, hosed him off with the garden hose and put him in the wading pool. Thank goodness it was summer.

  5. Marilyn - July 13, 2019 10:41 am

    Thank you for the funny post this morning! You do have a way with words. 🙂

  6. Lucretia - July 13, 2019 10:41 am

    On pointe, Sean!!! As a mother of 9 children, now all grown, and a grandmother of 21 grandchildren, I so enjoyed your accurate portrayal of these types of events!!! I smiled, laughed and was there with you in the nursery. What an amazing person you are. Thank you again for multiplying your talent.

  7. D B - July 13, 2019 11:22 am

    Oh Sean, you make me want to rock a baby to sleep! Nothing in the world like it.?

  8. George - July 13, 2019 11:44 am

    I can’t stop laughing!

  9. Mitford Fontaine - July 13, 2019 12:24 pm

    Dang, that’s just plain funny.

  10. Shelton A. - July 13, 2019 1:01 pm

    Hilarious! With my first child, all we knew was how to change her so when we got her home from the hospital, we did that and then wondered what to do next. The wise nurse who told us we’d figure it out was wrong-we were clueless. The baby grew up and out of diapers (thank God), and is now well on her way to finishing nursing school. Pediatric oncology is what she wants to do…

  11. Shelton A. - July 13, 2019 1:02 pm

    p.s.-you’re a brave man, Sean!

  12. Butch Veazey - July 13, 2019 1:10 pm

    “El Grande” and “Ooper Dooper Pooper” Fatherhood – It’s more than just a job, it’s a “Doody”….

    • marilu - August 6, 2019 1:44 pm


  13. Steve - July 13, 2019 1:17 pm


  14. Donna - July 13, 2019 1:17 pm

    Hilarious! Whoots for Marsha 😀

  15. Joe Patterson - July 13, 2019 1:41 pm

    Holding babies is a wonderful blessing I remember when my last one was little I would come home from work my wife was worn out and the baby would be fussy she would had her to me and she would always calm down because the minute I got her in my arms I was the king of the world and all the problems of the day were gone She knew it too Thanks for all your stories so much truth in all of them

  16. Marge - July 13, 2019 1:42 pm

    Laughing out loud first thing in my morning! What a grand way to start my day…thank you!

  17. Tim House - July 13, 2019 2:35 pm

    Hilarious bit! Brings back memories, and not necessarily good ones. 😉 Definitely a Southern Church, though!

  18. Georgia Lee - July 13, 2019 2:46 pm

    You are so entertaining. Thank you for sharing your stories. Brings back fond memories.??

  19. Dan - July 13, 2019 3:11 pm

    I always read Sean with my breakfast and coffee. This funny gem made breakfast interesting

  20. Time Keeper - July 13, 2019 3:28 pm

    Its definitely a deeply personal thing and a choice not to be made by others, but I believe with all my heart that there is a child, who like you and me who didn’t get what we wanted and needed through no fault of our own, that would praise God daily for a father like you and a Mama like Jamie.

    Also, never check a diaper by running your finger in there!

  21. Lex - July 13, 2019 3:46 pm

    My husband read this aloud to me this morning while I ate my breakfast. We both were laughing so hard tears were streaming down both of our faces. Loved that you can make me laugh hysterically and melt my heart all in one essay. BTW…loved. loved, loved Stars of Alabama! Read it on the beach in Blue Mountain just two weeks ago. Sharing it will all of my friends.

  22. Linda Moon - July 13, 2019 3:50 pm

    Outside line-hanging = stiff diapers. Maybe the crucifix helped soften them up. (Jesus does that, you know, softens us up when necessary). This post was only made readable for me because of my third cup of coffee. It gave me enough stamina to recall my own babies’ cloth diapers and contents from long ago. Life is VERY short, my friend. How I would love to hold those babies in my arms again!!

  23. Jack Darnell - July 13, 2019 5:30 pm

    The dirty diapers are a breeze, it is the golden showers by the boys that will touch a nerve of embarrassment! LOL

    But well worth the time of taking care of the babies…

  24. Carol Miller - July 13, 2019 6:03 pm

    Such great laughs you have given me today

  25. Anthony - July 13, 2019 6:08 pm

    You just reduced the number of nursery volunteers at my church by fifty percent.

  26. Jackie - July 13, 2019 6:38 pm

    Babies are wonderful and so beautiful!! Even when they have poopie diapers! You make us feel like we’re in the nursery with you. You have a wonderful way with your words – makes us feel like we’re part of the story. Keep making us smile, laugh and cry!

  27. Susan Kennedy - July 13, 2019 9:00 pm

    As a long time volunteer in the baby nursery at church I could almost smell #2 from here. ??

  28. stuart - July 14, 2019 3:17 am


    Shouldn’t the babies be in mama’s arms instead of a stranger’s arms?

    Who made the rule that there should be no babies in church? Strangers raising other folks kids (daycare) is one of society’s ills.

    Have the people tending the babies reached the point where they don’t need to hear preaching?

    Think about it.

    • theholtgirls - July 14, 2019 4:05 am


      I understand your points, but…

      Sometimes, a mama’s arms are made stronger for her task (168 hours, 24/7) when a Marsha volunteers to hold her baby for 1 or 2 hours.

      Sometimes, a volunteer’s life is made richer forever when a mama lets them hold her baby for 1 or 2 hours.

      This is not strange. This is love.

      For the record, I am a mom of 3, wore and nursed each of my babies in a sling (everywhere) until they were 2, homeschooled 2 through graduation (have 1 left), and still spend time with my “babies.” I appreciate the volunteers who have loved on my littles, giving me the occasional opportunity to attend a Bible Study with my husband.

  29. Janet Mary Lee - July 14, 2019 4:36 am

    Been a while since I laughed this hard!! I really lost it at the instructions that were so normal, and then picturing you tagging their ears and heading them to pasture!!! Just priceless!!! I just love how your mind works!!!!

  30. Mary Lee - July 14, 2019 5:07 am

    Well it is 1 AM here in Savannah, GA and I always read your writings when I go to bed. Things have been rough for me lately but I have been laughing for the last 15 minutes after reading this one. I actually read it over three times. Hysterical! I love everything you write but never have had the reaction I had after reading this one.

    Thank you for all that you do in keeping this old white haired woman, and I’m sure many, many more from being depressed..,

    • Martha Black - August 6, 2019 2:52 pm

      Exactly right! I can empathize with you. I look forward to Sea`s post every night. When I was still working I longed for the days i could retire and stay up late. Now at 65 and alone, I would tell myself from long ago, bite your tongue. Im up at such ridiculous hours sometimes i check to see if I’m developing fangs for fear of becoming a vampire. My family thinks, I’ve always been a bat anyway.

  31. MaryJane Breaux - July 14, 2019 2:20 pm

    Familiar experiences in the Nursery, and though she be but little, she is fierce! ? they are precious!

  32. Kathryn - August 6, 2019 1:02 pm

    Oh gosh! I’m laughing so hard, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. “Conrad was wearing a thoughtful frown and looked as though he were composing poetry.” I’ve SEEN that look! This is hilarious! Thanks for the morning laugh! I needed that!

  33. Kathryn - August 6, 2019 1:07 pm

    Oh, and Stuart obviously hasn’t spent much time with infants. Can you imagine all these babies in a service needing their No. 2 diapers changed? The sanctuary would smell like a barnyard. Lighten up Stuart. Jesus would put the babies in the nursery.

  34. Debo - August 6, 2019 1:31 pm


  35. Martha Black - August 6, 2019 2:46 pm

    Oh I wish you could be a daddy. You would be wonderful at it. But I’ll just be your old granny baby. If only I could doftly touch your face.

  36. G. D Blaine FB - June 4, 2021 9:23 pm

    Holding a crying toddler while cross legged on the floor for a church service is a test. The wee one calmed down sleeping till mom arrived. I had to be peeled from the floor and get circulation back in my legs. Another exquisitely dressed toddler waited patiently until mom exited the room to deposit her number two. Nursery workers are angels .

  37. Dru Brown - June 5, 2021 3:43 am

    The composing poetry line put me out of commission for ten minutes! 👏


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