As a mass transit commuter, I got a tough lesson on traveling with two children that I never experienced before. I also know that this is all to frequent for parents.
I had two sleeping children; one in my arms, and the other in the stroller. I chose to not use the double stroller today, because it is much harder to fold, and would delay everyone while a busload of people will be waiting for me to get on. On our way back home, we were boarding a very empty bus when the driver yells out “You need to close the stroller,” before I could even address him.
I know the rules and was by no means trying to break them, but when you’re schlepping two sleeping children, a backpack, and a small bag, all you would like is a little compassion. I responded, “They’re both sleeping and it’s difficult to wake them both up to fold the stroller.” He responded harshly, “That’s the rule.” In the same breath, he said that he will ask his supervisor who was nearby.
That moment made me feel so small, insignificant and pretty much at the mercy of a stranger who could determine whether I could be left on an isolated sidewalk in the middle of Queens, NY. After a few minutes, he returned with his supervisor to say it was okay, and I would just need to have the stroller locked, which it was already, and hold onto it. I said thank you, and we were on our way.
While sitting there, I kept thinking, would it be so hard for the MTA to make accommodations for parents traveling with children? Does it have to be so hard to commute with multiple children, and both happen to fall asleep? How is this still such an issue in 2020 that parents, primarily mothers are not treated with respect when traveling with young children? I had to ask myself, how can a system not care when all parents are trying to do is get about their daily lives with their children?
Other countries have figured out ways to make this work, yet here we are. New York City has tried to take agressive approaches to reduce driving, but has not changed one of the rules that make new parents resign from using mass transit, therefore increasing the number of new cars on the streets.
It can be a nightmare using public transportation especially if you’re traveling alone and praying that both of your children do not fall asleep at the same time. I guess we need more mothers and thoughtful parents on the MTA board, because here I am, another mother having an experience that no parent should have, especially on an empty bus during off peak hours.
I had no idea what I would do if the supervisor disagreed. Even worse, if I had to get a cab, how much it would cost me? What if I were to be left there alone and harm came my way? All of this over an open stroller. I wasn’t convinced that I needed a car, but I will be one of these people resigning from mass transit in the near future.
As the week begins, I send you love and light. For all the parents enduring in the times of COVID-19, I pray you receive compassion. Take time to breathe.
If you’re a parent who has had a similar experience, share your story. Let a little steam off.
(Photo from Getty Images)