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An Open Letter To Pharrell Williams Who Says He Never Changes His Triplets' Diapers

Photograph by Getty Images

Dear Pharrell,

First of all, congrats on your triplets! Talk about a full house. I’ll spare you the inevitable “Happy” jokes, but I’m sure you couldn’t be happier. But here’s the deal Pharrell, I was pretty bummed out when you revealed in an interview that you never change any of your babies' diapers.

You were graciously reverential to you wife and her ability to handle all the chaos that comes with birthing and raising three newborns at one time. And you admit to having some, “amazing” people to help. But you still admit that diaper changing time—and I assume that's pretty much all day, every day with newborn triplets—is “serious.”

So here’s why that bummed me out. And, it’s probably not for the reason you think it would bum another mom out.

When I had my first child, I was surprised, disappointed, and maybe a bit naïve as to a dad’s ability to opt in and out of certain parts of parenting. There were things that I as the mom had to do, like breastfeed.

But there also seemed to be things regarding the birth of our son that my husband just didn’t do. Like you, my husband is a kind and loving, and a really good dad. But from my vantage point buried under swaddling blankets, bottle sanitizers, and piles and piles of diapers, he could check in and out of whatever parts of parenting he wanted to. Which as a new mom, made me feel like he was checking in and out of me.

See Pharrell, it seems to me that new dads don’t often think of the other part of their job as a new dad, which is to be a partner to their children’s mom. You and your wife probably have an endless cadre of nannies, baby nurses, assistants, and babysitters on call, there to help whenever they are needed. I pass no judgment on that. I get it.

So while changing diapers may seem like a little thing that your wife or staff can do, the little parts of parenting are where you can show up and show your wife that you are truly partners in parenting.

And unlike a lot of preachy parents, I don’t believe you can’t bond with your children in your own way, on your own time. I firmly believe that newborns need kind, loving hands to care for and to feed them—and those kind, loving hands don’t always have to be Mom and Dad's hands every minute of every day.

But motherhood, especially new motherhood, can be one of the loneliest times in a woman’s life. She is joyous, grateful, and yet often by herself with a newborn (or three) under a pile of diapers, digging her way out emotionally and physically

Her connection to her babies is instant, and sometimes different from Dad’s. She often doesn’t feel like she can—or should— opt in or out of certain parts of parenting, even if she has the amazing staff you have to help or pick up the slack.

And I can tell you from firsthand experience, that the one person you need more than a good nanny or assistant when you first become a mom is your partner. You don’t have to diaper your triplets simply so you can say you did. You should do it so your wife knows she isn't alone in this overwhelming, awe-inspiring, sleep-depriving experience known as new parenthood.

So while changing diapers may seem like a little thing that your wife or staff can do, the little parts of parenting are where you can show up and show your wife that you are truly partners in parenting. Because when that nanny doesn’t show up, or that baby nurse calls in sick, it’s going to be your wife, not you, who is the parent by default. She's the one who's going to be scrambling and exhausted while still recovering from childbirth. And the one thing you can do to help is to show up, and show her that you're there for the kids.

And more importantly, that you're there for her.

So to you Pharrell, and any new dad, don’t mistake seemingly inconsequential tasks like diapering your kids as moments that don’t matter in their lives. They may not matter to your babies, but they’ll matter to their mom. And everyone knows that a happy mom makes a happy household.

And no one knows more about being happy than you.

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