I don’t care for public washrooms.
Actually I despise them, so I avoid them whenever I can. Of course, that’s had to change since I’ve had kids. Between the two of them, I seem to be on some sort of North America Public Washroom Tour.
While I’ve reluctantly accepted this as a fact of (my) life now, one part still makes me turn up nose at public facilities.
As a dad, I’ve often felt that I’m an afterthought when it comes to how men’s washrooms are designed. On far too many occasions, I’ve walked into a washroom and walked out because they is no place to change a baby.
That might not sound like a big deal, but picture being out for a whole day or on a road trip by yourself without a reasonable place to change a baby. Yikes.
I think this speaks to a more significant issue. One that I have a big problem with and that’s the perception of dads as secondary care-givers.
Historically, maybe we deserve this label. As a stay-at-home dad today though, I think it’s time to acknowledge times have changed.
It isn’t always easy to call someone on daddy-discrimination. Like a lot of the discrimination women have faced over the years – it can be subtle. Like when our former daycare talked about ‘serious’ kid issues (like my son’s need to bite other kids) with my wife, even if I had been at the daycare first. Or the children’s clothing consignment shop that was perplexed with I put my name on the account (it actually seems as though the computer wouldn’t accept a man’s name).
When we make assumptions – like mom changes the diapers, dad changes the oil – it makes my job as a caregiver that much more difficult.
So what to do?
While I realize that complaining to the manager in each and every establishment with daddy-unfriendly washrooms isn’t likely to result in an immediate renovation I’m not completely powerless.
So here’s the plan: start at a quiet (bathroom) revolution – at home. Show my kids that their are no ‘mom’ or ‘dad jobs’. We have a household to run and when things need to get done either parent is capable of doing just about anything. In leading by example, I’m hoping to move the needle with the next generation of business owners, architects and ‘washroom designers’ of the world.
Leading by example and trusting that to spread is my plan. Maybe by the time my son is a grown man and on his own North America Public Washroom Tour, the world will have changed its tune.