“Mums deserve better than this!”
That’s the last thing I remember thinking before storming out of the cafe that morning.
I was crying. My twins were crying. And if my words were delivered with the vigour and intensity I had intended, then the barista was crying too.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The day started off like any other day
My kids woke up earlier than I wanted them to. They watched Bluey for less time than I needed them to. And we were out the door for our morning walk much earlier than any human should be out in public without a cup of coffee.
I remember being in a really good mood that Sunday morning. My boy-girl twins were distracted by new sunnies and I was about to try a new cafe that had just opened in my neighbourhood.
I arrived right when it opened – perks of having very small children – and picked a spot in the very back. I ordered a coffee and pulled out an activity bag to keep the twins distracted. Everything was perfectly normal on this perfectly fine Sunday morning. Then my son took a perfectly massive shit.
“I’ve got this,” I said to myself. “You’ve changed millions of nappies before. In fact, a quarter of said nappies were changed in public spaces. You’re not only to do this well, you’re going to own this nappy change.”
I grabbed the nappy bag, unbuckled both kids from their highchairs, and walked them over to the bathroom. But, as is common in most public places, the men’s bathroom didn’t have a changing table in it. Not so perfect.
He said, she said
I headed back to the front of the cafe and asked the barista for help.
“Sorry, it’s in the women’s bathroom,” she said politely. “Your wife will have to take them.”
“I don’t have a wife,” I replied quite bluntly.
“I”m, I’m, I’m, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. I’ll just go into the women’s bathroom?”
“No, no, no. That can’t happen, sorry.”
*rolls up sleeves and prepares for battle*
“I don’t really have another choice. What should I do?”
“Maybe try another place?”
“But I’m a customer here. I kind of need you to figure out a solution.”
“I”m not used to this problem”.
“I know, but can’t you just watch the door while I jump in and quickly change him quickly?”
“We too busy for me to leave, sir.”
Please don’t cry
I didn’t want to be this rude, but I was sick of being stuck in this situation. I decided it was probably best for me to pick up my stuff and walk out of the cafe.
My first thought: Please don’t cry in front of all these people.
My second: I really needed that coffee.
And most importantly, my third: mums deserve better than this.
The truth is, I was really sad.
Sad that I wasn’t able to handle my cool in front of my children. Sad that I didn’t have a wife. And sad that men aren’t allowed to support their partners in public spaces.
That was the thing that really struck me. This isn’t just a dad’s issues anymore. Most men don’t care as much as I do about this subject, so women really need to.
When a men’s bathroom doesn’t have a changing table in it, the restaurant or theatre is telling you that you have no choice but to deal with your kids on your own. That your partner, who most likely changes fewer nappies then you, can take a break while you’re forced to do the dirty work.
And that is, in my professional opinion, a load of bullshit.
We need to make sure dads have the facilities to play an active role in parenting, allowing them to be involved in diaper duty at all times. This will put less pressure and perceived expectations on mums.
Anything less is simply archaic.