Change starts with one small step. Like the shaky, first steps our son took a year ago, change comes quick and often with a toddler. Sparking social change on the other hand is slow and tests your patience…sorta like a toddler, too. So, when you hear, “Let’s dadvocate for change,” I’m sure your initial response is whatever. But hear me out. I’m sure you can relate to my story.
During our son’s second birthday at an area brewery (I’m in Columbus), I found myself in the pouring rain beneath the open hatch of my car changing his diaper. Neither bathroom at an extremely family friendly business had a changing station. Cold and wet I joined our family and friends, thinking to myself More. Places. Need. Changing. Tables. In. Men’s. Rooms.
I found myself pondering so many things:
- Why don’t more places ensure changing tables in both bathrooms?
- As people cry out for gender neutral bathrooms, where’s the inclusion that everyone can have access to change kiddos in them?
- What if you’re a family with two Dads and there isn’t a changing table in the men’s room?
- How can society indirectly teach my son that only Mommies can change diapers in public?
- How many bare baby arses have been changed on this booth I’m sitting in right now?!?
Speaking from my own personal experience, if an establishment we visit has a changing table, it’s most likely in the women’s restroom. As I’ve shared on our podcast, I enjoy changing my son’s diaper. It’s a fun bonding moment, along with the reality that he listens to me better during the changings. So, it’s even more of an inconvenience when there isn’t one in the men’s room.
Since then, The Dadass Podcast and Cbus Dads (a local Dad blog) have been hard at work seeing how we can ignite conversations and begin making meaningful change. Emails were sent and connections made. Through networks, we were introduced to the moms who founded Pluie, helping to bring self-sanitizing changing tables to Columbus for a safer, more comfortable changing experience and maybe someday soon Cincinnati. We’ve reached out to elected officials for possible small business grant opportunities, partnered with area nonprofits and are seeking other ways to get this conversation to move the needle in a small way with the hope of profound impact one day. We’re evening hosting a campaign kickoff event and diaper drive benefiting an area Diaper Bank on May 14.
As we reflect this month on celebrating the mothers in our lives and look ahead to Father’s Day in June, this is a perfect time to have this conversation. Imagine if more of us shared our public changing disaster stories, asked our favorite establishments to install a changing station, or asked our elected officials to seek creative public-private partnerships. Together, in our communities, we’ll begin breaking down stereotypes of gender roles, while affecting systemic change for family equality. All it takes is changing the conversation and maybe another diaper or two on a restaurant booth.
Matt is a loving husband to his wife Heather and father to his son Tuckerman and dog Shandy (yes…like the beer). He is the founder and host of The Dadass Podcast, the 2021 Podcast of the Year at the Columbus Podcast Awards. His other roles include serving as Executive Director of the Worthington Area Chamber, early morning Spin instructor and served in the United States Coast Guard.