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On Parenting and Public Restrooms

To put it simply, after you have children, there are a ton of things that are lot harder to accomplish than when you were a single, childless, idiot. And the reason why were you an idiot before you had children is because you had no idea how hard life was going to become after having a baby and you took all this shit for granted. Let’s talk about some of the little things in life that used to be easy and mindless. Taking a shower, for example. Taking a shit, even. Leaving the house. See my point here?

I could go on and on about the multitude of things that are insanely difficult to do when you have children, but I’m going to stay focused here and tell you about one of the things that I have recently realized will never be quite as easy as it used to be. Here goes: Peeing in a public restroom.

Before having children, peeing in a public restroom was easy. Simple. Gross, definitely, but easy nonetheless. Before having children, the biggest challenge that I ran into in regards to public restrooms was running into a long ass line of women waiting to pee at the bar after one too many cocktails.

After Greyson was born, using a public restroom required bringing my newborn into the restroom with me, posing a multitude of unanticipated challenges. I needed to attend to his shitty diaper before even contemplating allowing myself to pee, of course. And if you are a first time parent, undressing a newborn and changing a shitty diaper is a difficult task in the privacy of your own home and even more so while under pressure in a public restroom full of judgmental old ladies and a baby screaming his head off on the changing table. After finishing up with the baby, I’d begin to attempt to find a stall large enough to accommodate both me and my monster truck sized travel system stroller so that I could finally pee (that is, if I hadn’t already half way peed my pants at this point, considering a new mother’s bladder is useless at holding pee for any length of time – just another perk of becoming a parent).

And then there’s the issue of cleanliness. If it were acceptable and safe to just slather my entire child from head to toe in hand sanitizer or to just give him a nice once over with some Clorox wipes after exiting any public restroom, I would.

I would have loved to pass diaper changing duty in a public restroom to my husband on occasion. Unfortunately, most public places are still pretty sexist and don’t even consider the fact that a man may at some point need to change a diaper, causing them to completely neglect offering a diaper changing table in a men’s restroom. Similarly, most of the trendy places we enjoyed eating dinner at prior to having children don’t offer a changing table in EITHER restroom, pretty much just stating that children aren’t welcomed in such restaurants, and causing me to change a lot of diapers in the backseat of my car during dinner (until I smartened up and just accepted that it’s probably more convenient to eat at Applebee’s for the next 12 years).

I really believed that as soon as Greyson was old enough to come into the bathroom without the stroller and maybe even use the potty himself, it’d be easier. God, I am so naïve.

The first time that I brought Grey into a public restroom without the stroller, I was relieved to be able to move a little faster and change him quickly. Here comes the hard part. When it was my turn to pee, I realized that I had no where to put him. He was about ten months old at the time and wasn’t standing confidently on his own. I sure as hell wasn’t going to just plop him on the bathroom floor. I scolded myself for not thinking this through and resorted to holding him on my lap while I peed. Just imagine that. Trying to hold a squirmy ten month old monster baby while trying to not piss all over yourself. Sigh.

Last weekend, we took Grey to the local children’s museum. My husband and I played a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors – loser gets diaper duty, which turned out to be me, of course. He’s older, it’s easier, I thought. Right? Grey followed me into the stall and I changed his diaper standing up, since he’s such a big boy now. Then, it was my turn to pee. The smart, experienced mother would have probably just walked him out to my husband and then ran back in to pee (or would have anticipated what was about to happen). But no, I decided to roll the dice on this one. Almost immediately after I sat down, Grey started shoving his hands inside the feminine product disposal box and I began screaming at him not to touch anything. After that, he tried unraveling an entire roll of toilet paper, peeked at the woman underneath the stall next to us, and flushed the toilet like three times while I was peeing. Then, I saw a light bulb turn on inside his little toddler head as he reached for the lock on the door. There was nothing I could do except jump up off the toilet and lunge for the door before my child exposed me to all of the other mothers in the bathroom. Needless to say, it was embarrassing.

And for future reference, they really should make the toilets close enough to stall door in order for mothers to keep their children from unlocking it and running away while moms are mid-pee.

Before I became a parent, I never anticipated that something so simple as using a public restroom could pose such extreme challenges. But I’m sure once he’s potty training and done wearing diapers, it will be so much easier. Right??? JUST KIDDING. I’m not that naïve. We’re totally screwed.