On Parking Lots and Compassion:

The other day a fellow dad posted a photo of a sign to Facebook.  It was a simple sign, suggesting that expecting mothers and mothers with small children should be given a priority parking space, just next to the disabled spaces.  I’ve seen these signs around and I use them when driving with my wife and son.  I appreciate having a little more space to work with when getting the Wee Baby T in and out of his car seat and I think he appreciates being closer to the store when it’s raining or cold.

The debate around the sign was two fold: Initially the concern was that the sign was sexist – it should include fathers with small children, and the second concern was whether the sign should exist at all.  I’m so glad to see that Sobey’s acknowledged the unnecessarily gendered sign and will be updating it, but now let’s focus on the other part of the debate.

The post was shared by CTV on their Facebook page, so I understand how non-parents found the photo and voiced their opinions, but my issue is the scathing remarks and blatant dismissal of the concept of giving a parent a break.

“I park in those spots whenever I can, screw parents with young children – that was your choice!”

“Exercise is good for pregnant women.  Walk the extra 30 feet!”

“My grandmother had to walk from the far end of the parking lot, why can’t you?”

At 29 weeks, K needed help tying her shoes, let alone getting in and out of the car…

It was depressing to read just how little empathy some members of our community had towards families and pregnant women; how dismissive they were that sometimes parents just need a break in life, and sometimes finding that close parking spot might just be the high point of my day.  That’s saying something.

Yes, things are different now.  My dad told me when he was growing up he stood for the entire bus trip from Liverpool to London because there was a woman who didn’t have a seat.  When K was pregnant with the Wee Baby T she had to ask (sometimes repeatedly) for seats on the subway, bus and streetcar, and occasionally I had to chime in as well before someone would stand up.  Why don’t we think about our own mothers and what they went through, and do everything we can to make the lives of mothers around us better?

If you’re reading this, you are probably a parent yourself (or thinking of becoming a parent), so I’m preaching to the choir.  I just had to get that off my chest.  As K pointed out, some people have less compassion than a parking lot…

Good luck out there.

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