Do you know what's worse than babies with blowout diapers? Not having a safe place to change them.
The lack of changing stations is a struggle for moms as well, but I'm here to share the fatherhood side of the story. And as a dad with two young kids under the age of 5, I know this all too well.
I remember taking my 2-year-old daughter out to lunch while my wife and our oldest daughter enjoyed a mani-pedi day.
This particular establishment had a great kid's menu, and my daughter was enjoying herself immensely. But then it happened.
My non-potty trained 2-year-old looked up at me and said, "Daddy, I have poo-poo."
"No problem, I got this," I smiled. Off to the men's restroom we went.
No changing station in sight.
"Well, maybe they have a family restroom instead," I thought.
Nope, they didn't.
At that point, my kid was quite fragrant. I was about to call Terry Crews to handle the intense odor if I couldn't find a place to change her ASAP.
Finally, I asked an employee if a changing station existed anywhere in the restaurant.
"Yes, we have one in the women's restroom," she replied.
"I need to change my daughter's diaper," I said. "Can I go in there (the women's restroom)?" She left to ask the manager, and instead of waiting, I just paid our bill and changed her in the backseat of my SUV.
This diaper crisis isn't new to fathers.
One celebrity dad ranted about it recently, and other everyday dads like me deal with this on a daily basis.
We can do better.
Here are three simple reasons why we need to change the whole men's room diaper setup.
1. It's sexist.
First, let's identify the real enemy here.
If an establishment chooses not to have any changing stations in their restrooms, that's 100% fine by me. Although I'm a parent, I'm not naive enough to believe every business needs to be kid-friendly. Heck, when I have a rare "grown folks only" moment, there are places I enjoy visiting just because they don't cater to children.
The source of my ire stems from the businesses that consciously decide to add changing stations in women's restrooms but don't do the same in the men's restrooms.
We're not just talking about businesses that were built in the 1950s, either. Many of them are brand spanking new and still have no place for dads to change their kids' diapers. It sends the damaging message that it's women's work, and that couldn't be further from the truth.
Can you imagine what the meetings must've been like when the decisions were being made to put changing stations in women's restrooms only?
What about single dads? Gay dads? Dads who are out by themselves and have no choice but to change their babies on the grimy public restroom floor? This happens a lot.
Moms don't like it either. Nonsense like this sets them back 50 years. Enough is enough.
2. It's a really bad look for business owners.
Again, we're not talking about the businesses who unapologetically choose not to cater to children. We're talking about the ones like the restaurant I visited that had a kid's menu but no changing station available for dads to handle diaper business.
Don't be surprised if the government gets involved. It happened recently in California with the Potty Parity for Parents Act championed by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat. The 2014 bill required a changing stations in men's restrooms if stations existed in adjacent women's restrooms. At the very least, family restrooms needed to be accessible to both men and women.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? The bill passed out of the General Assembly with a bipartisan vote of 56-8. There was even a big press conference with Lara and other parents discussing the importance of this legislation.
Sadly, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the bill citing it as a "private sector" issue, disappointing many Californians in the process. For the sake of parental equality, hopefully other legislators will pick the ball up that Brown dropped.
And for those who believe this shouldn't be legislated, remember 25 years ago when people used to be able to do this on commercial airplanes?
That looks like the craziest thing ever now, and if we relied on the private sector to solve the problem, you better believe people would still be lighting up at 30,000 feet today. Sometimes you have to legislate common sense in order for progress to occur.
3. This doesn't help create a world of good dads.
Good dads are going to change their kids' diapers no matter what obstacles are put in front of them. But why do these obstacles need to exist in the first place? In 2016 and beyond, doesn't it make sense for moms and dads to have places to do this? I've been known to call businesses ahead of time to ask if changing stations exist in men's restrooms before I take my kids there, and it's an unnecessary hassle.
With racism, poverty, global warming, and other important items to deal with, I'm sure there are some people who believe, "Aren't there bigger problems to focus on than changing stations in men's restrooms?"
But when a man's baby has a blowout diaper and there's no place to change said baby, there's no bigger problem in the world to him in that moment, I promise you.
Let's give a thumbs up to the businesses that understand that dads change diapers, too.
Men who value fatherhood make the world a better place for everyone. We should make it easier for them, not harder.