I've wrote before about life's invisible work, those acts of mothering that are unremarkable, everyday. We do them all day long and don't think too much about them. Nothing super important...unless you count the care and attention to your baby's thriving and good health as important. ;-) I was reminded of another example of life's invisible work recently: the search for a changing table when you have a baby.
I visited Northgate Mall in Durham yesterday in search of a watch battery. While the kind people at Shama Jewelry were changing the battery, I headed to the bathroom. I found them closeby, near the food court. There were two, both labeled "family restroom" and while I didn't have Elisabeth with me, there was no one waiting so it didn't feel like a big deal. The only real difference is that those restrooms have changing tables. Well, they're supposed to.
We've all been here, right? You have to pee but you also know your baby needs to be changed. Finally, a sign that says "yes, both can happen here," and then you open the door.
I didn't have a wet or stinky baby with me but I was still angry! How in the world is this okay?
Moms have enough to deal with.
Even if this "removal" just happened, it should be dealt with in a more compassionate way. How about a notice on the door as a heads-up? How about a sign or apology where the changing table was, explaining what had happened? Something, anything, other...than just an angry cloud of frustration and disappointment.
What's that saying? You're not paranoid; everyone is out to get you. Haha. Though between the stress of traveling with breastmilk or a pump and the "little" things not being able to count on even a changing table in a "family" restroom, it does feel like moms are sometimes treated like second class citizens in our world. We are generally the ones keeping the future leaders of the world safe, productive and happy, aren't we? Seems like moms could at least merit a sign on a door.
I'll call Northgate. And maybe this will be fixed. Sometimes, though, it's less about the end result and more about using our voice. Because moms do merit a sign on the door. But if we don't speak up about that, even though it's obvious, it's unlikely ever to change. Sure, your boss may just decide to give you a raise but you're more likely to get one if you make the case for one and actually ask for one. If this feels uncomfortable, you're not alone. It's hard to ask for what we deserve. (Although it's often easier if we ask on behalf of our child or someone else). But a public bathroom is as good a vessel as any for turning on that public voice that deserves to be heard and heeded. Your voice matters.
Stay tuned. Thanks for reading.
PS. If this article resonates with you, I hope you'll share it! And if you're a mom of a toddler, I invite you to join my Toddler Group starting in December. Voice, identity and self-care will all be themes of that 3 month group.